He drew comparisons to Joe McCarthy, hunted fugitives in his free time and maintained his grip on one of the most powerful roles in Congress in the post-9/11 world. Now, Rep. Peter King’s time as House Homeland Security chair is coming to an end.The New York congressman will step down from his role on the committee next year because of his party’s term limits. But in the seven years as the top Republican on the committee, he has drawn more than his share of headlines.
King said in an interview with the Long Island Press published last week that he’s proud of his work, especially his hearings focusing on Muslim radicalization “even if they were politically incorrect.” He told the paper that being chairman “was the most rewarding experience of my public life” and said he achieved most of what he wanted to do by focusing the committee on “terrorism — specifically Islamic terrorism because that is the main threat to the country.”
TPM compiled some of King’s most attention-grabbing events of recent years.
Muslim Radicalization Hearings
In December 2010, King announced his intention to hold hearings on the “radicalization” of American Muslims. It sparked criticism as soon as he went public. His decision to appear on a television show produced by an anti-Muslim group shortly before the hearings certainly didn’t help matters. King fought back against the criticism, claiming he wouldn’t allow political correctness to “obscure a real and dangerous threat.” But by the time of King’s first hearing in March 2011, the focus had changed to whether it was a good idea to hold the hearing in the first place.
Ground Zero Mosque Investigation
King called in July 2010 for an investigation into the source of the funding of a mosque set to be built in lower Manhattan, near the site of the World Trade Center attack of Sept. 11, 2001. Earlier that year, he said building a mosque in that location was “very offensive” and wrong but that it could not be stopped because of the First Amendment. No investigation was ever launched.
Too Many Mosques
It wasn’t only the Ground Zero Mosque that King had an issue with — he told Politico in 2007 that there are “too many mosques in this country” in general. King later said he was taken out of context or misspoke. He said he meant to say that “too many mosques in this country do not cooperate with law enforcement.”
King went on a operation to catch fugitives with the U.S. Marshals Service in March and, as TPM first reported, ended up getting into some hot water because of it. The problem was that King brought along a videographer, who ended up filming inside private homes in violation of federal policy. The footage, posted on YouTube by King’s office, caused the Marshals Service to consider banning lawmakers and the media from riding along with deputies in the future. King initially defended the video, saying “everything I did was in full compliance with what the Marshals set out as the proper procedures.”