iOS app Android app

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Len Levitt

Len Levitt

Posted: March 15, 2011 10:29 AM

Congressman King: The Yahoo Has a Point


Read this post on NYPD Confidential.

Long Island Congressman Peter King can be a wild and crazy guy.

The big-mouth Republican has fallen in love with the IRA, championed losers and picked sorry political friends.

He sounded semi-hysterical when he defended Bernie Kerik after a federal judge tossed the former police commissioner into the slammer for four years, calling Kerik's sentence "an absolute disgrace."

Forget that Kerik had pleaded guilty to eight felonies, including tax fraud and lying to the White House while being vetted for the job of Director of Homeland Security.

Rather, King saw Kerik's prison sentence as political correctness run amok. "If Bernie Kerik were more politically correct, or if Bernie Kerik didn't come from such a rough upbringing... we'd have editorials all over the country denouncing what happened," King told Geraldo Rivera on Fox News.

"Kerik got too big for some people who don't go for his type of person: a tough guy, an honest guy, a guy who fights for the people. He didn't come from the socially elite crowd... If there were any fairness in this matter, Bernie Kerik should be getting medals."

Last September, King protested against the proposed Lower Manhattan mosque, standing beside his Staten Island buddy, former Congressman Vito Fossella. Fossella? He's the guy who secretly kept a second family in Washington D.C. (in addition to his wife and three children in S.I.). Despite this, Congressman King pushed him for re-election.

Okay, the King of the Yahoos may have his quirks but there is nothing far-fetched about Islamic extremism or the threat of Muslims being radicalized in this country.

Maybe only a wild and crazy congressman would hold hearings on this subject, one so sensitive that King has been verbally stoned for daring to raise it.

King has charged that no fewer than 80 percent of mosque leaders are extremists and that law enforcement officials have received little or no help from Muslim leaders and imams in fighting homegrown terrorism.

The New York Times attacked King for, among other things, focusing his hearings solely on Muslims and not including "violent radicalism in America among a wide variety of groups."

Earth to the Times: Faisal Shahzad, who planted a car bomb at Times Square; Najibullah Zazi, who sought to detonate bombs in the city's subways; and Major Nidal Hasan, an army psychiatrist who while shouting "Allahu Akbar" shot and killed 13 people and wounded 43 others at Fort Hood didn't belong to a wide variety of groups.

And while the Times accurately pointed out that King offered no "evidence to support his assertion that 'law enforcement officials throughout the country told me they received little or -- in most cases -- no cooperation from Muslim leaders and imams,'" this is precisely what law enforcement officials in this neck of the woods do believe -- although few, if any, will say so aloud.

Especially if they are considering a run for mayor or seeking to become the director of the FBI.

Perhaps that's why King didn't bring his friends, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence David Cohen, to testify, although both appear to share King's views about the dangers of homegrown terrorism.

Explained King's spokesman Brian Fogarty in an email: "While Congressman King talks regularly with Commissioner Kelly and Deputy Commissioner Cohen, neither one was asked to testify. We wanted people in the Muslim community to testify about their experiences being intimidated by their local mosques and Muslim leaders to not cooperate with local and federal law enforcement."

Granted, no Muslim (or anyone else) in his right mind should ever come forward to the FBI without an attorney. Recall Richard Jewell, the security guard who alerted authorities to a pipe bomb at the site of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and helped evacuate the area before the bomb exploded, killing two people and injuring 111? The FBI then leaked his name as the suspected bomber. Two years later, the Bureau charged anti-abortion activist Eric Rudolph with the bombing, but Jewell's life was already ruined. He died in 2007 of natural causes at age 44.

Still, one would hope that the threat of terrorism would trump the hazards of working with the feds.

King has promised more hearings. But instead of focusing on Muslim leaders, Your Humble Servant would urge him to focus on the terrorism-related shortcomings of the U.S. government: specifically, the failure to probe the facts behind the most serious terrorism cases.

Take Major Hasan. How did the army fail to realize that Hasan was not only a nutcase but a Muslim extremist nutcase? How could the report the army issued on the killings not probe his motivation?

According to Time magazine, former Army Secretary Togo West, one of report's two co-authors, said: "Our concern is with actions and effects, not necessarily with motivations." Added co-author, former Admiral Vernon Clark: "We certainly do not cite a particular group."

Or take the would-be subway bomber, Najibullah Zazi. Commissioner Kelly and Deputy Commissioner Cohen have never been called to account for their mischievously dangerous interference in that case.

The FBI had tracked Zazi from Colorado to New York, where with three high school classmates from Queens he planned to place bombs in the city's subways.

But the NYPD, which was supposedly cooperating with the FBI, secretly reached out to its own informant, who tipped off Zazi, inadvertently sabotaging the Bureau's investigation.

To this date, no government official or agency has publicly asked Kelly and/or Cohen why they never informed the FBI, their supposed partner, about their bizarre move, which violated both investigative protocol and common sense.

Even President Obama has played deaf, dumb and blind, calling Kelly at Police Plaza House three months later to congratulate him on Zazi's capture.

And now there's a move afoot to make him the new FBI director!

A final taboo that King seems willing to tackle is the role of our strategic ally, Saudi Arabia, in fomenting terrorism.

King's spokesman also emailed a copy of a 2003 speech by Stephen Schwartz, Senior Fellow of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Schwartz described the Wahhabi ideological structure in Saudi Arabia, saying that it had gained "extraordinary influence over an Islamic community in the West... to influence U.S. government and media."

Readers, remember that in the days after the 9/11 attack -- in which virtually all the perpetrators were of Saudi origin -- the Saudi ambassador Prince Bandar persuaded high-level figures in the Bush administration to allow a planeload of Saudis to leave this country without being questioned by the FBI.

Why did that happen? How was that allowed to happen? That, too, has never been explained to the American people.

A DUMP NOT A BUMP?
A reader writes the following about Captain Ronald Haas's transfer from the commanding officer of the Manhattan's DA's squad to Detective Borough Manhattan. "Being transferred from a Command (Manhattan District Attorney's Office), where most everyone gets promoted to D.I., to a Zone Captain in Detective Borough Manhattan, where it is a crapshoot regarding promotion, is a downward transfer. Manhattan District Attorney's Office is Mon to Fri day tours in the # one District Attorney's Office in the United States if not the world. A take home car, private office and much more. Zone Captain, while a decent assignment, is another world when it comes to working conditions and perks.
C.O. of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office answers to three people: the PC, Chief of D and the DA. Zone Captains have a long chain of command and little control of their daily tours and assignments within the Detective Bureau. You had it right the first time."