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Tilting at Windmills

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March 9, 2011

THE ANTI-TERROR CRUSADER WHO MAKES SOME EXCEPTIONS.... As if Homeland Security Committee Chairman Pete King (R-N.Y.) didn't have enough problems, his anti-Muslim efforts have sparked renewed interest in his previous support for terrorist activities.

For Representative Peter T. King, as he seizes the national spotlight this week with a hearing on the radicalization of American Muslims, it is the most awkward of resume entries. Long before he became an outspoken voice in Congress about the threat from terrorism, he was a fervent supporter of a terrorist group, the Irish Republican Army.

"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," Mr. King told a pro-I.R.A. rally on Long Island, where he was serving as Nassau County comptroller, in 1982. Three years later he declared, "If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the I.R.A. for it."

As Mr. King, a Republican, rose as a Long Island politician in the 1980s, benefiting from strong Irish-American support, the I.R.A. was carrying out a bloody campaign of bombing and sniping, targeting the British Army, Protestant paramilitaries and sometimes pubs and other civilian gathering spots. His statements, along with his close ties to key figures in the military and political wings of the I.R.A., drew the attention of British and American authorities.

Putting aside the nature of the conflict in Ireland, King didn't exactly leave any ambiguities about his sympathies at the time -- the congressman who now claims to be anti-terrorism crusader offered explicit support for terrorism.

Don't worry, though. King can explain.

Of comparisons between the terrorism of the I.R.A. and that of Al Qaeda and its affiliates, Mr. King said: "I understand why people who are misinformed might see a parallel. The fact is, the I.R.A. never attacked the United States. And my loyalty is to the United States."

That's not a bad spin, I suppose, for someone desperate to maintain some shred of credibility. But I have a quick follow-up question for King: Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood never attacked the United States, either. Is he comfortable with them, too?

To be sure, the differences between the IRA and al Qaeda are plentiful and important, and it's absurd to equate the two. In a general sense, however, both are fairly described as terrorist organizations, and that's relevant in the debate over King's crusade because we're left with a Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee who's argued, publicly and repeatedly, that some terrorist activities are fine with him. King is anti-terror with an asterisk -- it depends on whether he's sympathetic to those doing the killing.

On a related note, it's worth mentioning that the Republican from Long Island was on Fox News this morning, and said the New York Times was "biased" for reporting what he said and did in the 1980s.

I'm fairly certain that's not what "bias" means.

Steve Benen 10:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (39)

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Comments

I lived in NYC in the late '70's and until the early '90's.
I guarantee you there were more IRA supporters of terror in that city, than there are Muslim terrorist wanna-be's in the entire USA. I know and worked with a whole lot of them.
Even into the mid'90's, I knew of people going off to join Sinn Fein in Ireland, or supporting it from here - not exactly a band of Mother Theresa's, they.

But, where's the news - ANOTHER Republical hypocrite?
Yawn.
What's that Kenyan/Muslim/Fascist/Hitler usurper doing now?

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 9, 2011 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Bias? Seriously? That's his defense? Not that he ever did anything, or said anything worth reporting on given his current crusade against muslims. Public officials should never have anything they've done or said in the past be brought up in public by reporters unless the reporters clear it first with said public official as being supportive of said public official. Otherwise, it's bias. What a crock. Any hint of irony in this situation, given his bias against Muslim-Americans is lost to this 'gentleman', I am sure.

Posted by: In what respect, Charlie? on March 9, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

"...the struggle against British imperialism..."

Sounds like Obama wasn't the only pseudo-American who grew up in Kenya.

Posted by: Grumpy on March 9, 2011 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Bias = facts

But then, if Fox is your standard of fair and balanced, telling unpleasant facts must seem very unfair.

Posted by: mlm on March 9, 2011 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Long before he became an outspoken voice in Congress about the threat from terrorism, he was a fervent supporter of a terrorist group, the Irish Republican Army.

one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter.

violence is NEVER a solution.

Posted by: pluege on March 9, 2011 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

If dr. laura losing her radio show due to her mouth is a First Amendment Violation, then the Times printing the truth is bias. Yeah, republicans love them some constitution.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on March 9, 2011 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

You ever notice how the GOP always seems to pick as committee chairmen it's worst and most embarassing members, the ones who seem guaranteed to be the biggest P.R. headaches? You'd think they might have learned from the 90s when they had to deal with the non-stop humiliation generated by the likes of Dan Burton and Al D'Amato, but guess not.

