US lawmakers violate orders with trip to Kabul during airlift

Washington: Two US congressmen have revealed that they violated official orders to travel to Kabul during the chaotic airlift that has seen the United States and allies try to evacuate tens of thousands of people fleeing the Taliban.

The revelation by Democratic congressman Seth Moulton and his Republican colleague Peter Meijer prompted an angry statement from the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday. 

“Today with @RepMeijer I visited Kabul airport to conduct oversight on the evacuation,” said Moulton. The two men are veterans of the Iraq war.

“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 continued on Twitter late Tuesday.

More than 80,000 people have been evacuated since August 14, the day before the Taliban took control of Kabul and seized power in Afghanistan.

But huge crowds remain outside Kabul airport, with countless others hiding in the city and elsewhere in the country still hoping to flee the threat of reprisals and repression under the new regime.

Time is running out to save the rest, with an August 31 deadline set by US President Joe Biden looming, and the Taliban saying they will refuse to extend it.

The two representatives flew to the Middle East on their own and then traveled on a military plane from a US-allied country to Kabul, all without coordinating with US diplomats or military command, American media reported. – AFP