Two U.S. House lawmakers said they were in Kabul to conduct oversight of the evacuation effort at the city’s international airport.
Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) visited the airport on Aug. 24, according to Moulton.
“Witnessing our young Marines and soldiers at the gates, navigating a confluence of humanity as raw and visceral as the world has ever seen, was indescribable,” Moulton wrote on Twitter.
“The world has truly never seen anything like what America is doing in Kabul this week—deeply tragic and highly heroic. Fear and desperation at their worst; hope and humanity at their finest.”
The two lawmakers are both military veterans with backgrounds in the region. Moulton, a Marine who has been an outspoken critic of the Iraq War, served multiple tours in Iraq. Meijer was deployed as part of the Army Reserves and later worked in Afghanistan at a nongovernmental organization providing aid. Both serve on the House Armed Services Committee.
The United States has been conducting a mass-scale evacuation effort from the airport in Kabul after the Taliban terrorist group captured Afghanistan in a stunning blitz earlier this month.
The Biden administration is facing bipartisan criticism over the lack of preparation for the evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghans who worked with the ousted government and allied forces.
“We did this visit in secret to reduce risks and impact on the mission and we insisted on leaving in a plane that was not full, in a seat designated for crew so that we didn’t take a seat from someone else,” Moulton wrote.
“Washington should be ashamed of the position we put our service members in, but they represent the best in America.
“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 Joe Biden said on Aug. 24 that the United States is on pace to complete the evacuation effort by Aug. 31 if the Taliban continues to cooperate. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have doubts that the administration can meet the end-of-month deadline. Estimates place the number of Americans in Afghanistan at 10,000 to 15,000 before the evacuation began.
“The sooner we can finish, the better,” Biden said in a press conference. “Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops, but the completion by Aug. 31 depends upon the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allow access to the airport for those who are transporting out, and no disruptions to our operation.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.