A bipartisan duo of House lawmakers said that they secretly visited Kabul, Afghanistan amid the chaos currently unfolding as the U.S. scrambles to evacuate citizens and others from that country.
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), who are both veterans, 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 noted.
While they condemned the situation in which American military members have been placed, they commended service members for their work.
"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 successfully evacuate everyone either by Aug. 31 or by Sept. 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."
President Biden and his administration have been criticized for bungling efforts to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan. The Taliban, which has taken over the country, seized the capital city of Kabul last week. The Taliban has obtained military equipment that the U.S. had given to Afghanistan.