Satire. Or not.
“Let’s not be politically correct,” the congressman told surprised agents. “I have a long history as a material supporter of terrorism. Someone needs to keep a closer eye on me.”
He admitted having complained about what the United Kingdom called enemy combatants being denied bail or fair and speedy trials in civilian courts. “I don’t know what I was thinking. Of course, the British should have been court-martialling the IRA,” he admits.
“Plus, those limeys were way too reserved and polite. They should have had an MI6 guy in every bar in certain neighborhoods. People were passing around the hat to buy stingers for the boys. I was passing around the hat myself.”
“They should have had a couple of MI6 guys in my office. Saps.”
King said that people with red hair and freckles ought to have been detained immediately on arrival at Heathrow, and that bullying the “ginger” was perfectly justified. “They blew up car bombs in London, for Chrissake,” he said. “There’s something wrong with my people.”
Asked whether he now disagreed with his earlier argument that colonial occupation and oppression justifies standing up for a people’s rights, violently if necessary, King replied “It depends on the people. Irish, of course. But A-rabs need to be kept down.”
Asked whether Arab leaders such as Muammar Gaddafi and Yasser Arafat had not supplied arms and training to the IRA, King just scowled.
He ended the news conference with a heartfelt plea. “Really, I’m out of control. Someone needs to put me under close surveillance. I’m for terrorism but against terrorism, it just depends. But wouldn’t that be a danger signal? Wouldn’t the British government contact the FBI about me just like the Russians told them about the Tsarnaevs? I mean, nowadays I’m directing my love of hurting people toward the Muslim-Americans. But you can never tell. An Englishman might cross me, and boom! Car bomb up the kazoo.”
“I’m turning over to the FBI this big file of incriminating evidence on myself.”
“Back in the 1980s, I admitted to being a supporter of the Irish Republican Army. By that time, it had assassinated Lord Mountbatten, killed Airey Neve by car bomb outside Westminster, killed 18 British soldiers at the Warrenpoint ambush, bombed the Wimpy Bar on Oxford Street, killing Kenneth Howorth, committed he Hyde Park and Regents Park bombings in London, killing eleven British troops; bombed Harrods Department store, killing 6 people, including one American and wounding 90 (including another American) during Christmas shopping. Just a year later, the IRA, which I supported, tried to kill British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, killing 5 others and injuring more. I once 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.”
“In 1983 I complained bitterly about suspected IRA terrorists being held for 7 days with no contact with lawyers, about them having no bail set and having to wait as much as 2 years to be tried, and about the use of informers to convict them:”
“The New York Times, November 20, 1983, Sunday, Late City Final Edition, KING PRESSES CASE ON IRISH ISSUE, BYLINE: By FRANK LYNN, SECTION: Section 11LI; Page 16, Column 5; Long Island Weekly Desk
Nassau County’s Comptroller, Peter T. King, a 39-year-old Republican, has been deeply concerned about the Northern Ireland controversy and, at the moment, is probably the most active New York politician on an issue that even most Irish or American politicians tend to steer clear of . . . Indeed, Mr. King is one of several Irish-Americans being considered for grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day parade next year, the post that became controversial last March with the designation of Michael Flannery, an Irish Republican Army supporter, to lead the parade. Mr. King is also a supporter of the I.R.A., but he says he sees the most immediate issue in Northern Ireland today as a question of civil rights for Northern Irish Catholics and human rights for I.R.A. prisoners and defendants and their families. Mr. King, a grandson of Irish immigrants, said that he had been interested in the Northern Ireland question for many years but that he became more active since being elected Comptroller. ”I felt,” he said, ”I’d be in a position to do something as a public official; it carries more weight.” Mr. King said he has been told that Nassau Republican polls indicated that his popularity has been somewhat diminished by his outspoken position.. .
Popular or not, he recently returned from still another visit to strife-torn Northern Ireland – this time to monitor two trials at which I.R.A. informers were acting as witnesses against their former colleagues. Mr. King, a lawyer, has written a report of what he contends are unjust trials that ”would never be tolerated in the United States or England.”
