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March Madness

McCarthy/HUAC Alive and Well on LI?

Earlier this week I received a copy of Rep. Peter King’s March 2012 “Special Report from Washington”. 

The front page features articles involving Rep. King’s hearings on Islamic radicalization in the US military and the Seaford congressman's call to investigate the leaking of sensitive or classified data to a Hollywood company producing a film on the killing of Osama bin Laden.  All I could think of was Sen. Joe McCarthy and HUAC (not to mention the waste of money).

 For those of you who are too young to remember or are not students of American history I would urge you to look into what became known as McCarthyism. Starting in 1950, when McCarthy claimed having a list of 205 “known Communists” working for the State Department until his ultimate denouement in the now [in]famous Army - McCarthy hearings in 1954, Sen. McCarthy, and for years prior thereto his counterparts on the House un-American Activities Committee (aka “HUAC”) trampled on the constitutional rights of hundreds of Americans and institutions based upon no more than mere allegations of disloyalty.  Does anyone see a slippery slope here?

McCarthy was finally brought low by iconic TV journalist Edward R. Morrow who in a comment concluding one of his shows about McCarthy stated in part “We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law”. Another scholar once said something to the effect that those who do not heed the lessons of history are condemned to repeat its mistakes. Perhaps Rep. King should read some history in lieu of writing semi autobiographical novels.

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Chris Wendt April 11, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Too much of stretch for your analogy to work. McCarthy ruined the reputations, careers, lives of people he investigated. Can you name even one person who has met with the same result from Peter King's hearings? Are you suggesting that Congress should simply ignore breaches of security over classified military information leaked to anyone without a lawful need to know or possess such information? To be sure, the focus of that investigation would be the internal checks and procedures that are designed to preclude leaks of classified military information, along with the likely military or other government employee(s) who perpetrated the crime and leaked the information.
EJ48 April 11, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Both McCarthy and HUAC featured a particularly insidious form of defamation, guilt by association, which in today’s parlance might be analogized to “collateral damage” of the kind visited upon innocent Afghan villagers as we chase suspected Taliban. King’s hearings, both last year’s and the current version are focused on Muslims. I merely call attention to the possibility that these hearings, which to my knowledge have yet to turn up anything of substance, may have the unfortunate effect of defaming all Muslims. If there is something serious to be investigated the hearings should go ahead full throttle and should be a matter of national priority. As the hearings appear to be a once in a while proposition I can only suspect that they are another one of King’s publicity stunts, albeit a potentially dangerous one to a segment of the general populace. I am again grateful that he is no longer my congressman.
Chris Wendt April 11, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I think fairness requires a more objective characterization of the radicalization and security breach hearings, other than as "publicity stunts". You are entitled to your opinion, as am I to strenuously disagree, here. I do not think that holding Congressional hearings rises to the level of, or meets any legal standard of libel or defamation. I doubt very much that it is even possible to "defame" an entire religion or all of its adherents. Your being "grateful" that Pete King will not represent our new Congressional District is not much different than my expounding bliss over the fact that Nancy Pelosi has never represented our district, old one or new one. Irrelevant, as both of these people are still in Congress, as duly elected Represenatives of our country,

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