Aug 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

House Intel committee to hold classified Afghanistan briefing in September

 Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee

Rep. Adam Schiff (D- Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House Intelligence Committee is planning to hold a second, classified briefing on Afghanistan when members return to Washington, D.C., in September, a committee official tells Axios.

Why it matters: The planning comes as several members of Congress demand more information from the Biden administration regarding the unfolding crisis abroad as the U.S. approaches its Aug. 31 deadline to evacuate Americans from Afghanistan. It also comes just hours after multiple U.S. service members and civilians were killed in Kabul Thursday morning.

Details: The House is not expected to return from recess until Sept. 20, meaning it will likely be weeks before the committee holds its briefing.

  • While many committee members would like to have a briefing sooner given the latest developments in Afghanistan, the committee official told Axios it's difficult to hold the update over the phone given the highly sensitive classified information.
  • The official added, however, that if Congress comes back into session earlier, the Intelligence Committee will likely move up the in-person briefing.

The big picture: The committee held a classified briefing on Monday — the first in-person meeting with lawmakers on Afghanistan.

  • Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters after the briefing that he thinks "it's very unlikely" the Biden administration will be able to successfully complete its evacuation from Afghanistan by Aug. 31.
  • Schiff also told reporters on Monday that the Kabul airport could be a "very attractive target" for terrorists as the U.S. continues to evacuate thousands of people. "This has been a concern of mine for some days now — that this would make a very attractive target for ISIS-K or for elements of Al Qaeda," Schiff said.
  • During a full House briefing Tuesday, several congressmen, including multiple Democratic lawmakers, urged Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to reconsider the withdrawal deadline.
  • Many lawmakers also expressed frustration after the briefing, with several sources familiar with the meeting telling Axios that President Biden's national security deputies declined to provide estimates on the number of Americans remaining in Afghanistan.
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