The Comptroller said that defendants were being convicted on the uncorroborated testimony of informers;
that there were no jury trials for accused I.R.A. members;
that defendants, even in noncapital cases, were denied bail and waited trial for as long as two years;
that I.R.A. suspects could be held and questioned for up to seven days without being able to contact lawyers or family;
that trial spectators were not allowed to take notes and were required to give their names and addresses, a practice that Mr. King said was ”inherently intimidating,”
and that defendants could not request changes of venue or changes of judges on the ground of prejudice.
Mr. King said that beyond the trials, relatives visiting I.R.A. prisoners had to wait outside the prison for up to an hour where, he said, ”they are subjected to public ridicule.”
I wanted the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Belfast disbanded. I got Unionists hot under the collar and one remembered how in 1985 I had lauded the IRA’s mortaring of the Newry police station.
“Belfast News Letter (Northern Ireland) July 9, 1999, Friday KING UNDER FIRE FOR ATTACK ON RUC SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 15 CONTROVERSIAL US Congressman Peter King came under fire yesterday after he called for the RUC [Royal Ulster Constabulary] to be scrapped. He was in Belfast with a cross-party group to deliver a congressional hearing report to the Patten Commission on policing reform. “I believe that the abuses and breakdowns are so systematic that reform alone is not going to be enough to address the underlying inequalities,” he declared. “I believe the force should be abolished. “As far as the nationalist community is concerned, it is very difficult for them to have any faith in some sort of partial reform.” Ulster Unionist security spokesman Ken Maginnis rounded on Mr King, saying it was surprising that anyone should take him seriously. “His partisan and bigoted attitude to unionists has, throughout the many years of violence, consistently encouraged and sustained the worst elements of militant republicanism,” the MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone protested. “He is best remembered for his endorsement of the IRA’s mortaring of Newry police station in 1985 when nine policemen and women were murdered.” Police Federation chairman Les Rodgers also hit out. “These people have made no effort to respond to our open invitation to meet RUC officers or their families,” he said. “Their only concern is for the Irish-American vote. They have little to contribute which is either objective or useful to the future of policing.” Mr King said that “every opportunity” had been given to the RUC to testify at the April hearing, but it did not respond.”
1997: “Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) implied that I was a terrorism supporter by trying to get the IRA listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization because its activities had made the US embassy in London a potential target; I called him ‘an ignorant bigot.’”
Daily News (New York) October 22, 1997, Wednesday HELMS HITS BILL ON IRA, THEN GETS CALLED BIGOT BYLINE: By RICHARD SISK Daily News Washington Bureau SECTION: News; Pg. 18 WASHINGTON Sen. Jesse Helms trashed President Clinton for going too easy on Sinn Fein, prompting a New York supporter of the IRA’s political wing to call Helms “an ignorant bigot.” In a letter yesterday to Clinton, Helms (R-N.C.) accused the President of kowtowing to the ballot muscle of Irish-Americans in refusing to slap the terrorist label on the Irish Republican Army and Sinn Fein. “We must not coddle these people, no matter how strong their domestic political constituency,” Helms said. Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.) was furious at what he considered Helms’ meddling in delicate peace talks under way in Belfast, with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams at the table following the IRA’s ceasefire renewal in July. “He’s showing that he’s really an ignorant bigot,” King said of Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. King noted Helms’ friendship with the Rev. Ian Paisley, the fiery Northern Ireland loyalist and head of the Democratic Unionist Party, who refuses to bargain with Adams. “Jesse Helms is doing Ian Paisley’s dirty work, trying to hurt the peace negotiations,” King said. In his letter, Helms said he was reacting to the State Department’s Oct. 8 publication of a list naming 30 groups mostly from the Mideast as terrorists. American contributors to the groups were warned that they could face 10-year jail terms. Senior administration officials said Sinn Fein and the IRA were left off the list after “considerable discussion.” The White House referred questions on the Helms letter to the State Department, where a spokesman said a close watch was being kept on the IRA and Sinn Fein, and they could be added to the list if there were a ceasefire violation. Helms said that on the day the list was published, his committee got a cable from the U.S. Embassy in Great Britain warning, “London is currently considered a medium threat post,” partly because of potential IRA violence. “I hope, Mr. President, that you agree that any organization that poses a threat to U.S. diplomats and citizens abroad is by definition a terrorist organization,” Helms wrote. British Embassy spokesman Robert Chatterton Dickson said his government backs the U.S. position on Sinn Fein and the IRA, adding that “we’re obviously pleased” at Clinton’s warning that Adams will be booted from the talks if the IRA breaks the truce.”
