National security expert Juliette Kayyem joked that her Wednesday appearance on GBH’s Boston Public Radio amounted to “Juliette Kayyem unplugged” as the conversation turned to Rep. Seth Moulton’s (D-MA) recent "secret" trip to the Afghanistan capital of Kabul.
Along with Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), the two congressmen boarded a commercial plane headed for the city amid widely-reported chaos, as thousands of Americans and Afghans scramble to make an exit before the Taliban fully takes control of the country.
"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," the two said in statement released Tuesday.
“This is boy behavior. This is frat behavior,” Kayyem said of Moulton, adding “I know the congressman. This is unforgivable. And if someone primaried him, I would definitely be on board for that.”
Representatives from Moulton’s office have yet to respond to GBH News’ request for comment.
Kayyem isn’t the first to raise doubt about the value of having two congressmen tour a war zone unannounced. In a letter sent to House members Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wrote “I write to reiterate that the Departments of Defense and State have requested that Members not travel to Afghanistan and the region during this time of danger.”
As reporters scrambled to get answers on the unsanctioned trip, a representative from Moulton’s office insisted that the two would only be leaving on a plane with enough empty seating so as not to take up space that would have otherwise gone to Americans or vulnerable Afghan citizens.
Kayyem wasn’t having it.
“Let me just ask: if you’re in the military and two congressmen say, ‘Hey, we need to get out, do you have any extra seats?’ What’s your answer? You can’t answer no. You can’t,” she said.
“They are feeding a line to the public that they were not a distraction. They are a distraction in every way,” she added.
Kayyem went further, saying of Rep. Moulton, “not only is it not acceptable, it shows such bad judgement as a leader. What’s he doing there? He’s clearly bored with the job. I mean he already ran for president? And he’s been there five minutes. [Now] he wants to go play rookie soldier? Come on.”
The Harvard Professor and CNN analyst ended her diatribe with a comparison to a now-infamous photo of former President George W. Bush gazing out the window of Air Force One over New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
“Thank god he didn’t get off the plane... the distraction of a president, the distraction of people showing up with no notice” is significant, she said.
“I think there’s very few mistakes a congressman can make that are unforgivable,” Kayyem said. “I just [think] none of their excuses are ringing true to me. None of them.”