The Biden administration moved in June to dismantle a system designed to protect American citizens trapped abroad — just months before the Taliban took over Afghanistan, stranding thousands of Americans in the Central Asian country.
Fox News has obtained the June 11 memo sent around the State Department which gave the green light on the “discontinuation of the establishment, and the termination of, the Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau (CCR).”
The sensitive but unclassified memo was signed by Deputy Secretary of State Brian McKeon, just a couple of months before the Biden administration’s botched troop withdrawal that saw Afghanistan fall under Taliban control.
CCR was formed under Trump-era Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and was tasked with providing “aviation, logistics, and medical support capabilities for the Department’s operational bureaus, thereby enhancing the secretary’s ability to protect American citizens overseas in connection with overseas evacuations in the aftermath of a natural or man-made disaster.”
The bureau could have played a role in the response to the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, where thousands of American citizens and allies are trapped behind terrorist lines.
A State Department spokesperson told Fox News in a Wednesday email that it “is important to note that not only would the proposed Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau not have introduced any new capabilities to the Department, it was never formally established.”
“Some administrative steps were taken before its establishment was paused, but the day-to-day operations of the team have not changed,” the spokesperson said.
“Every requirement the Department delivered on last year, and since the proposed establishment of the bureau, can be delivered on today in the same manner if appropriate to do so,” they continued.
A State Department official stressed to Fox News that none of the capabilities provided by the bureau have gone away. That official characterized the bureau as being in its early stages at the time, saying Secretary of State Antony Blinken had requested a review on it soon after he joined the department earlier this year.
The president told ABC News on Wednesday he did not believe the withdrawal could’ve happened without “chaos ensuing.”
“When you had the government of Afghanistan, the leader of that government, getting in a plane and taking off and going to another country, when you saw the significant collapse of the Afghan troops we had trained, up to 300,000 of them just leaving their equipment and taking off – that’s what happened,” he said.
Fox News’ Nick Kalman contributed to this report.