Congressman Seth Moulton on Friday defended his secret trip to Afghanistan earlier this week after facing intense backlash, describing the scenes in Kabul and the chaotic US evacuations as a “total f—ing disaster.”
The Massachusetts Democrat caused a stir when he and fellow Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) flew in and out of Kabul on a charter aircraft Tuesday to spend 15 hours on the ground.
Speaking after Thursday’s deadly attack that saw an ISIS-K suicide bomber kill 13 US service members and at least 169 Afghans outside the airport gate, Moulton told CBS This Morning he had no regrets about going to Kabul.
Moulton, who served as a Marine in Iraq before being elected to Congress, suggested he would do it all again if it meant helping Afghans escape the Taliban-controlled country.
“I don’t care what people in Washington say. The people on the ground, I mean, literally were hugging me, thanking me for coming,” he said.
He added that they managed to help get out “several families” by being there on the ground.
Moulton described the suicide bombing as “absolutely devastating”, saying he’d witnessed Marines just days earlier going out into the crowds to “put little Afghan girls on their backs, pull Afghan women by their hands.”
In a separate interview with the New York Magazine published before the bombing, Moulton said the botched evacuations were a “disaster.”
“The thing that everybody needs to understand, even if you completely agree with the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw, the way they have handled this has been a total f—ing disaster,” he said.
“It will be measured in bodies, because a lot of people are dying because they can’t get out.”
Describing the scenes on the ground, Moulton said he’d seen things that were “truly out of this world”, including a number of US service members breaking down in tears.
“I’ve never seen more people cry, just salty Marines, seasoned State Department veterans just break down in tears, talking about their work, and hugging me, and saying thank you for coming,” he said.
He added that it was “the most visceral, raw view of humanity that I will probably ever see in my life.”
Traveling through Qatar on the way back home, Moulton said he also witnessed the conditions Afghan refugees were enduring after escaping, including staying in an airbase hangar with 120-degree temperatures.
“They’re in hangars, some of them are just on the tarmac, and it’s crazy,” he said.
After arriving back in the US, Moulton and Meijer were both criticized by US officials and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement warning members of Congress not to travel to Kabul.
In a series of tweets, Moulton blasted the Biden administration for its treatment of the military who are still carrying out the evacuation operation amid the Aug. 31 deadline and deadly attack.
“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,” he tweeted.
“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. Sadly and frustratingly, getting our people out depends on maintaining the current, bizarre relationship with the Taliban.”