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Posted at 1:00 PM ET, 03/10/2011

CAIR comes under fire during Peter King hearings on radical Islam

By Felicia Sonmez and Michelle Boorstein

As the hearing stretched into its third hour, one of the few outbursts from the room came as Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) criticized the event as "grossly incomplete."

"We are seeing a very skewed discussion. While I think these anecdotes are interesting, I don't believe these are experts," Speier said. A low wave of boos and hisses came from the room. Speier slammed the hearing for its lack of any law enforcement officials or representatives from the FBI or the Homeland Security Department -- except for Los Angeles Sheriff Leroy Baca, called by the ranking Democrats.

She said that in addition to investigating Islamic radicalism, the committee might as well be investigating the Army of God, a Christian terrorist organization. She also drew a parallel between the witnesses on the panel and her own experience as a practicing Roman Catholic.

"I'm no more prepared to speak about the pedophilia in the Catholic church because I am a practicing Roman Catholic," Speier said. "And I think we do need to have experts come here to speak on homegrown terrorism in this country."

"I'm not sure who else you'd like to solve this problem, but I think it's only Muslims that can do it," responded Zuhdi Jasser, the Muslim doctor who runs a small nonprofit group. Jasser emphasized the importance of the "intellectual lay community" in bringing about change throughout history, including in reforming the Church of England.

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) also criticized the hearing as "theater" and the congressional equivalent of "reality TV." She said she was "appalled" by the idea that "we have not gotten to a substantive conversation about how we define terrorism, how we define the whole idea of radicalization."

Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.), a freshman, said that unlike Speier, he believed that those on the panel were experts and commended them for their "courage" and "conviction."

At one point, Jasser was asked what he hoped the hearing might accomplish. "I hope we see this as the beginning of a dialogue," Jasser said. "We have to realize that there are many Islams out there." He added that he hoped the gathering was a "pivot point" to "not allow just the revivalists to get the microphone but the reformists."

Melvin Bledsoe, whose son converted to Islam and became a radical in Yemen, said that he believed lawmakers on the panel were driven by "political fear, perhaps not getting re-elected or something."

"This is real," he said. "If you don't ignore that we have a problem, then you're inviting the problem to come again."

The crowd seemed to gain energy -- 3 1/2 hours into the hearing -- when the subject turned to the legitimacy of groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Cravaack repeated allegations constant in the conservative blogosphere that the advocacy group is governed by terrorist organizations collaborating with outlawed groups like Hamas.

"Basically, you're dealing with a terrorist organization. They might be using you, sir, to implement their goals," Cravaack told Baca, who represents the largest sheriff's department in the country.

Baca, who has been outspoken in recent weeks about his strong collaboration with Muslim American organizations, triggered something like a group gasp when he said, "If the FBI has any charges against CAIR, let the FBI bring them. You have facts, and you have a crime. Deal with it. We don't play around with criminals in my world. If CAIR is a 'criminal organization,' prosecute them and bring them to trial."

CAIR was used as a lightning rod during the hearing, sort of a proxy for the often cited but unnamed "Muslim organizations" that King and several of his witnesses said were the problem and were encouraging innocent, patriotic Muslim Americans not to work with law enforcement.

Baca added that "you don't want to cause a conflict between me and the FBI. We work together better than perhaps this committee works together."

"That would be an understatement at this point," Cravaack replied, to laughter from the hearing room.

King chimed in a few moments later to note that he believed the committee usually worked well together.

Full coverage of the Peter King hearings

More coverage from PostPolitics:
- Interactive: Highlights from the King hearing
- How should we talk about Islam in America?
- Fact Checker: King's misleading claim on radical imams
- Full coverage from the Post's On Faith
- The King hearings: The witness list
- King's past views on IRA draw ire
- King takes to CNN show to defend hearings
- Japanese Americans: Radical Islam hearings 'sinister'
- Cantor defends King hearings on radical Islam
- Crowds rally in NYC on the weekend before the King hearings
- White House praises Muslims ahead of hearings

By Felicia Sonmez and Michelle Boorstein  | March 10, 2011; 1:00 PM ET
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Next: The Peter King hearings on radical Islam (live blog)


Peter King is a scared, paranoid individual who paints "our opponents" as terroristic threats.

