WaPo: King's IRA Ties Complicate Homeland Security Hearings
12:15 PM, Mar 7, 2011 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Washington Post ran a cover story in Saturday's issue about New York Republican congressman Peter King, the chair of the House Homeland Security committee. King, who has started a series of hearings investigating homegrown terrorism and the federal government's response to it, has been accused of holding "witch trials." (The truth, however, is much less salacious; King's hearings so far have focused on efficacy in government.) King has said he's continuing with the hearings, even as some protest in New York this past weekend.
But the Post reminds readers of the Irish-American King's past support of the Provisional Irish Republican Army during the height of the so-called "Troubles" in Northern Ireland:
These quotes from the past aren't pretty, given the bloodiness wrought by both Catholic republican and Protestant unionist radicals in Northern Ireland. And the implication, of course, is that King's toughness on Islamic terrorism since 9/11 is hypocritical. In fact, the Post quotes officials from Amnesty International and the Council on American-Islamic Relations that explicitly (and expectedly) mentions the "hypocrisy" and "irony" in King's statements from 20 years ago.
Concern about King's past support for the IRA is warranted. The IRA terrorized the British Army and the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland alike. Although King doesn't support the IRA now, that support represents a significant aspect of his early political career. That fact is reprehensible.
But what if King's position today is the result of something much simpler: that 9/11 changed his perception of terrorism, especially as a New York congressman. It's difficult to see how King's complicated history with the IRA delegitimizes his hearings about homegrown Islamic terrorism. More to the point, Major Nidal Hassan, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallub, and Faisal Shahzad were all radicalized Muslims and citizens or residents of the United States at some point. Is our government doing everything it can to find and prevent domestic terrorism operations? Whether or not King should have cozied up to the IRA before the Good Friday Agreement is a separate question. And in 2011, the first question is the more critical.
Here's what King had to say yesterday about this Thursday's full committee hearing: