As a result of a recent event involving an aircraft and underpants Representative Peter King (R-Not From Iowa), the senior Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, has again come forth to bring his expertise on questions of international terrorism to the national debate.
King, a Congressman who represents a district that straddles New York’s Long Island (NY-3), previously served as the Comptroller of Nassau County and a member of Hempstead, New York’s Town Council, which wouldn’t seem to be the kind of résumé that would give you much credibility in this arena—but Mr. King is a special case.
You see, Mr. King knows a great deal about terrorism…from the inside…because for many years the personal cause that drove his life was to be an active and public supporter of a terrorist group.
And that’s why, today, we’ll be connecting the dots between Congressman King and the Irish Republican Army.
“If this is a war on terrorism, then this person should not be treated as an ordinary criminal.”
–Peter King, on “Good Morning America”, January 6, 2010
When King says don’t treat them like an ordinary criminal, what he really means is that he supports a variety of interrogation methods for those who might be terrorists. In fact, in an interview with “Politico” last August King took offense to the very idea that Attorney General Holder would even investigate CIA interrogation practices:
“It’s bulls***. It’s disgraceful. You wonder which side they’re on…”
In the same interview King defended the practice of threatening the family of those being interrogated as well as the use of a power drill as a tool of coercion, both practices that qualify as torture under US law:
“Why is it OK to waterboard someone, which causes physical pain, but not threaten someone and not cause pain?”
He’s so fervent about stopping terrorism that, in a 2001 WABC interview, King even offered his support for the use of tactical nuclear weapons against terrorists.
And just the other day, he wondered why a terror suspect would even be allowed to fly at all.
With all due respect, Congressman…they allow you to fly, don’t they?
The (mostly Catholic) Irish Republican Army (and its political wing, Sinn Féin) has been seeking to unite Northern Ireland with the rest of Ireland for nearly a century. This has been challenged by the (mostly Protestant) Ulster Volunteer Force, who want to continue Northern Ireland’s status as a separate entity within the United Kingdom.
It is reported that the IRA killed more than 2000 people from 1972 to 2002 (in fact, they apologized for those killings); the British Army response includes the events that were the inspiration for the U2 song “Sunday Bloody Sunday”.
Americans have been among the victims of IRA bombings; the recently departed Bush Administration made a deal for compensation for some of those victims.
The IRA had a foreign policy, as well, including a relationship with Libya’s Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi that was well underway as early as 1973, involving, at a minimum, the illegal importation of weapons and Semtex explosive into Ireland.
Americans played a major part in the fundraising support for the IRA’s campaign of terror—and prominent among those Americans…was…wait for it…(not yet a Congressman) Peter King, who, ironically, had his telephone calls monitored due to his status as a terrorist sympathizer by the same intelligence establishment he now oversees in his Congressional capacity.
How sympathetic was King? Consider this comment, from a 1982 speech King gave at pro-IRA rally in Nassau County, New York:
“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.”
(Now Congressman) King was on the dais for the 28th Annual Irish Northern Aid Testimonial Dinner in 1999 (NORAID being the IRA’s US fundraising arm). In 2005 the Bush Administration ordered such fundraising stopped; this because the IRA, in the Administration’s view, was still involved in criminal activity in Ireland.
According to Federal Election Commission records NORAID’s publicity director, attorney Martin Galvin, has only contributed to one Federal political campaign from 1979 to 2008—Peter King’s. This is the same Martin Galvin that reportedly supported the 32-County Sovereignty Movement, which was eventually designated by the US State Department as a “foreign terrorist organization”.
NORAID gave back to King as well. In 1985 they arranged for King to be named Grand Marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade—which, in New York City, is about as big a deal as a politician could ever hope for.
King is also reported to have frequented a Belfast bar known as an IRA hangout, the Felons Club.
An Irish judge once refused to allow King to attend a trial for an IRA member because the judge felt King “…was an obvious collaborator with the IRA.”
By the way, this is the same Peter King that once told John McCain he:
“…shouldn’t shy away from raising the Ayers connection, to raise questions about Obama’s judgment.”
(Remember William Ayers? He’s the terrorist that Sarah Palin wanted everyone to know Obama was “palling around with” during the 2008 campaign.)
The American fundraising was driving the political leadership in the UK to fits, including former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who, according to notes taken by her staff in 1979, felt that:
“The Americans must be made to realise that for so long as they continued to finance terrorism, they would be responsible for the deaths of US citizens as well as others…The Americans must be brought to face the consequences of their actions.”
So at this point I could end the story by yelling: “Hypocrite, hypocrite, big stinky-butt hypocrite!”…or by suggesting we get all Cheney on the guy and waterboard him to see what other IRA plots he may still be aware of…but the fact is, the picture is a lot more complex than what’s been presented up to this point.
There is reporting that suggests King was willing to meet with representatives of both Sinn Féin and the opposition Ulster Unionist movement, and that his efforts not only helped the Irish peace process, but came at considerable personal risk.
He was also closely associated with Bill Clinton’s efforts to promote peace in Ireland, an unusual partnership for a Republican Congressman and a serving Democratic President in the “modern era” of post-Watergate politics.
And it wasn’t just King—Teddy Kennedy, Alfonse D’Amato, and [insert the name of virtually any “downstate” New York politician here] were working the same rallies and knew some or all of the same people King knew—and were hoping to harvest from the same community of voters and donors and volunteers.
And that’s how we get to the great irony of today’s story:
There is one man in American Government who has literally “palled around” with terrorists—in their own bar, back home in Belfast—and he wasn’t content to just pal around with the terrorists, he went further and actually helped the terrorists fundraise on US soil…for years…despite the fact that the terrorists were also attacking Americans.
And if that wasn’t enough, he kicked it up a notch and palled around with two opposing groups of terrorists, and in doing so, actually made the world a better place.
And yet, in today’s Republiteabag Party Express© environment, when he might be able to apply some of that Irish experience to this conflict, he can’t…which is too bad, because if he did something big, bipartisan, and statesmanlike, right now, it might give him the best shot he’ll ever have at becoming a Senator…in a time when Republiteabaggers badly need a few seats.
In fact, if he was able to tell his own Party this story, it might be the best thing he could do to get more than one new Senator elected…but, ironically, he can’t, because if he ever promoted his own history, he would be rejected by his own Party…as a “dagblessid terr-ir-ist”…which would mean that the guy who once told John McCain to exploit a terrorist connection…might well be outed as one by McCain’s former running mate.
Which, my friends, is some pretty deep irony.