By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — Massachusetts Congressman Jake Auchincloss commanded infantry troops in Afghanistan in 2012. He shares the emptiness that so many fellow veterans and their families feel right now as news from Afghanistan continues to show the Taliban taking control and approaching the capital city Kabul.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled Kabul and the U.S. evacuated Americans from the country on Sunday.

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“As a veteran, it’s painful. It’s painful to think of the Afghan interpreters with whom I worked, the villagers through whose villages I patrolled, and think about what their life is like right now,” Auchincloss said.

“You can’t fight your way to victory in counter-insurgency, you need to broker a political solution. And despite building an air force and building an army, and crafting many of the organs of state for the governors in Kabul, they line their own pockets instead of delivering political statesmanship,” Auchincloss told WBZ-TV.

He also said he believes President Joe Biden correctly assessed that Americans could not sustain Afghanistan as a “forever war.”

There were successes, like the death of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, Auchincloss said, but he worries for the future of Afghanistan under Taliban rule.

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Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton, who is also a Marine veteran, released a statement that said in part:

To say that today is anything short of a disaster would be dishonest. Worse, it was avoidable. The time to debate whether we stay in Afghanistan has passed, but there is still time to debate how we manage our retreat. For months, I have been calling on the Administration to evacuate our allies immediately—not to wait for paperwork, for shaky agreements with third countries, or for time to make it look more “orderly.”

While I am proud that a strong, bipartisan majority in Congress voted to expand the Special Immigrant Visa program in support of our Afghan friends, my worst fear has become realized: That ultimately this effort would distract from what is truly needed, an immediate evacuation. The fact that, at this hour, we have not even secured the civilian half of Kabul Airport is testament to our moral and operational failure. We need to rectify this immediately. America and our allies must drop the onerous visa requirements where a typo can condemn an ally to torture and death, and the military must continue the evacuation for as long as it takes.

We should also not forget that the tragedy that unfolds before us today was set in motion by Secretary Pompeo and President Trump, who negotiated in secret with the Taliban terrorists last year in order to meet a campaign promise.

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Today’s tragedy must also serve as a wakeup call to Congress, who holds ultimate, Constitutional responsibility for sending our best and brightest to war on the nation’s behalf. Successive leaders of both parties have failed to hold the votes for re-authorizing this conflict for the last two decades since we invaded to find Osama bin Laden. For that, all of us in Congress should be ashamed. Staff