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Read: In statement, Rep. Seth Moulton explains secret trip to Kabul

"America has a moral obligation to our citizens and loyal allies, and we must make sure that obligation is being kept."

Congressman Seth Moulton. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
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Rep. Seth Moulton and Rep. Peter Meijer, a Michigan Republican, took an unannounced flight to the Kabul airport on Tuesday — a trip that left federal agencies, and the White House, fuming.

Their arrival in Afghanistan came as the United States evacuates thousands of Americans and Afghans fleeing the Taliban-controlled country by President Joe Biden’s deadline of Aug. 31.

The two lawmakers, both veterans, said their trip was necessary for them to provide proper oversight of the Biden Administration, and they only spoke of it after their departure to minimize disruption and risk to people on the ground.

“As Members of Congress, we have a duty to provide oversight on the executive branch,” the statement says. “There is no place in the world right now where oversight matters more.”

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Read the full statement:

As veterans we care deeply about the situation on the ground at Hamid Karzai International Airport. America has a moral obligation to our citizens and loyal allies, and we must make sure that obligation is being kept. Like many veterans, we have spent the last few weeks working without sleep to try to get as many people as we could through the gates and to safety.

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.

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 make America proud.

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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.

In the coming days, we will have more to share with our colleagues and the American people about what we learned, but after meeting with Marines, soldiers, and dedicated State Department officials on the ground—we want the world to know first and foremost that we have never been prouder to be Americans.

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