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State Department offers Republican lawmaker a chance to view Afghanistan dissent cable

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department offered Wednesday to allow the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to view a classified cable from U.S. diplomats in Kabul sent shortly before the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas had threatened earlier this week to make an unprecedented push to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress if he did not turn over the so-called dissent cable.

The Republican lawmaker told CNN's “The Situation Room” late Wednesday that the offer represented “significant progress” towards resolving the conflict over the cables, but added he wanted other members of the committee to also see the messages.

State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters earlier Wednesday that McCaul, as well as Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, the top Democrat on the committee, would be invited to the department to view the cable “with appropriate personal information redacted.”

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“Chairman McCaul himself has said that this is what he is interested in,” Patel said. "And so it is our sincere hope that our offer here will be sufficient to satisfy their request for information.”

McCaul was planning to have the committee vote next week on a resolution to hold Blinken in contempt of Congress. It would have then proceeded to a full vote in the House, where Republicans hold a slim majority.

The State Department had previously briefed McCaul on the substance of the cables, but he said he was not satisfied.

The vast majority of the 123 cables sent since 1971, when the dissent channel was created during the Vietnam War, have remained classified, according to the National Security Archives at George Washington University. The State Department has long protected the cables from being released publicly.

Meeks defended the State Department's actions, saying it was trying to be “fully transparent” while protecting the identities of the staff who wrote the cable. He also noted that House Republicans have used subpoenas to launch a slew of investigations into the Biden administration.

“I’m concerned about the overall political game that’s being played,” he said.