Monday, June 25, 2012

Inside the 5th King hearing

Lisa Piraneo 9-11-10

Act for America has sent the report of Lisa Piraneo’s observations on the recent Peter King hearing on Radical Islam in America.

JRH 6/25/12

Inside the 5th King hearing

Sent by Guy Rodgers, Executive Director
Report By Lisa Piraneo
Sent: 06/25/2012 11:01 AM

I strongly encourage you to read today’s email. As you do, you will see the importance and the value of having someone of Lisa Piraneo’s character, professionalism, experience and expertise representing us on Capitol Hill.
Guy Rodgers, Executive Director
A Report from the Hill

Round 5: Chairman Peter King Holds Another House Homeland Security Committee Hearing on Muslim Radicalization

by Lisa Piraneo, Director of Government Relations

Last Wednesday, I attended Chairman Peter King’s fifth hearing addressing Islamic radicalization in the United States. This particular discussion was entitled: “The American Muslim Response to Hearings on Radicalization within their Community.” The hearing room was filled to capacity. The witnesses were all Muslims or Muslim-Americans and the hearing was designed to take their pulse on the effectiveness of the Committee’s approach to addressing the problem of Islamic radicalization throughout American communities.

To accompany the hearing, Chairman King released a report entitled, “The Radicalization of Muslim-Americans: The Committee on Homeland Security’s Investigation of the Continuing Threat.” Click
HERE to read the report in its entirety.

In 2010, prior to the start of the 112th Congress, Congressman King promised that if he were to serve as Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, he would place a top priority on understanding and addressing the threat of Muslim radicalization within our nation. The Chairman has proven true to his word – but it hasn’t been an easy road for him.

As Congressman King noted in his opening remarks, from the moment he announced the hearings, he was “attacked by politically correct special interests and their unthinking allies in the media…” He noted that more than 1000 protestors came out in the rain to rally against him in Times Square, just days before the first hearing. Even so, Chairman King stayed the course. Why? Because as he put it, “the necessity of these hearings was obvious – and there should have been bipartisan support.” See Chairman King’s full opening statement

Unfortunately, after almost two years of his Chairmanship, that bipartisan support has yet to materialize. This is disappointing to say the least. As Brigitte Gabriel likes to say, “the threat of radical Islam to our national security is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue, it’s an American issue.”

The witnesses for this particular hearing were all of the Muslim faith:

§  Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, MD, President and Founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, who spoke about the importance of the separation of Mosque and State and noted that “ten years after 9/11 our heroes at the Department of Homeland Security remain occupied predominantly with a highly sophisticated whack-a-mole program…” See HERE for Dr. Jasser’s full testimony.

§  Ms. Asra Nomani speaking as a “Private Citizen,” though she was a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal and a journalist who reported on extremism for the last decade for publications such as the Daily Beast, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time magazine and Washingtonian magazine. She titled her statement, “Toward an Islam of Grace: Owning Up Instead of Being Wound Collectors.” Ms. Nomani told the Committee that “inside much of our Muslim communities, we have departed from our very clear sense of holding ourselves accountable…we are very much a culture of denial, fixated on perceived wounds.” See HERE for Ms. Nomani’s full testimony.

§  Dr. Qanta A. A. Ahmed, a British citizen and Permanent Resident in the United States, currently working with the World Trade Center First Responder patient population in New York. Dr. Ahmed’s fellowship at the University of Cambridge in England was on the “psychological manipulation of Islam into the service of terror.” She spoke of how her family not only has supported Chairman King’s hearings on radicalization, but has welcomed them, even though they “remain aware of the risks” that her participation as a witness “can pose to me in my everyday life.” See HERE for Dr. Ahmed’s full testimony.

