An unannounced trip made by two congressmen to Kabul this week amid an intense evacuation effort has come under heavy criticism from Pentagon and other representatives of the House, who have called the act “reprehensible.”
Republican Peter Meijer and Democratic Seth Moulton secretly slipped into war-torn Afghanistan on Tuesday this week, stating that they went to the ground zero to observe the evacuation efforts.
Lashing at the two war veterans for making the visit during a critical moment, former CIA official Paul Mudd told CNN that mere criticism of their actions is “too polite.”
“Two members of congress without the support of their party want to bypass Disneyland and take an Instagram trip to Afghanistan because they want some eye candy for a bunch of constituents,” the ex CIA official said in an interview to the CNN.
He added that President Joe Biden had flagged the situation as too dangerous for the US military to stay on in the south Asian country.
However, congressman Meijer dubbed the criticism as “laughable” and accused the Biden-led administration of hiding facts of the situation unfolding in Afghanistan from Americans.
Mr Meijer said: “The opprobrium from the Defence Department, from the White House, from the State Department is, frankly, laughable.”
“Right now they have done everything they can to obstruct the situation, to deny this reality, and, frankly, to hide facts from the American people,” he told Fox News.
The duo also released a statement saying that as congressmen, the two have a duty to provide oversight on the executive branch.
Explaining their secret visit, they said in a statement: “We conducted this visit in secret, speaking about it only after our departure, to minimise the risk and disruption to the people on the ground, and because we were there to gather information, not to grandstand.”
The Pentagon has also delivered a staunch criticism to the secret visit that flouted several important bureaucratic checks and was conducted without any coordination with diplomats and military commanders engaged in the evacuation.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby confirmed that even they were not kept in the loop about this visit. “We were not aware of this visit, and we are not encouraging VIP visits to a very tense, dangerous and dynamic situation inside that airport and Kabul in general,” Mr Kirby said.
“The secretary, I think, would have appreciated the opportunity to have had a conversation before the visit took place,” he said, adding that the two congressmen took time away from the tasks planned for the day.
Disapproving the secret visit further, the Pentagon official said: “To say there wasn't a need to alter the day's flow, including the need to have protection for these members of Congress, that wouldn't be a genuine thing for me to assert.”
First information to the US military about the congressmen’s visit was when their aircraft was inbound at Kabul, officials told Fox News.
The secret visit also came under the scanner for using resources that could have been otherwise used for two more refugees instead.
“And by the way, ask them for the two seats they took out. For all their concerns about refugees, what happens to the two refugees who didn’t get those seats?” former CIA official Paul Mudd asked.
However, the legislators clarified in their statement that they left Kabul on a flight with empty seats.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies