The inspector general of the State Department is planning to rattle some cages in the Biden Administration. Diana Shaw, the State Department’s acting inspector general, has reportedly begun “a series of investigations” into the White House administration’s handling of the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a memo last week that was obtained by the news outlet Politico. It indicated that the investigations will look at the following: the State Department’s Special Immigrant Visa Program; Afghans who were processed for refugee admission into the United States; resettlement of those refugees and visa recipients; and the emergency evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul which included evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghan nationals.
Shaw let it be known to several congressional committees on Monday that her office is conducting work on these investigations. She said her office was launching “several oversight projects” that were related to the end of the U.S. military and diplomatic missions in Afghanistan.
The acting inspector general noted that because of the elevated interest in the work being done by Congress and the “unique circumstances” requiring coordination across the Inspector General community, she needed to notify the committees of jurisdiction of her offices’ significant work. This information was put in a letter which was sent to leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as the intelligence committees in both chambers.
A spokesperson for the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Ryan Holden, downplayed the report of these investigations. He said that “reviews” and not “investigations” were taking place. But Politico specifically called the actions taking place in the OIG “investigations.”
Ryan Holden said, “State OIG notified its committees of jurisdiction today of planned projects in the areas you mention. 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.”
But the report indicated that inspector generals from several departments were probably going to begin investigations into the haphazard events that erupted under President Joe Biden’s command.
The report stated clearly, “The Pentagon’s IG recently announced three reviews related to the evacuation: an evaluation of the botched drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians instead of the Islamic State target; a review of DoD’s screening process for displaced Afghans; and an audit of DoD support for the relocation of Afghan nationals.”
Lawmakers in Washington have taken a particular interest in the State Department’s Special Immigrant Visa program, which was launched in 2009. This program aimed to provide a pathway to immigrate to the U.S. for Afghan interpreters, their families, and others who worked for the U.S. government throughout the 20-year war. The program has been hampered by bureaucratic challenges and delays since it first began. Before the August evacuation, there were approximately 18,000 applications stuck in the pipeline.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction also may investigate the events leading up to and following the pullout from Afghanistan. Many critics argue that the chaos was partly the result of a failure to properly coordinate among multiple departments and agencies in the weeks and months after President Joe Biden ordered a full withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country.
President Biden has been dealing with significant criticism over the botched withdrawal, and there have even been accusations that he lied to the American People. Polls focused on the president have plummeted as low as the mid-30s in the weeks since the pullout from Afghanistan.