Posted by: gf120581 on March 9, 2011 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

And has anyone seen HIS birth certificate.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on March 9, 2011 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

When will King be investigating the TWENTY ONE Catholic priests in Philadelphia that have been terrorizing America's youth?

Posted by: DAY on March 9, 2011 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, no problem -- attacking our closest ally in the world. No big deal. Glad I don't live in this idiot's district.

Posted by: Alex on March 9, 2011 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Small correction.

As for the claim that "Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood never attacked the United States," Hezbollah has http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_United_States_embassy_bombing

Posted by: M on March 9, 2011 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Other than the awful aspect of body count, why should we not draw a rough equivalent between the IRA and Al Quieda? They kill[ed] innocent people in the name of a socio-religious objective; they aim[ed] to disrupt lawful nations; they tortured people; They terroized our closest ally, etc.

I fail to see the lack of equivalency.

Posted by: bigtuna on March 9, 2011 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

I guess he's an expert on how to subvert a charity into supporting terrorism, which is what he did with Noraid, turning it into an arms-buyer who coordinated with Kadafi to supply guns for the IRA.

It's always easy for an Irishman to be a hypocrite, which makes it even easier for the descendants of those thought to be sub-human when they arrived 160 years ago ("Dogs and Irish, keep off the grass") to take on all the bigotry and ignorance of those who dumped on their ancestors. Peter King is the best example of this around.

Posted by: TCinLA on March 9, 2011 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone knows that truth has a liberal bias and because they do not want to appear biased, our corporately owned media should refrain from printing or speaking the truth!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on March 9, 2011 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

I was living in London in the mid-'70s and still remember how close a call I had with some of those bombings.

Not to mention that after we moved back to the U.S., my first husband, an Irishman from Limerick, was getting badgered by IRA reps to help move guns and/or money. I remember very clearly our conversation when he told me they promised to pay for him to go to Ireland to visit his family, in exchange for his carrying sealed packages. We stopped going to the pub where he'd been approached, and moved away shortly thereafter, in part because they started calling our house.

Peter King is full of shite, as the Irish say.

Posted by: blondie on March 9, 2011 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone should refrain from criticizing Representative King's hearings on the danger that evil, non-Christian residents of our country present.

Comparing the white Catholic I.R.A. to a bunch of muslim ragheads is grossly unfair!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on March 9, 2011 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

According to wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provisional_Irish_Republican_Army#Support_from_other_countries_and_organisations the IRA received some support from the PLO and possibly Hezbollah.

Perhaps Mr. King should expand the scope of his committee's hearing to include the world wide network of terrorism cross support.

Posted by: robert on March 9, 2011 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

"The fact is, the I.R.A. never attacked the United States."

The US and UK are both members of NATO, and according to their charter, an attack on one country is an attack on them all.

Posted by: rachelrachel on March 9, 2011 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

I was amazed that the NYT front paged this story, which has long been known, but never made prominent before in mainstream news.

The Republicans grasp at straws, yet get all the attention.

Meanwhile, the administration has grappled with real issues and made some progress without much credit or decidedly mixed reviews.

Posted by: jjm on March 9, 2011 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

bigtuna said:
Other than the awful aspect of body count, why should we not draw a rough equivalent between the IRA and Al Quieda?. . . I fail to see the lack of equivalency.

The biggest difference is that the IRA's war of terrorism ended, giving the world a model for actually winning the "War on Terror" (tm).

In the 70s and 80s the IRA turned Northern Ireland into a war zone. They even lobbed mortar rounds at Number 10 Downing Street in 1991. But last year the IRA campaign ended when they signed a power sharing agreement with protestant groups.

So what changed?

In the 70s and 80s Ireland had the worst economy in western Europe. But by 2000 the "Celtic Tiger" had become the fastest growing economy in Europe.

Terrorsits, almost by definition, have to hide among the people they supposedly are fighting for. They depend on oppressed people for support and recruits. If a people sees no hope that things ever will get better, then they will send their sons off to be martyred in a desperate attempt to strike a blow.

But if the people who are supporting the terrorists see their lives getting better, then they are likely to end their support. People with hope of a good life for themselves, and more importantly for their children, don't want to see terrorists "rocking the boat" and endangering that hope.

It's not a coincidence that Al Qaeda, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have sprung from the poorest populations in the world.

