Two US congressmen fly into Kabul; trip reportedly unauthorized

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Thursday, August 26, 2021

Two US congressmen, Seth Moulton and Peter Meijer, made an unannounced visit to an airport Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday, with a stated mission of gathering information on the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.

US representatives Seth Moulton (left) and Peter Meijer (right).
Image: United States Congress.

The Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the two men "certainly took time away from what we had planned to do that day", with three officials familiar with the flight telling the Associated Press "defense department and White House officials were furious" about the two's sudden appearance, stating it was done without proper coordination with diplomats or commanders of the evacuation.

Democratic congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Republican Peter Meijer of Michigan said in a statement they "conducted the visit in secret," speaking about it only after their departure as to not disrupt the people on the ground, and because they were there to "gather information, not groundstand."

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi released a statement on Tuesday, stating she wanted 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" and "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."

The US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday the deadline of August 31 his administration had set would remain. The two congressmen involved have advocated for this deadline to be extended, saying "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."

On April 14, Joe Biden had announced plans to withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11, officially ending the US' involvement in the 20-year-long war in Afghanistan.