Player of the Week: Rep. Pete King

Mar 8, 2011 Issues: Domestic Radicalization / Radicalization Hearings

By The Hill Editors - 03/08/11

Throughout his political career, Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) has not shied away from controversy.

As efforts intensified to censure Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) in the wake of ethics violations, King took on his own party and defended the Harlem lawmaker.

Following the assassination attempt of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), King offered legislation prohibiting people from carrying guns within 1,000 feet of members of Congress. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) quickly moved against the gun-control bill.

Earlier in his career, King was an outspoken proponent of the IRA. The Washington Post recently noted that King once said, “The British government is a murder machine.”

The New York Republican has reintroduced legislation that would amend the law to clarify that it is an act of espionage to publish the protected names of American intelligence sources who collaborate with the U.S. military or intelligence community. The new bill was unveiled after WikiLeaks published thousands of pages of sensitive U.S. intelligence.

As the new chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, King this week has scheduled a hearing titled, “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community’s Response.”

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress, is scheduled to testify. He has been critical of the hearing, saying that singling out one community is wrong.

In an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, King said, “Let people watch the hearing and decide then.”

Doubtless, many people will take King up on his invitation and will be watching. The lawmaker, a member of the Intelligence Committee, has been talking about this hearing since the beginning of the 112th Congress.

Holding such a high-profile and controversial hearing is a political risk for the amiable and media-friendly New Yorker. But King has accepted such risks before and can be expected to do so again.