Adam Kinzinger, Chris Murphy Tweet Contradicting Memories From Afghanistan Trip

Representative Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, disputed details of an account from a bipartisan 2011 trip to Afghanistan shared by Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, in a Twitter thread describing the U.S. mission in the nation as "flawed."

The Taliban, an extremist militant group, has rapidly regained control of vast swaths of Afghanistan as the U.S. and Western allies have withdrawn their forces from the country. While the agreement leading to the withdrawal was signed under former President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden has pushed forward with bringing home U.S. troops from the country and bringing an end to America's longest war.

"I want to share with you a story from a 2011 trip to Afghanistan that perfectly encapsulates why our mission there was flawed by design and why, despite the heroism of our soldiers, it's time to leave," Murphy, who was serving in the House of Representatives in 2011, tweeted on Friday.

He went on to recount passing by farms near a small town in Herat Province during a tour with the bipartisan delegation.

2/ I was there with a bipartisan House delegation. We wanted to get outside of Kabul to see Obama's "surge" in action.

The military picked Parmakan, a small town in Herat Province. If I recall, it had been controlled by the Taliban, but U.S. forces had retaken it.

— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) August 13, 2021

"The elders told us how the Taliban used to come into town and steal their crops. Now, with U.S. Army protection, the farmers could harvest in peace and sell their crops at market prices. The Taliban were still their customers, but at least now they got paid, thanks to the U.S.," Murphy explained.

The Democratic senator said that he was told that one field was full of poppy flowers, which are used to produce heroin and opium.

"I turned to one of the Republicans on the trip, Rep. Adam Kenzinger [sic], and said, 'So the U.S. is here protecting the heroin trade that provides the Taliban with an income to continue the insurgency we are supposed to be fighting?'" Murphy wrote.

But Kinzinger disputed the details of the story in a Saturday Twitter post.

"Not how I remember this. The villagers were forced to grow poppy by Taliban who would harvest it at night to fund terror. That's why we were there in the first place to see this problem. It certainly wasn't a gleeful civilian happy for our assistance in poppy production," the Republican congressman wrote, retweeting Murphy's post.

Not how I remember this. The villagers were forced to grow poppy by Taliban who would harvest it at night to fund terror. That’s why we were there in the first place to see this problem. It certainly wasn’t a gleeful civilian happy for our assistance in poppy production.

— Adam Kinzinger (@AdamKinzinger) August 14, 2021

Murphy said in his thread that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan "was a recruitment boon for the Taliban." He used his story to argue that "even when we 'won' (took territory from the Taliban), we were losing (safeguarding their income)."

"From the start, the mission was flawed by design," the Democratic senator wrote.

U.S. military and intelligence officials reportedly believe that Afghanistan's capital Kabul could fall to the Taliban within a month to 90 days. The Biden administration this week redeployed 3,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to assist with the evacuation of U.S. embassy officials and others in Kabul amid the Taliban's rapid advance.

Although analysts long believed that the Taliban would retake control of much of the country in the wake of a complete U.S. withdrawal, the speed at which it has occurred has appeared to surprise the Biden administration.

A peace agreement was first signed between the U.S. and the Taliban in February 2020, during the Trump administration. That deal would have withdrawn all U.S. troops by May 1, but Biden extended the deadline to September 11 after he took office. The president later moved it forward to August 31, and has remained committed to the withdrawal even as the Taliban continues to advance.

"I do not regret my decision," Biden said this week. "Afghan leaders have to come together. We lost thousands—lost to death and injury—thousands of American personnel. They've got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation."

Chris Murphy and Adam Kinzinger
Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) and Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois) publicly disagreed over their memories of a 2011 bipartisan trip to Afghanistan in a Twitter squabble. In the photo on the left, Murphy speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on May 11 in Washington, D.C. In the photo on the right, Kinzinger speaks during the Select Committee investigation of the January 6 attack on the U.S, Capitol, during their first hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on July 27. Greg Nash-Pool/CHIP SOMODEVILLA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Kinzinger has been critical of the Trump and Biden administration's decisions in Afghanistan. In another Twitter post shared earlier on Saturday, the GOP lawmaker called Zalmay Khalilzad, who was appointed by Trump as the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, "naive." Khalilzad was key to negotiating the February 2020 agreement with the Taliban.

"Many of us even directly told [Khalilzad] he was getting played and scammed. He truly thought the Taliban meant well. Unreal and naive," Kinzinger wrote.

Newsweek reached out to Murphy's press secretary for further comment, but did not immediately receive a response.