A State Department review of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan found far more in it than the withdrawal document that the White House released Thursday afternoon, according to a source familiar with the report.
While the White House document to President Joe Biden was “severely constrained” by the conditions created by former President Donald Trump, the State Department report has more than two dozen recommendations — including some specifically related to how the department could better prepare. during the Biden administration, the source said.
“Biden inherited a disastrous administration without a clear plan for how to get there, but then they undertook their review. And in April, Biden decided to go ahead with it, and postponed his retirement timeline. So the blueprints are not exactly given at this point. And so some have said that their hands are completely tied,” the source said, explaining his view of the need for the Biden administration to take some ownership of the launch.
A White House document notes that in consideration of the withdrawal, the State Department and the Pentagon are now “prioritizing evacuations” in the face of a worsening security situation. But the document also defends the period in which the evacuation from Afghanistan took place, citing conversations and deliberations at that time.
The White House document also says the United States is now erring “on the side of aggressive communication about threats” when it comes to preparing the security environment.
But it is unclear why the White House document assessing the challenges and decisions surrounding the withdrawal did not cite the broadest set of recommendations of the State Department report, which was the result of an intensive 90-day review. A spokesman for the National Security Council, or NSC, said the document was a “separate product” that was “informed” by various assessments.
The State Department sent a much more detailed after-action report on Capitol Hill on Thursday, but otherwise the department has not released the report in more than a year. The report itself was launched by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in December 2021. Employees who worked in the evacuation of the darkness demanded to detail what the department learned from the report after the fact.
An NSC spokesman said the department’s reviews “were not undertaken for public release but to improve internal processes”.
On Thursday, on Thursday, the department was scheduled to hold a town hall for employees to discuss the relationship with Blinken and Undersecretary for Management John Bass, who was a key official in the withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to three officials who attended the event.
Blinken described the employee’s relationship without sharing. He said he explained the processes, systems and mindsets that could be done better, including the necessary preparation for worst-case scenarios, he said.
Blinken said that contingency preparations are hampered by concerns that they would be too visible and that concerns raised by Afghan officials told CNN that they would be large. The top US diplomat also revealed competing and dissonant views in Washington on how to prioritize categories of evacuees, and admitted that the department’s data technology and communications infrastructure was inadequate.
Officials said the second Blinken report makes 34 recommendations. They include the ability to strengthen the crisis response department, establishing one official for future complex crises, increasing crisis communications to call centers, building, as they say, a red team to challenge assumptions and running more training boards, which are called workers.
But for many workers, Prytaneum only leads to more frustrations about the lack of full transparency. A source familiar with the full report explained that the findings were deliberately not disclosed so that they could have been shared if the patient had wanted to do so, but that was not the case.
At least one employee was upset in the courtroom, criticizing how quickly it was arranged and the decision not to share the full report. Blinken cited concerns about political relations and looking back for hired runners.
The State Department did not respond to a request for comment about the headquarters or any plans to share more broadly parts of the department’s report.
This story has been updated with additional information.