Rep. Peter King (R-NY) on Sunday blasted President Barack Obama for taking a "moral tone" in shaping U.S. counterterrorism policy.
In the first major speech of his second term on Thursday, the president highlighted the need to restrict the use of unnamed drones, close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and eventually end the war on terror.
During an ABC News panel discussion on Sunday, King said he was offended that Obama would change U.S. policy for "moral reasons."
"That's what bothered me about the president's speech, this moral anguish that he was going through," he explained. "Listen, every soldier, every cop who is faced with a decision to make, life or death, does the best he or she can and I think our country has done more than any country in the history of the world to limit civilian casualties so that just offended me, that whole tone of it."
King added that "this policy basically has worked," but there may be ways to "put more emphasis on clandestine activity of actually gathering intelligence rather than relying so much on drones."
"But for me, I don’t think the president really addressed that in the speech. I think he was coming at it from a more from this moral tone which I just think was misplaced. I don’t think it’s called for."
Again on Obama's assertion that Guantanamo should be closed because "that's not who we are," King said he was "offended by the moralizing."
"The fact is whether people agree or disagree over Guantanamo, many experts agree it did work," the New York Republican opined. "It's something that had to be done at the time. And the president's had five years to end this. If he really wanted to, he could have moved most of those prisoners certainly out of the country, he could have sent the back to other countries. He's the one that suspended the detainees going to Yemen."
"I've been to Guantanamo, it's a model prison. Is it ideal? No. But we live in a very un-ideal world. And for him to be saying, what will people think about use 10 to 20 years from now, I would say maybe they felt that we prevented an attack on the homeland for the last 11 and a half to 12 years."
UPDATE: John Amato (flashback to 09/2011)
Rep. Peter King, one of the biggest national security blowhards in Congress, who was widely criticized for holding controversial anti-Muslim hearings, knows a thing or two about supporting terrorists. Yes, he was a huge booster for the IRA.
Long before he became an outspoken voice in Congress about the threat from terrorism, he was a fervent supporter of a terrorist group, the Irish Republican Army. “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,” Mr. King told a pro-I.R.A. rally on Long Island, where he was serving as Nassau County comptroller, in 1982. Three years later he declared, “If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the I.R.A. for it.”
So it was a bit surprising that the British asked him to testify in front of their Parliament:
British Parliament will hold a hearing on the “roots of violent radicalisation” in the Muslim community in that country. The first witness before the committee will be Rep. Peter King (R-NY). King will reportedly be the first member of Congress to ever address a committee of Parliament.
While there is nothing wrong with hosting a hearing examining violent radicalization among British Muslims — just as the British government is probing radicalization among the far-right in Britain — it is a serious error in judgment to invite King. The congressman has been both a vocal supporter of anti-British terrorism in the past and conducted one-sided terror hearings in the U.S. more intended to paint all Muslims with a broad brush than delve into the roots of radicalization.
Peter King was questioned by Labour MP David Winnick about his past support and love for the IRA and was characterized as a terror apologist. He responded by saying he was just trying to put the IRA in its proper context. Huh? That's what he said and that's not what he's been saying in the U.S.
I agree with Charles Pierce that Peter King has lost his right to publicly comment on Obama's speech.
Throughout the 1980's and the 1990's, Peter King was the leading advocate in Congress for those people in America who were financing and helping to arm the Provisional Irish Republican Army during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, where there were soldiers and cops. Peter King was not offended by anyone's tone then. Peter King is a ridiculous man.(And, yes, I know full well that the British policies in Northern Ireland -- many of which we have adopted here, to the resounding applause of people like Peter King -- were abhorrent. I'm just pointing out that, on this topic, Peter King doesn't have the credibility god gave the common sheep.)