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State Department internal watchdog launches investigation into Afghanistan troop withdrawal

Diana Shaw, the State Department’s acting inspector general, notified lawmakers in a letter Monday.
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The State Department's inspector general informed Congress on Monday that her office is opening a series of investigations into the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to a letter obtained by NBC News.

Diana Shaw, the State Department's acting inspector general, notified the heads of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as the House and Senate intelligence committees, that her office will open "several oversight projects" related to ending diplomatic operations in Afghanistan.

Politico was first to report that the State Department was examining the winding down of operations.

The probes will focus on the State Department's Special Immigrant Visa program, Afghans processed for refugee admission into the U.S., resettlement of Afghan refugees and visa recipients, and the emergency evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul "to include evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghan nationals."

"Given the elevated interest in this work by Congress and the unique circumstances requiring coordination across the Inspector General community, I wanted to notify our committees of jurisdiction of this important work," Shaw said in the letter.

After Afghan forces quickly surrendered to the Taliban in August, crowds flocked to the Kabul airport to leave the country. Chaotic images and videos surfaced of desperate Afghans clinging to military planes as the administration scrambled to evacuate U.S. citizens, Afghan allies and U.S. visa holders.

Thirteen U.S. service members and more than 100 Afghans were killed later and scores more were wounded in a suicide attack outside the airport during the evacuation.

President Joe Biden has forcefully defended his decision to pull troops from Afghanistan despite criticism from both sides questioning how the administration handled closing the final chapter of the country's longest war.

"I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit," Biden said in a White House speech in late August, adding that the chaos was inevitable.

The administration has signaled that it intends to resettle 65,000 Afghans in the U.S. this year and 95,000 by next year.