Rep. Peter King's recommendations on U.S. policyBy Elizabeth Moore
December 31, 2009
Newsday asked Rep. Peter King for 10 ways he would change U.S. policy. Here are his recommendations coupled with a look at the position of the Obama administration.
1. OBAMA SHOULD TOUGHEN HIS LANGUAGE. "Part of his liberal DNA is that he does not want to use the word 'terrorism' unless he absolutely has to. That sends the wrong signal."
Obama administration position: The administration has sought to cool the international dialogue on terrorism, reaching out to Muslim countries and labeling al-Qaida "extremists" who do not represent the mainstream of their faith, but administration officials have used the word "terrorist."
2. SUSPEND THE ORDER TO CLOSE GUANTANAMO. "What they're trying to do is put a square peg in a round hole - they are trying to find countries to accept these detainees. ... Virtually no countries want them."
Obama administration position: As a candidate, Obama pledged to close Guantanamo by the end of 2009, but he has been forced by various factors to postpone the move.
3. DON'T USE CIVILIAN COURTS TO TRY GUANTANAMO DETAINEES. "I would be trying them in military tribunals ... not under the rules of criminal procedure."
Obama administration position: Public protests have followed the Obama administration's decision to try several top 9/11 suspects in federal courts in New York City.
4. HALT CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS OF CIA INTERROGATORS. "That is having such a destabilizing and demoralizing effect in the intelligence community."
Obama administration position: Attorney General Eric Holder launched a criminal investigation of CIA interrogators after the release of a classified report that some had threatened one terror suspect with a gun and a drill, another with rape, and forced another to watch a mock execution.
5. END POLITICAL CORRECTNESS. Excessive concern about anti-Muslim discrimination has hobbled authorities, and prevented them from taking action on disturbing communications by Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan - the Fort Hood killer, King argues.
Obama administration position: A probe of the shooting of 13 soldiers at Fort Hood last month is ongoing, and at his eulogy, Obama never referred to the Muslim beliefs of the Army psychiatrist who opened fire on them. "But this much we do know: No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts," he said.
6. SEND A BIGGER SHARE OF HOMELAND SECURITY MONEY TO NEW YORK. Federal formulas send too much of the money to places where it's not needed, King says.
Obama administration position: Democratic members of New York's Congressional delegation have also complained that the city has received too small a share of homeland security funding relative to smaller, less-threatened states.
7. USE ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS PROFILING OF MUSLIMS. "Odds are, a Scandinavian grandmother is not coming to bomb the U.S."
Obama administration position: Obama made a campaign pledge to ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies, and his Web site currently says he "will work to ensure that federal law enforcement agencies do not resort to" the practice.
8. USE WATER BOARDING. "We did it three or five times and got a lot of information out of Khalid Sheik Mohamed. ... That has saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives."
Obama administration position: Last April, Obama announced that he had banned the practice of water boarding and considered it "torture."
9. ADOPT FULL BODY SCANNING AT AIRPORTS. "There is a brief violation of privacy with the full body scan, but on the other hand, we can save thousands of lives," King said.
Obama administration position: In June, the House - including most of the New York delegation - voted 310 to 118 to bar widespread use of full-body scanning technology that can see through clothing, after it was opposed by civil libertarians as amounting to a strip search.
10. BE MORE SUSPICIOUS. Only 14,000 people are now on the "selectee" list, a subset of the nation's intelligence database that targets travelers for more careful searches at airports. More of the people from the big database should be selected for that level of closer scrutiny, King said.
Obama administration position: The government has kept secret how it decides whom to place on its "selectee" or "no fly" lists.