I know that I'm oversimplifying a complicated problem. But decades of adding to the misery of the supporters of mideast terrorism hasn't accomplished anything. So why not try giving those people hope instead?

It worked once.

Posted by: SteveT on March 9, 2011 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK
The fact is, the I.R.A. never attacked the United States.

Perhaps not directly, but, even if so, The IRA has, however, provided aid and training (sometimes on a mutual, two-way basis) to a large number of other terrorist organizations, from the various Arab and/or Islamic groups to the FARC in Columbia and others, many of which have attacked, kidnapped, and otherwise targetted Americans.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 9, 2011 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Rep. King's views on support for terrorist groups are even more peculiar than most recognize.

As of November 2010, there were 47 entities on the list of "foreign terrorist organizations" maintained by the Department of State. Relatively few of these have ever attacked the United States (including, as correctly noted by M above, American official locations overseas). Would it therefore be appropriate for the American sympathizers of these groups to emulate Rep. King by supporting them financially and otherwise, as he supported the IRA? After all, surely some of these supporters could likely make as good a case for their favorite group as he has tried to do for his.

Well, doing so for a modern-day Peter King could certainly be problematic for that person, because it would be unlawful. as the Department's website makes clear. Does Rep. King think that is unjust? Or was it merely really lucky for his side that he was able, in the pre-9/11 period, to support the one modern terrorist group that has ever had a valid grievance?

Posted by: Critic on March 9, 2011 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Hezbollah is widely accepted as being behind the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Lebanon in the 1980s. The bombing killed hundreds of American soldiers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Beirut_barracks_bombing

Posted by: Steve on March 9, 2011 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK
The biggest difference is that the IRA's war of terrorism ended, giving the world a model for actually winning the "War on Terror" (tm).

The IRA's assistance to other terrorist groups (e.g., FARC) in exchange for cash appears to have continued even past the suspension of the IRAs armed campaign following the 1997 Good Friday Accord. (A The 2002 report "Summary of Investigation of IRA Links to FARC Narco-Terrorists in Colombia" from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations detailed a relationship that was strong by 1998 and that continued and was current at the time of the report.) Apparently, the IRA has transformed from an active terrorist group to a terrorist consulting firm, providing aid to various groups that the US is confronting in the context of a "global war on terror", including those that have attacked America and Americans.


Posted by: cmdicely on March 9, 2011 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

They kill[ed] innocent people in the name of a socio-religious objective; they aim[ed] to disrupt lawful nations; they tortured people; They terroized our closest ally, etc.

Not to defend terrorism, but let's not forget the atrocities were conducted by both sides (or all three sides if you prefer). By the end, the Protestant paramilitaries were killing way more than the Catholics. And the Brits were committing war crimes and human rights violation for the entire time.

Echoing the above, violence is not the answer. For either side.

Posted by: martin on March 9, 2011 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Martin. I agree. I didn't support the British tactics, either... I was simply making the point that I do not see why people should pull punches for someone who supported, openly, the IRA, and then has the audacity to have hearings that impune another religion and its people. As clearly discussed above - the IRA was neck deep in various funding methods, arms deals, torture, maiming, and killing of innocent people.

King is a hypocrtically asshole, but then, that seems to be the new defining credential to be an elected Republican official in this country.

Posted by: bigtuna on March 9, 2011 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Here's my view of the King hearings http://twitgoo.com/20mjc6 I think the GOP could really be hurt by these hearings if they are not careful.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on March 9, 2011 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK
Not to defend terrorism, but let's not forget the atrocities were conducted by both sides (or all three sides if you prefer). By the end, the Protestant paramilitaries were killing way more than the Catholics.

How is that any less true of the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and, others, even al-Qaeda? You think the groups they oppose have never committed atrocities against the populations from which those groups draw support, equal to or greater than those committed by the British and/or Unionist militias against Catholics in Northern Ireland?

No, to distinguish support for the IRA -- particularly support for the IRA during its armed campaign -- from support for the various Arab and Islamic terrorist groups is to make a distinction with no valid moral justification. (And, given the linkages between the IRA and many of those groups, no internal consistency even aside from justication: as many of those groups engaged in mutual aid with the IRA when the IRA was actively engaged in armed operations, support for the IRA was literally support for a vast network of terror organizations including many of those named groups.)

Posted by: cmdicely on March 9, 2011 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

He should just say it: Muslims are 'sand niggers', just like Obama. That is what it's all about.

