Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., refuted as “entirely distorted” on Wednesday a front page New York Times article outlining his storied relationship with the terrorist group, the Irish Republican Army.
King's past support of the IRA provides fuel for critics who complain that, as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, King is profiling a single group of Americans by hosting a hearing this week on the dangers of homegrown Islamic radicalization. "His pro-I.R.A. past gives his many critics an obvious opening,” Scott Shane writes.
King adamantly denied that his involvement with the I.R.A. had anything but positive ramifications as he made the rounds on the morning shows Wednesday, as he has all week.
“President Barack Obama offered me the position of ambassador to Ireland,” King said on CBS’s Early Show, also referring to encouragement from former President Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. “If they thought in any way that any of my actions were wrong, I doubt the president of the United States would have offered me the position of ambassador to Ireland.
“What I did was take an active role,” he said. “I was absolutely essential in bringing about that peace process. Hundreds, maybe thousands of people are alive today in Northern Ireland because of my efforts.” Still, King acknowledged, “terrorism is terrorism”—a point his critics will inevitably spotlight.
“King’s exactly right to say there’s a difference of approach between the I.R.A. and Al Qaeda,” Tom Parker, a counterterrorism specialist at Amnesty International, told the Times. “But I personally consider both of them terrorist groups.”
On Thursday, King will attempt to substantiate his allegations that al-Qaida “is attempting to radicalize the Muslim-America community,” he said on NBC’s Today show. “I have said over and over again the overwhelming majority of Muslim-Americans are outstanding Americans, but Al Qaeda has had results.
“We saw the attempted subway bomber in New York; Shahzad, the Times Square bomber; Major Hasan at Fort Hood,” King said. “The attorney general said he can’t sleep because he’s concerned about radicalization going on in this country… I want to have a public hearing—the hysteria and yelling and screaming has been caused by my opponents.”