§  Ms. Faiza Patel, Co-Director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. Ms. Patel expressed her opposition to the Chairman’s hearing topic as she felt they did not “rest on a firm factual basis.” She elaborated that the hearings “proceed from a premise – which is contrary to empirical evidence – that ‘radicalization’ is prevalent among American Muslims and poses an existential threat to our country. Moreover, they adopt a view of ‘radicalization’ that treats religious belief as a precursor to terrorism.” See HERE for Ms. Patel’s full statement.

Yesterday’s hearing presented yet another wonderful opportunity to understand and address the threat of radical Islam within our nation – this time spoken by those of the Muslim faith. Unfortunately, some members of the Committee used this as an opportunity to sidetrack the discussion, frequently in a way that was rude and disrespectful to the witnesses.

For example, the Committee’s Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-MS), asked witness Dr. Qanta Ahmed if she was a U.S. citizen. When she replied that she was not, he insinuated that because she didn’t have “any kind of security clearance or anything” she wasn’t qualified to speak on the issue. Congressman Dan Lungren (R-CA) responded that he was “kind of bewildered, frankly, by some of the questions and comments by my colleagues – that somehow your testimony isn’t valid because you don’t have a security clearance.” He continued, “The longer I’m here, I guess, the less I’m surprised by what I hear at times.” I think he spoke for many Americans that were watching the hearing from back home.

Congresswoman Laura Richardson (D-CA) belittled some of the panel’s Muslim witnesses by saying, “This Committee – we’re not a talk show, this isn’t Oprah, this isn’t entertainment, this isn’t radio. This is the United States Congress. I would just ask that in the future, if we are going to have a U.S. Congressional hearing…I believe that at least some of the panelists should be people who have the authority, who receive the regular information to give us the most accurate and helpful information as possible.” I found it amazing that after almost 6 years serving her constituents in California’s 37th congressional district, Congresswoman Richardson apparently believes hearing from a regular U.S. citizen was beneath her and her colleagues.

As a final detailed example, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) reminded those in the committee room of the Japanese internment camps, warning the Muslim witnesses who supported examining the Muslim religion when attempting to understand the Islamist threat, “be careful what you wish for. Our nation has a history that we don’t like to connect often times, but be careful what you wish for in America.”

I was impressed with Dr. Ahmed’s response to Congresswoman Clarke: “Having these hearings is not going to lead to the internment of Muslim-Americans. It is exactly the lack of that kind of nuance which I draw to your attention respectfully, madam, that can damage the outcome of what is something that can be so positive. It’s the lack of nuance in our academic community, our politics and our media that’s missing.”

You can see for yourself how the different committee members handled themselves by viewing the archived video of the entire hearing
HERE. If you missed today’s hearing (and especially if one of your Representatives sits on the Committee), I encourage you to watch it in its entirety so you can be informed about how your legislators are addressing the issue of Islamic radicalization.

We are approaching the final months of the 112th Congress, and a very important election cycle is upon us. I don’t know if Chairman King plans to hold any more hearings on Islamic radicalization during this term. What I do know, however, is that we should be tremendously thankful to him for his efforts to increase the visibility, and maintain the discussion, of the Islamist threat in America -- and for his unrelenting work to protect our nation by finding a solution to that threat. That is one reason he will be awarded the 2012 National Security Eagle Award (our top honor) at our National Conference in Washington, DC next week.

As the Chairman stated during yesterday’s discussion, “to somehow deny that there is any correlation between certain people of the Muslim faith and the greatest terrorist threat facing this country today just defies credulity…it just does not add up at all.”

ACT! for America’s 235,000 grassroots members thank you, Chairman King, for all that you do on behalf of our national security.
ACT for America is an issues advocacy organization dedicated to effectively organizing and mobilizing the most powerful grassroots citizen action network in America, a grassroots network committed to informed and coordinated civic action that will lead to public policies that promote America’s national security and the defense of American democratic values against the assault of radical Islam. We are only as strong as our supporters, and your volunteer and financial support is essential to our success. Thank you for helping us make America safer and more secure.

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