State Department watchdog launches reviews of Afghanistan withdrawal

Antony Blinken speaks during his confirmation hearing before the Senate foreign relations committee at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 19. The senate confirmed him 78-22. Pool Photo by Graeme Jennings/UPI

Oct. 19 (UPI) — The State Department’s inspector general has opened multiple reviews of the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to reports Monday.

Diana Shaw, the State Department’s acting inspector general, notified top lawmakers that her office is conducting “oversight projects related to the suspension of operations at the U.S. Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan,” according to letters obtained by Politico and CNN.

According to the letter, the reviews will focus on the State Department’s Special Immigrant Visa program, Afghans processed for refugee admission into the United States, resettlement of refugees and visa recipients and the emergency evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

“Given the elevated interest in this work by Congress and the unique circumstances requiring coordination across the Inspector General community, I wanted to notify our committees of jurisdiction of this important work,” Shaw wrote in the letter addressed to leaders of the Senate foreign relations committee, House foreign affairs committee and the intelligence committees of both chambers.

Ryan Holden, a spokesman for the office of the inspector general, confirmed it had notified lawmakers of its plans but said the probe did not meet the watchdog’s definition of an “investigation.”

“State OIG notified its committees of jurisdiction today of planned projects in the areas you mention,” Holden told Politico. “This work will be conducted in coordination with other members of the IG community. However, it is inaccurate to say that these projects are investigations. We indicated to Congress that these projects will be reviews.”

The reviews will add to existing scrutiny of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, including a review into a drone strike on Aug. 29 that killed 10 civilians, including seven children in Kabul, which was announced by the Air Force inspector general last month.

Criticism of the withdrawal has largely centered around the special immigrant visa program, as the State Department said there were 17,000 applicants stuck in the program’s pipeline before the August evacuation.


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