News and Commentary

Two Congressmen Take Secret Trip To Afghanistan To See Situation Firsthand

   DailyWire.com
John Moore/Getty Images

Two U.S. lawmakers — one Republican and one Democrat, both military veterans — took a secret trip to Afghanistan on Tuesday to see exactly what’s happening there as Americans troops prepare to pull out after a 20-year war.

Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), both of whom served in Iraq, issued a joint statement regarding their trip.

“As Members of Congress, we have a duty to provide oversight on the executive branch. There is no place in the world right now where oversight matters more. 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. We left on a plane with empty seats, seated in crew-only seats to ensure that nobody who needed a seat would lose one because of our presence,” the lawmakers said.

The pair said the situation is worse than what’s being portrayed in the media.

“Washington should be ashamed of the position we put our service members in, but they represent the best in America. These men and women have been run ragged and are still running strong. Their empathy and dedication to duty are truly inspiring. The acts of heroism and selflessness we witnessed at HKIA [Hamid Karzai International Airport] make America proud,” the legislators said.

They said that the U.S. will not be able to evacuate everyone either by August 31, the deadline set by the Taliban and accepted by President Joe Biden, or even by September 11.

“We came into this visit wanting, like most veterans, to push the president to extend the August 31st deadline. After talking with commanders on the ground and seeing the situation here, it is obvious that because we started the evacuation so late, that no matter what we do, we won’t get everyone out on time, even by September 11. Sadly and frustratingly, getting our people out depends on maintaining the current, bizarre relationship with the Taliban.”

The pair missed a House session on Tuesday when lawmakers took votes on a $3.5 trillion budget resolution and a voting rights bill. But Moulton and Meijer were able to use a pandemic-era rule to have colleagues cast their votes by proxy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), meanwhile, discouraged lawmakers from traveling to Afghanistan in a letter to colleagues on Tuesday that did not mention the pair by name.

“Member travel to Afghanistan and the surrounding countries would unnecessarily divert needed resources from the priority mission of safely and expeditiously evacuating America and Afghans at risk from Afghanistan,” she said.

According to The Washington Post, unnamed sources were displeased.

“It’s as moronic as it is selfish,” a senior administration official told the paper. “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.”

An unnamed diplomat said: “It’s one of the most irresponsible things I’ve heard a lawmaker do.”

Here’s the full statement from Moulton and Meijer:

As veterans we care deeply about the situation on the ground at Hamid Karzai International Airport. America has a moral obligation to our citizens and loyal allies, and we must make sure that obligation is being kept. Like many veterans, we have spent the last few weeks working without sleep to try to get as many people as we could through the gates and to safety.

As Members of Congress, we have a duty to provide oversight on the executive branch. There is no place in the world right now where oversight matters more. 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. We left on a plane with empty seats, seated in crew-only seats to ensure that nobody who needed a seat would lose one because of our presence.

Washington should be ashamed of the position we put our service members in, but they represent the best in America. These men and women have been run ragged and are still running strong. Their empathy and dedication to duty are truly inspiring. The acts of heroism and selflessness we witnessed at HKIA make America proud.

We came into this visit wanting, like most veterans, to push the president to extend the August 31st deadline. After talking with commanders on the ground and seeing the situation here, it is obvious that because we started the evacuation so late, that no matter what we do, we won’t get everyone out on time, even by September 11. Sadly and frustratingly, getting our people out depends on maintaining the current, bizarre relationship with the Taliban.

In the coming days, we will have more to share with our colleagues and the American people about what we learned, but after meeting with Marines, soldiers, and dedicated State Department officials on the ground—we want the world to know first and foremost that we have never been prouder to be Americans.

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