Rep. Seth Moulton (MA), an Iraq War veteran and progressive Democrat, has refused to apologize to critics — including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) — for his decision to take an unauthorized trip to Kabul to witness the Biden administration’s Afghanistan withdrawal operations firsthand — and he continued to blast the Biden administration in a tell-all interview with New York Magazine.
“Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton says the conditions inside the Kabul airport are harrowing and ‘crazy,’ and says he saw U.S. military members break down over their efforts during his secret trip that drew the ire of party leaders,” the Daily Mail reported Friday, citing the NY Mag interview. “Moulton, who did four tours in Iraq with support from the local population and who has been an advocate for doing more for Afghans seeking special visas, says it gave him a close-up look at the desperation and squalor on the ground.”
“‘The thing that everybody needs to understand, even if you completely agree with the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw, the way they have handled this has been a total f****** disaster,” Moulton said. He added that extent of the fallout from the botched operation will be “measured in bodies, because a lot of people are dying because they can’t get out.”
“As crazy as this sounds, we need a positive relationship with the Taliban to have any hope of getting out the thousands of people we’ll leave behind down the road,” Moulton added, explaining that his goal is now to help extract Afghan allies who will be left behind when the U.S. military pulls out on August 31st.
Moulton said that he and another veteran in Congress, Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), knew they would be criticized for the trip, and tried “to be as efficient as possible at finding the truth and saving a few lives.” The pair flew commercial to the United Arab Emirates, where they used connections to get on board a C-17 bound for Kabul, taking seats that would have been empty otherwise. He added that the trip was designed to create minimal interference in the mission and that he and Meijer felt forced to use military contacts when repeated requests to take an official trip were denied.
“Peter and I had been talking for a while about going to Kabul because all our official requests had been denied,” Moulton said, adding that he made requests “over months, not just recently”– long before the Taliban took Kabul, precipitating a swift American withdrawal.
Moulton said he was crushed by what he witnessed on the ground. Evacuees were housed in hangars, in 120-degree heat, trying to seek shade wherever they could.
They were “in hangars, some of them are just on the tarmac, and it’s crazy,” he said. “We understood as one only can from being on the ground in Kabul that we were never going to finish this in time, even if we extended to September 11th.”
“I’ve never seen more people cry, just salty Marines, seasoned State Department veterans just break down in tears, talking about their work, and hugging me, and saying thank you for coming,” Moulton added.
The White House said Thursday that despite a devastating terror attack on Thursday that left at least 200 dead, including 13 U.S. service members, they will be sticking to the August 31st withdrawal deadline.