Yesterday, with the opening of the 112th Congress, Representative Peter King (R-NY) succeeded Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MI) as the Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee.
In the past few weeks Congressman King, no stranger to exaggerated sensationalism, has attracted a great deal of media attention for labeling Wikileaks a terrorist organization (a stretch by any definition of the term) and calling for the prosecution of the New York Times under the Espionage Act.
Congressman King has said that his first order of business as Chair will be to hold hearings on Muslim-American radicalization.
This has caused more than a little concern in the Muslim community since King made headlines in 2004 by channeling Senator Joseph McCarthy in an interview with Sean Hannity in which he claimed – without any apparent factual basis whatsoever – that 85% of the mosques in America were controlled by “Islamic fundamentalists” and went on to describe the members of these mosques as “an enemy living among us.”
I suppose we shouldn’t be terribly surprised by Congressman King’s antics, as he has never been particularly good at spotting real terrorists. King was a high profile supporter of the Provisional IRA for almost twenty years telling a political meeting in Nassau County, New York, in 1982:
“We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry.”
In the course of more than three decades of violence in Northern Ireland the Provisional IRA is variously estimated to have killed between 1,700 and 1,900 people and to have injured thousands more.
These attacks included the bombing of a Remembrance Sunday (Veteran’s Day) Service in Enniskillen in which eleven members of the congregation died, the bombing of a MacDonald’s in Warrington that killed two small children, and the bombing of the London department store Harrods, which claimed six lives, including that of a United States citizen.