Oklahoma congressman pulls plug on freelance Afghanistan chopper rescue mission
An Oklahoma congressman Wednesday scrapped his freelance effort to pluck a family out of turbulent Afghanistan after the U.S. warned against the “extremely dangerous” planned helicopter mission.
Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin, who was in Tajikistan earlier this week, said he is returning to the U.S. after diplomats and the Pentagon effectively told him to leave the evacuations to the professionals.
“I am heading home,” Mullin said in an Instagram post. “Did I go dark for a little? Yes because it wasn’t safe to communicate.”
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Mullin continued to harshly criticize President Joe Biden for withdrawing all troops while a small number of Americans remain in Afghanistan.
“Am I extremely disappointed in how we (United States) left Americans behind? That would be an understatement,” Mullin added.
Mullin, who has no military experience or training, hoped to use a helicopter and bundles of cash to extricate a woman, who is a U.S. citizen, and her four children from the war-torn nation now under the rule of the Taliban.
The congressman sought help from U.S. diplomats in neighboring Tajikistan to bring the chopper and large sums of cash, which would normally be prohibited, into the country, which he apparently planned to use as a staging ground for the Afghan operation.
The diplomats refused to help Mullin and informed officials in Washington, who hit the roof when they heard about the half-baked scheme.
“To say this is extremely dangerous is a massive understatement,” a State Department official told The Washington Post before Mullin ended his quixotic mission.
Mullin, 44, a former plumbing business owner and standout high school wrestler, is the third lawmaker to defy warnings to stay out of the region as the U.S. wraps up its involvement in the 20-year Afghan conflict.
Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Mich., last week hopped rides on military planes to make an unannounced visit to Kabul in the final days of the massive airlift that evacuated more than 100,000 Americans and allies. They were roundly criticized for distracting military assets from the mission.
Biden says the U.S. remains determined to get an estimated 200 American remaining citizens out of Afghanistan if they want to leave. The final U.S. troops flew out of Kabul just before midnight, ending the conflict that started when the U.S. invaded in 2001 after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.