Then there was the time that I supported keeping on US soil six men who had served sentences in Britain for “terrorist activity” and opposed their deportation to the UK.
“Daily News (New York) September 10, 1997, Wednesday RENO DOES ABOUT-FACE: IRA MEMBERS CAN STAY BYLINE: By RICHARD SISK Daily News Washington Bureau SECTION: News; Pg. 12 WASHINGTON Attorney General Janet Reno reversed course yesterday and dropped efforts to deport six Irish Republican Army supporters in a move to bolster peace talks in Northern Ireland. In a statement, Reno said she was acting at the request of Secretary of State Albright to “contribute to the peace process” by ending deportation proceedings against the six including Brian Pearson, now living in Rockland County, and Robert McErlean and Gabriel Megahey of Queens. All six had served sentences in Northern Ireland and Britain for “terrorist activity”on behalf of the IRA, but said they were political prisoners who feared persecution if returned to Belfast. Reno had previously argued for deportation on the ground that the six failed to list their convictions on visa requests that permitted them to enter the U.S., obtain jobs and marry American citizens or green-card holders. The White House pressed Reno to drop the cases in a bid to aid the talks in Belfast in which the release of loyalist and IRA prisoners are a key issue. Reno said her action should not be considered “an approval of any acts of terrorism in which these individuals may have been involved.” Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.) called Reno’s action a “dramatic, confidence-building measure,” and Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-Middletown) thanked President Clinton. The others permitted to stay in the U.S. are Noel Gaynor, Matthew Morrison and Gerald McDade.”
1998: I hoped murders were done by ‘group within IRA,’ not ordered by Army Council (but mind you, I wouldn’t accept the argument that most rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza have not been ordered by the Hamas governing council!)
“Daily News (New York) February 13, 1998, Friday IRA-SLAY LINK UNDERMINES PEACE TALKS BYLINE: By RICHARD SISK Daily News Washington Bureau SECTION: News; Pg. 36 LENGTH: 373 words WASHINGTON Northern Ireland’s fragile peace process neared total breakdown yesterday as Britain concluded that the Irish Republican Army was behind two killings this week. Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.) said Mo Mowlam, the British minister for Northern Ireland, told him that her government had evidence “beyond doubt that there was IRA involvement” in the renewed violence. King, a leading congressional supporter of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, said he feared that the IRA-allied party could be ousted from the struggling peace talks when they resume Monday in Dublin. Adams’ expulsion “would be tragic,” King said, since it could lead the IRA to cancel the ceasefire declared last summer and dash hopes for progress in the talks chaired by former Sen. George Mitchell. In convening the talks last year, Mitchell required participants to take a pledge of nonviolence. “This looks very bad for Sinn Fein,” King said after speaking with Mowlam, who worked hard to bring Adams into the process. “I’m still hopeful it can be shown that this was possibly a group within the IRA” that was responsible for the killings, King said, “and it was not sanctioned by the [IRA's governing] Army Council.”
Note: I am sympathetic with the plight of Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland and don’t mean this posting to suggest otherwise. I favor an option for peace and condemn the tactic of terrorism, but also think the UK was foolish to refuse to negotiate with Sinn Fein. The posting is about the hypocrisy of one IRA supporter.