Posted by: nar on March 9, 2011 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Remember, Congreesman King grew up in an Irish community on Long Island. He was not brought up to be familiar with American values. His views of the British were not formed in the same manner as typical real Americans and when he sees the English all he can see are Imperialists. See page 147 of Mike Huckabees new book.

Posted by: GreenTaxman on March 9, 2011 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think the issue of the morality of terrorism (and by this, I mean deliberately killing civilians) is nearly as black and white as it is generally made out to be. According to people on this board, even if one concludes its cause was a just one, the IRA was totally wrong to place bombs in civilian targets. Yet if the organization had a conventional air force and attacked British industrial targets, this would have been just fine--even if doing so had inevitably killed a much larger number of civilians than died during the Troubles. At least, this is what the posts above seem to be suggesting. Apparently the difference would be that with the air force, there would be a lack of "intent" to kill civilians. But does this really make any sense, given that many civilian deaths would still be inevitable? In the U.S., someone can be charged with depraved indifference murder even if they didn't actually intend to kill their victim, provided that they show great indifference to the possibility of human life being lost when they commit the act. If you lost a family member to political violence, would you really care whether it was from a bomb placed in a shopping mall or from a "conventional" military raid by an aircraft?

Posted by: Lee on March 9, 2011 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

A very terse response to Mr. King would be. "Peter, you're such twerp! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 9, 2011 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Cant get enough of this blog. Your opinion and facts truly let people know what its all about.

Posted by: Clare Czar on March 9, 2011 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

So, has anyone told Mike Huckabee about Mr. King's anti-British Imperialism?

Posted by: Lance on March 9, 2011 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Congratulations Lee, you have just described why many people do not feel that there is any such thing as a 'just war' and why even many of those that do think war is justified under some circumstances, feel that those circumstances are so restrictive as to rule out almost every action the U.S. has been involved with since WWII.

Of course, in the course of doing so, you assign opinions and attitudes to the readers of this forum which most of them do not hold, but that is par for the course. In fact, not one of the posts above yours suggested in any way whatsoever, that the 'colateral damage' associated with a conventional war is acceptable. Some people here do make the distinction you describe, some of them specifically reject it, but noone tried to make that distinction in this thread before you came along.

Posted by: tanstaafl on March 9, 2011 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK
According to people on this board, even if one concludes its cause was a just one, the IRA was totally wrong to place bombs in civilian targets.

I don't think anyone on the board made that specific argument, or one from which that position could be legitimately be inferred.

Yet if the organization had a conventional air force and attacked British industrial targets, this would have been just fine--even if doing so had inevitably killed a much larger number of civilians than died during the Troubles.

I don't think anyone on the board made that specific argument, or one from which that position could be legitimately be inferred.

You are essentially setting up two different strawmen, then complaining that they aren't consistent.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 9, 2011 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

"They never attacked the United States, so their terrorism isn't a problem for me." It's also the same spin that allows vast herds of beltway aristocrats to get away with supporting the MEK.

Posted by: s9 on March 9, 2011 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

Lee, you're right.
Murder is murder.
Because it was ordered by someone in a suit who was elected, doesn't make it any more "just" than a crackdealer killing a snitch.
The problem is, however, that morons of all stripes keep electing such people for a very good reason:
They get to enjoy prosperity while most of the killing happens in foreign locales, and the average consumer has the putrid luxury of looking the other way.

Posted by: HMDK on March 10, 2011 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Echoing Lee, the Cheney administration aggressively equated violence against government and military personnel with that against civilians.

I wondered whether they wished to use the emotional impact of the word "terrorism" to defend their sickening regime rife with defense of torture and destruction of Constitutional rights.

In the event that the "permanent majority" gambit had worked, would those that attacked oppressive American government installations be deemed "terrorists" regardless of their affiliation?

Could one bomb the J Edgar Hoover Memorial Interrogation Center, kill no one, but STILL be labeled a "terrorist"?

I think one could, and this belittles the injustice of what we used to call "terrorism".

This is mind, King specifically cited "military" targets in his sympathetic quote. I can voice my concerns about his questionable inquiry into a specific religion's adherents quite readily, but this quote alone does not strengthen it a great deal.

Did King never condemn the IRA's civilian attacks? If he did, it takes some of the punch out of this faux pas. (Much as I despise defending Xian conservatives.)

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on March 11, 2011 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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