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January 5, 2011 2:33 pm

Hearings on Radicalization of American Muslims: Yes or No?

avatar by Ed Koch


Congressman Peter King.

As a result of the November election, in which Republicans won control of the House of Representatives, Congressman Peter King is the new Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.  I have no doubt that Peter King, who represents the 3rd Congressional District on Long Island, is dedicated to the security of the United States.  Indeed, believing in his special credentials, I have crossed party lines on several occasions and endorsed him.

The Congressman’s decision to hold hearings into what he calls the “radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism” is, in my judgment, a sensible act on his part which should be supported by the American public.  His decision is opposed, understandably, by some leaders of the American Muslim community.  Far less understandable is the opposition of The New York Times editorial board and others who have attacked King for his plan to hold hearings.  The Times accused him of “blather” and “bluster” and lectured him in a January 2, 2011 editorial:

“He had better recall his role as a gifted intermediary in helping to settle Ireland’s sectarian troubles.  He would have bristled at any simplistic talk about the ‘radicalization’ of the Irish Catholic or Protestant communities.  Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security is a very serious job.  Mr. King needs to get serious.”

The Times also stated that King “has popped off far too often in recent years, claiming, among other things, that President George W. Bush ‘deserves a medal’ for authorizing waterboarding.”

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With respect to George W. Bush and waterboarding, I do not believe that method of physical interrogation has been found to be torture and a violation of the U.S. Constitution by the U.S. Supreme Court.  On occasion, its supporters have claimed that it has protected the U.S. from terrorist attacks.  If that were proven true, I believe The New York Times and like-minded believers would still oppose its use, regardless if American lives were saved.  Interestingly, a Westlaw search did not produce a single U.S. Supreme Court decision mentioning waterboarding.

With respect to the Times raising the straw man that King would never have tolerated a charge of radicalization against the Irish Catholic or Protestant communities in the U.S., I conclude that is the real blather and bluster.  I do not recall a single terrorist act committed by the Irish American community against the U.S.  Yes, some did run guns to their coreligionists in Ireland, which were used in Ireland, not the U.S.

The Times editorial fails to mention the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, which was made possible by President Franklin Roosevelt’s “Executive Order 9066,” which was issued in February, 1942, and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Harlan Stone in 1944.  I don’t recall the Times’ position on that matter when the Supreme Court upheld FDR’s now infamous executive order.  In retrospect, the reason it was infamous is that not a single act of  terrorism or disloyalty to the U.S. was ever attributable to a Japanese American, not even in Hawaii, where the large Japanese American population was not interned.

In his December 19, 2010, Newsday op-ed, King defended the proposed hearings.  He wrote:
“The great majority of Muslims in our country are hardworking, dedicated Americans.  Yet a Pew Poll showed that 15 percent of Muslim Americans between 18 and 29 say suicide bombing is justified.  I also know of imams instructing members of their mosques not to cooperate with law enforcement officials investigating the recruiting of young men in their mosques as suicide bombers.  We need to find the reasons for this alienation.”

Currently many Western countries, e.g., Great Britain, France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Holland and the U.S., have been surprised that their own native born and naturalized citizens have been responsible for planning and executing terrorist acts, sometimes failures and other times successful.  A large number of Islamic terrorist acts have been foiled by U.S. domestic security agencies that infiltrated the plotters’ small circle of activists.

U.S. law enforcement agencies have been criticized for entrapping Muslim American terrorists, a defense which, while often offered, is rarely successful.  However, some Muslim organizations without terrorist connections have joined the chorus of attacking the U.S. government for its efforts to infiltrate suspected Muslim organizations.

I support U.S. surveillance and infiltration of Muslim organizations on reasonable suspicion and when court ordered, to ascertain whether or not terrorist activity is present or if there is support of such activity by providing funds, often through the use of charitable organizations.

Did the Times editorial writer who denounced Peter King weigh the warning of Attorney General Eric Holder, as reported by the New York Post on December 22, 2010?  The article stated:
“In a blunt, urgent warning, Attorney General Eric Holder said the threat from homegrown terrorists has increased significantly – and the prime cause is a fanatical US-born Muslim cleric.  ‘It is one of the things that keeps me up at night,’ Holder told ABC News.  ‘You didn’t worry about this even two years ago – about individuals, about Americans, to the extent that we do now.'”

The Post article also reported “Holder noted that 50 of the 126 people indicted in the United States on terror-related charges over the past two years were American citizens.”

Peter King is no Johnny-Come-Lately to the cause of protecting America from terrorists.  Do recall the 2006 incident when a number of Muslims boarded a plane in Minneapolis and fellow passengers alarmed by their actions, none of which was criminal, reported their observations to the flight crew.  The captain ordered the Muslims from the plane.  Those evicted sued the passengers who had made the complaints against them.

It was Peter King who successfully introduced legislation, ultimately enacted into law, which protected those and future passengers who report suspicious behavior by passengers on airplanes from being the object of lawsuits.  Congressman King is now seeking to protect America and the Muslim American community.  How?  By holding hearings on whether or not the American Muslim community is becoming radicalized and giving aid and comfort to America’s enemies.

Remember, we are at war with Islamic terrorists who, according to the U.S. government, have Al-Qaeda cells at work in 62 countries.  Islamic terrorists have made it clear that they want to kill Americans – men, women, and children.  If the hearings establish that the American Muslim community, like the Japanese American community during World War II, is devoted and loyal to the U.S., wouldn’t that be of enormous assistance in protecting members of the American Muslim community from the charges that have been made against them?

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