TWO House representatives secretly traveled to the Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday where they gave a dire warning about the ongoing evacuation of Americans and allies there.
Reps Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Peter Meijer, a Republican from Michigan, made the surprise visit and warned that they don’t believe everyone will get out by President Joe Biden's deadline of August 31.
“As veterans we care deeply about the situation on the ground at Hamid Karzai International Airport,” they said in a statement to The Hill.
“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.”
They made the trip secretly and didn’t reveal they had gone until after they left to “minimize the risk and disruption to the people on the ground, and because we were there to gather information, not to grandstand."
The Washington Post reported that Moulton and Meijer left Afghanistan less than 24 hours after arriving.
“We came into this visit wanting, like most veterans, to push the president to extend the August 31st deadline,” the statement continued.
“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.”
Officials at the Pentagon and State Department were not pleased about the trip, according to the Post.
“It’s as moronic as it is selfish,” a senior administration official told the outlet.
“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.”
However, the representatives said they sat in crew-only seats so they didn't reduce the number of available seats for others trying to evacuate.
“It’s one of the most irresponsible things I’ve heard a lawmaker do,” a diplomat familiar with the situation told the Post of the trip.
“It absolutely deserves admonishment.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also had some criticisms and sent out a "Dear Colleague" letter on Tuesday afternoon seemingly in response to the secret trip.
“Given the urgency of this situation, the desire of some Members to travel to Afghanistan and the surrounding areas is understandable and reflective of the high priority that we place on the lives of those on the ground," Speaker Pelosi wrote.
“However, I write 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."
The White House said Monday the US has evacuated or helped to evacuate about 48,000 people from Afghanistan since August 14, CNBC reported.
President Biden was expected to give an update on Afghanistan around noon on Tuesday but didn't begin speaking until shortly after 5 pm EST.
When he did speak, he initially talked about his "Build Back Better" plan and was criticized on social media.
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