Two members of Congress caused a stir when they made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan Tuesday to witness the evacuation operation at Kabul’s international airport firsthand.
Reps. Seth Moulton and Peter Meijer infuriated White House, Pentagon, and State Department officials who accused them of using vital resources in the midst of the chaotic American withdrawal.
Moulton (D-Mass.) and Meijer (R-Mich.) warned in a joint statement that US forces “won’t get everyone out on time,” even if the withdrawal deadline is pushed to its original Sept. 11 date.
“As Members of Congress, we have a duty to provide oversight on the executive branch,’” the two said. “We conducted this visit in secret, speaking about it only after our departure, to minimize the risk and disruption to the people on the ground, and because we were there to gather information, not to grandstand.”
The two lawmakers, both military veterans and members of the House Armed Services Committee, remained at Hamid Karzai International Airport for several hours after arriving on a military flight from the United Arab Emirates.
The journey angered administration officials, the AP reported, because Moulton and Meijer did not give a heads-up to diplomats or military commanders directing ongoing efforts to get Americans and their Afghan allies out of the Taliban-controlled country.
The AP reported that the military found out about the trip as the lawmakers’ plane was approaching Kabul early Tuesday morning US time.
“It’s as moronic as it is selfish,” one official told The Washington Post. “They’re taking seats away from Americans and at-risk Afghans — while putting our diplomats and service members at greater risk — so they can have a moment in front of the cameras.”
Moulton responded by tweeting that he and Meijer “insisted on leaving in a plane that was not full, in a seat designated for crew so that we didn’t take a seat from someone else.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote to members Tuesday to “reiterate that the Departments of Defense and State have requested that Members not travel to Afghanistan and the region during this time of danger. Ensuring the safe and timely evacuation of individuals at risk requires the full focus and attention of the US military and diplomatic teams on the ground in Afghanistan.”
This is an excerpt from the New York Post.
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