Sometimes, congressional hearings take unexpected turns. Same thing happens in London, apparently.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, was invited to testify Tuesday before a British parliamentary panel on the issue of domestic terrorism and self-radicalization. King has conducted his own series of hearings on the issue in Washington, drawing criticism from some on the left for, in their view, unfairly targeting the Muslim American community instead of addressing the threat of terrorism more broadly.
On Tuesday, as he was answering questions, a member of parliament put King on the defensive on an entirely different matter: his zealous support for the militant IRA in the 1980s.
“There’s been some surprise in the United States but also in Britain that you have a job in looking and investigating into terrorism when your own past quotes about terrorism ... seem to [make you] an apologist for terrorism,” said the Labor Party’s David Winnick. Winnick went on to recall several remarks King made in the ’80s, including when he said, “If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the IRA for it.”
King, asked if he stood by those remarks, said he did -- “in the context” of when they were made.
“I was trying to put it in a perspective to show that there were people -- that this is not just the terrorist mayhem it was made out to be -- that there were significant leaders on the Republican side,” King said as part of the exchange, which was first spotted by Salon’s War Room blog.
King has been previously accused of hypocrisy because of a perceived contrast between his past and current views on terrorism. But he has said that he sees no parallel between the IRA and violent Islamist extremism.
In an interview with The Post earlier this year, he said that, in the Northern Ireland conflict, he wanted “a peace agreement, a working agreement, where the nationalist community would feel their rights would be respected .... I felt that the IRA, in the context of Irish history, and Sinn Fein were a legitimate force that had to be recognized and you wouldn’t have peace without them.”
The full video can be viewed above, or here. The exchange begins at 10:18:50.
Just as King has failed to convince many of his critics at home, he appears to have failed to convince at least one parliamentary critic in London.