An internal State Department cable from July, confirmed received by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, warned of a swift Taliban takeover, punching a hole in President Joe Biden’s claim he was not warned before last weekend’s Taliban insurrection, The Wall Street Journal reported.
In his lone public remarks on the Taliban takeover, Biden claimed the surrender of the U.S.-trained Afghanistan military unexpected, but a source familiar with the July 13 cable told the Journal the Taliban’s advance was imminent and the Afghanistan military would not stop it.
The confidential cable was sent over the State Department dissent channel and also offered recommendations on expediting evacuations and pleaded with the administration to speak out against the Taliban’s “atrocities being committed,” sources told the Journal.
The cable was signed by 23 U.S. Embassy staffers and was delivered expeditiously, the sources added.
Blinken and Director of Policy Planning Salman Ahmad received the cable and Blinken reviewed it and welcomed the dissent, a source told the Journal.
“He’s made clear that he welcomes and encourages use of the dissent channel, and is committed to its revitalization,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told the Journal, declining to talk specifics of this reported cable. “We value constructive internal dissent.”
Biden said in July a Taliban takeover was “highly unlikely” and told ABC News in an exclusive interview Wednesday, “the idea that somehow there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens.”
This reported cable refutes that claim and that of White House Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, the Journal reported.
“There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days,” Milley said at the Pentagon on Wednesday.
On the specifics in the classified “confidential” cable, the Journal reported:
- Identify Special Immigrant Visa candidates in Afghanistan.
- Begin evacuation flights no later than Aug. 1.
The Journal also noted one day after the cable, the White House announced Operation Allies Refuge, but the evacuations did not ramp up until last week and have been complicated since the Taliban takeover in Kabul this weekend, according to the report.
The dissent channel of the State Department that allows foreign service officers to raise concerns to be circulated among senior officials and signatories are protected against retaliation and are to remain confidential, the Journal reported, like whistleblower protections.