by Susan Crabtree at realclearwire.com
Former Ambassador Thomas Boyatt, a highly decorated foreign service officer who served in multiple senior U.S. foreign service roles in the 1970s and 80s, has a bone to pick with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Since the chaotic and deadly U.S. exit from Afghanistan, Blinken has refused to turn over to Congress a key internal State Department dissent document signed by 23 U.S. diplomats at the embassy in Kabul. The classified cable was sent to Blinken and top leadership at State in July 2021, one month before the evacuation descended into chaos. The classified memo reportedly urged the administration to accelerate evacuation plans because the Afghan government was on the brink of collapse as the Taliban swept the country. Its existence was leaked to the Wall Street Journal after the Taliban took control of the country and the U.S. withdrawal quickly went sideways.
What’s worse, in Boyatt’s view, is that the State Department is now using a misleading precedent surrounding a dissent cable he sent nearly 50 years ago as its rationale for withholding the Afghanistan dissent document from Congress.
When Boyatt learned about Blinken’s refusal and his reasons – that he was trying to protect future dissent cables from a chilling effect – “It was like tearing off the scab of an old wound of mine,” Boyatt, now 90, told RealClearPolitics Tuesday.
Blinken had cited the 1975 precedent of the department’s refusal to provide Congress the dissent cable written by Boyatt before Turkey invaded Cyprus just a year before. Boyatt recently provided a statement to Rep. Mike McCaul, slamming Blinken’s stated concerns about protecting the integrity of the dissent cable system as “bullshit.”
McCaul, a Texas Republican who now chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been requesting the cable since first learning about it in late August of 2021 while events were unraveling in Kabul. Last week, a deadline passed for McCaul’s subpoena for the cable, with Blinken still resisting.
While serving as the State Department’s director for Cyprus affairs, Boyatt used the official dissent channel to warn then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration that the Greek army was planning to overthrow the Cypriot president and install a puppet Cypriot government. If this were to occur, his cable warned, Turkey’s armed forces would invade Cyprus and establish a Turk-Cypriot mini-state on Cyprus, leading to the displacement of Cyprus’s ethnic communities and fueling Turkey’s expansionist objectives. Boyatt says he decided to utilize the dissent cable process to alert the Nixon administration about the impending invasion after exhausting normal State Department channels.
Instead of attempting to stop the invasion, however, Kissinger removed Boyatt from his position in Cyprus five days after he sent the cable. Boyatt went on to serve as counselor in the U.S. embassy in Chile while events in Cyprus unfolded just as he had warned.
Boyatt notes that his friend, Rodger Davies, who was serving as ambassador to Cyprus at the time, was shot dead during a Greek Cypriot protest outside the U.S. embassy. It was just a week after Turkey’s invasion, and roughly 300 people were protesting against the United States’ failure to prevent the Turkish invasion.