Rep. Peter King's Witness: ACLU Is "Al Qaeda's Civil Liberties Union"

July 25, 2011 5:35 pm ET — Walid Zafar

On Wednesday, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and the House Homeland Security Committee will conduct the third in a series of hearings on the "radicalization" of American Muslims. Unlike the initial hearing, which cast suspicion on all American Muslims, Wednesday's event will focus on a particular issue: the efforts of Somalia-based terror group al-Shabaab to recruit Americans to fight in the Horn of Africa.

King will call forward Ahmed Hussen, a Canadian-based Somali community activist, William Anders Folk, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, and Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies. For the most part, these witnesses, like those at King's second hearing on radicalization within U.S. prisons, aren't like some of the ideologically-driven witnesses at King's first hearing. But as Brian Tashman points out at Right Wing Watch, Joscelyn is not without some controversy.

Writing in the Weekly Standard in late 2009, Joscelyn accused the American Civil Liberties Union — the nation's preeminent civil rights organization — of working "diligently to undermine America's stance in what was formerly known as the 'war on terror'" and said the group was "willing to disseminate propaganda on behalf of our jihadist enemies." Joscelyn went on to say that an informational video the ACLU had created to highlight the fact that many detainees at the detention facility Guantanamo Bay aren't getting their day in court "could very well have produced" by "al Qaeda's media arm." The piece is disgustingly titled "Al Qaeda's Civil Liberties Union."

In the piece, Joscelyn concluded:

But the ACLU cannot tell the difference between us and our enemies--as its own propaganda shows.

Therefore, it does not bode well for America's counterterrorism efforts that the Obama administration is in agreement with al Qaeda's useful idiots.

Joscelyn's attack on the American legal tradition is not unique. In 2010, some voices on the right, including Liz Cheney, started attacking Justice Department lawyers for having previously represented detainees. Cheney's group, Keep America Safe, dubbed the lawyers the "Al Qaeda Seven." Interestingly enough, Bill Kristol, the war-happy editor of the Weekly Standard, sits on the board of Cheney's group. Joscelyn jumped on that campaign and wrote, in the Weekly Standard yet again, that the lawyers working on behalf of detainees had "openly opposed the American government for years, on behalf of al Qaeda terrorists, and their objections frequently went beyond rational, principled criticisms of detainee policy."

King has the ability to call forward almost any expert in the country yet has decided to give a spot to someone who compares the ACLU to al Qaeda. What might explain this? We know for a fact that King has been criticized by prominent Muslim-baiting writers on the right for not inviting some of the more virulent voices in the movement to his hearings. And King is certainly smart enough to realize that the inclusion of outright bigots would undermine his efforts. At the same time, King also relies on these sorts of people for much of his research and talking points on the issue, including his oft-repeated claim that "80 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by radical imams."

So Joscelyn, who isn't so much anti-Muslim as he is anti-"Al Qaeda's Civil Liberties Union," might be some sort of concession witness to assure King's close friends in the anti-Muslim cause that while he can't openly associate with them, he's still very much one of their top allies in Congress.

[h/t: Right Wing Watch]