What a sad, sad excuse for a public servant.

Posted by: bs2004 | March 10, 2011 3:10 PM | Report abuse

During the Thirties, few Americans were troubled by the rise of National Socialism in Germany. At the same time in Great Britain, Winston Churchill was being criticized for pointing out this threat.

Nothing new here. I guess we will see. Let us just hope that no more planes accidentally crash into buildings.

Posted by: CubsFan | March 10, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Modern TERRORISM was invented by this video:

Peter King is an ugly faced racist. Too many lies over the course of his life issued from his frontal-lobes in his brain and then straining facial muscles to hide them has put those ugly features on his face. Bush crime family and Cheney and NEOCON ZIONISTS have the same although Bush had to get the subtle BOTOX job.


FBI racists have killed many innocent people and paid FINES totalling 5.3 million to Steven Hatfill only because he was white, but got away with crimes to other non-white non-jew innocents.

There was no indictment and punishment of criminals in Abu Gharaib or other torture cells of the Criminal CIA who have cases against their crimes in Italy.

Baca was scared to say that Rapist Roman Polansky who terrorised and raped a 13y old girl lives freely and is NOT A MUSLIM.

American Media and OFFICIALS makes white lies - as proven on its stance on double murderer Raymond Davis - CIA operative caught RED HANDED in Pakistan for recruiting terrorists and planning to give them NUCLEAR material as reported by EUROPEAN TIMES and Russian Intelligence.

Almost everyone with high IQ knows that 911 is inside job.

Posted by: BuildingSeven | March 10, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Peter King has any morality or SHAME?
King himself is a long-time supporter of the IRA, and in the 1980s proclaimed: "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." On what ground he can say that extremism of others are sinful but not his or HIS OWN GOONS?

Posted by: citysoilverizonnet | March 10, 2011 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Peter King himself is supporter of IRA (Irish Republican Army) and MUK (Mujahedeen e Khalq) terrorists against innocent people of Iran blowing up mosques, and innocent people. He is therefore an ODIOUS terrorist himself but actually a BIGOT !!!

Posted by: BuildingSeven | March 10, 2011 10:57 PM | Report abuse


I'm no reporter myself but I'd have thought that King and his colleagues' throwing down the gauntlet at CAIR's feet like this would send any red-blooded journalist scrambling to investigate. IS the group sprung from the loins of the Muslim Brotherhood? HAVE a number of their leaders been convicted of terror offenses?

And what ABOUT this "unindicted co-conspirator" allegation? Baca's surly righteous indignation was nice theater but one doesn't have to be in law enforcement to understand the concept and to appreciate that there could be all sorts of reasons why co-conspirators aren't prosecuted, especially in this realm where there are security and political secrets and sensitivites galore. Baca should have expressed at least some interest in the circumstances. Don't you find his apparent disinterest itself a bit interesting?

Anyways, this is a big story, Felicia. You should jump at the chance to follow it up. Either King et al are liars or grossly misinformed, disparaging the reputation of the most prominent Muslim advocacy group in America, in which case, they should be categorically exposed as such with all the evidence, all of it. Or they're right, in which case, CAIR deserves the same treatment.

Don't you agree?


Jim Heller

Posted by: jimheller | March 11, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

We are seeing a very skewed discussion. While I think these anecdotes are interesting, I don't believe these are experts," Speier said

since when do you have to be an expert to know that there are people trying to kill you??? we do understand the news, we also know that it's not every muslim is a radical hellbent on killing innocent people, but there is a legitimate threat that needs to be addressed.

Posted by: greenstheman | March 11, 2011 5:29 PM | Report abuse

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