Democratic delegate Seth Moulton says conditions at the Kabul airport are harrowing and “crazy,” and says he saw US military members abandon their efforts during his secret trip that sparked the ire of party leaders.
Moulton talks about what he saw on the ground during a stealthy trip to watch the evacuation — which the Pentagon and White House immediately labeled a careless tax on precious resources.
Moulton, who has taken four tours of Iraq with support from locals and who has been an advocate for doing more for Afghans seeking special visas, says it gave him a close-up look at the desperation and misery on the ground .
“I’ve never seen so many people cry, just salty marines, seasoned State Department veterans burst into tears, talking about their work, hugging me and saying thank you for coming,” the Iraq War Vet said. . New York Magazine in an account of what he saw and how he got there.
His mini ‘codel’, along with GOP representative Peter Meijer, gave Moulton a first look at the circumstances after months of trying to draw attention to the plight of Afghans assisting US troops.
“They’re in hangars, some are just on the tarmac, and it’s crazy,” said Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) on the conditions of evacuees in Kabul
He said evacuees were cramped “in 120 degrees of heat, literally sheltering under airplane wings, which is not safe, by the way.”
“They’re in hangars, some are just on the tarmac, and it’s crazy,” he told the publication.
“From the ground in Kabul, we understood that we would never finish this in time, even if we extended it to September 11,” he said of what he saw – during a trip preceding Thursday’s deadly bombing the US was under review. by ISIS-K.
He had harsh words for the Biden administration’s handling of the situation.
“Everyone needs to understand that even if you fully agree with the Biden government’s decision to pull out, the way they’ve handled this has been a total disaster,” he said. He said it will be “measured in bodies because a lot of people die because they can’t get out.”
“As crazy as this may sound, we need a positive relationship with the Taliban to have any hope of getting rid of the thousands of people we will leave behind along the way,” he said.
He defended that his journey had “the lightest footprint of any codel in history” — without giving precise details about exactly how he managed it.
“Our goal was to find the truth as efficiently as possible and save a few lives,” he said of him and Meijer, who also served in Iraq.
Rep. Seth Moulton, then a Navy captain, stands next to American and Iraqi soldiers in Iraq. Lieutenant Colonel Ehab Hashem Moshen stands in the middle of the second row. Moulton has talked about the added value of local translators and others
Moulton and his former Iraqi translator Mohammed Harba
Moulton tweeted an ‘indescribable’ image of what he saw on his trip, which was criticized by military buyer and house speaker Nancy Pelosi
Hundreds of people, some with documents, gather at an evacuation checkpoint on the outskirts of Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, August 27, 2021
People are busy ahead of Thursday’s attack, along a canal near Abbey Gate at Kabul Airport, Afghanistan Aug. 26, 2021 in this still grab obtained by REUTERS from a video
The two lawmakers flew commercially to the United Arab Emirates before continuing on military flights to Kabul. He says they used empty space in a crew cabin aboard the C-17 plane.
“Look, man, if you’ve been in the Middle East for as long as I have, it’s not that hard to find a friend who can get you on a flight,” was all he allowed.
Moulton has long pushed for government efforts to focus on the evacuation of Afghans who have assisted US troops. He remembers the help he received from translators and others while serving in Iraq.
He claims his requests to form an official congress “CODEL” were turned down, although the House Armed Services Committee says he never made a formal request.
“Peter and I had been talking about going to Kabul for a while because all our official requests had been turned down…which I’d been doing a lot over the past few months, not just recently,” he told New York.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and minority group leader Kevin McCarthy both found the trip distracting from the evacuation, with some staffers calling it an ego trip.
“Every member I’ve heard could go, I explain to them that I don’t think they should,” McCarthy said at a briefing. “I think it carries a greater risk. You got enough Americans there to be held hostage. They would make a point of being a member of Congress.”
Pelosi said in her own comments on the case: “This is dead serious. We don’t want members to go.’
‘You need the approval of your committee chair for that. And we have sent word to the committee chairmen that there will be no planes or this or that for people going to the region,” she continued.
According to his website, Moulton joined the Marines months before the September 11 attacks. “As leader of an infantry platoon, he was one of the first Americans to reach Baghdad in 2003,” it says. “He served in Iraq four times, a war he didn’t agree with and spoke out against — but he was proud to go, so no one had to go in his place.”
Previously, Moulton, who was putting together a ill-fated 2020 presidential campaign, defended his actions in an interview with the the Boston Globe.
“If I save the lives of our allies, I don’t care about anonymous quotes from Washington,” Moulton told the newspaper on Wednesday in a telephone interview from Doha, Qatar.
“I’ve gotten several, not just families, but also groups through the gates,” Moulton said of his time in Kabul. “It’s amazing that people think this is about politics when it comes to innocent lives and saving people who gave us everything from torture and death.”
“Any person we can get through the gates who is one of our allies, that’s the difference between freedom and death,” he added.
He repeated, “The scolding means nothing if we save a few lives.”