One of two Muslims members of Congress warned that increased surveillance of mosques could turn into “the disaster that J. Edgar Hoover’s counterintelligence program was.”
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told CNN on Monday that “people in the Muslim community should want this type of surveillance.”
“If you’re looking for the Klan, you don’t go to Harlem, you go where the threat is coming from,” King said, defending his call for mosque surveillance.
But Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, noted that while he considers King to be his friend he “absolutely, emphatically” disagrees with the New York congressman.
“This is not correct,” Carson told CNN, adding he supports the Obama administration’s countering violent extremism strategy, “where there is an attempt to work with faith leaders across the spectrum, to work with mental health professionals, to work with educators, and to work with congregants in terms of gaining a greater understanding, not only of their surroundings, but of pushing back on extremist influences and to eliminate those who are becoming self-radicalized.”
Carson said it’s “difficult” to pinpoint the reason behind polling that shows 51 percent of Americans not confident that the government can stop a terrorist attack.
“On one end, you have leaders of many nations who demonize America in public and behind closed doors they are asking for our help. I think, in many ways, our motives have been impugned or questioned as it relates to our presence there and our motivation behind their natural resources,” the congressman said. “But it is clear that our military and intelligence efforts have clearly helped. They have helped with training purposes and they have helped to neutralize many extremist threats.”
“The larger question becomes, as the U.S., Russia and Europe, as we debate over what must happen to bring forth a democratic Syria, it’s very clear that our combined efforts have helped to decimate the ISIL threat.”
The Intelligence Committee member said he’s “not at liberty” to discuss potential threats over the New Year’s holiday.
“What I will say is that American citizens should be ever cautious during the holiday season and especially at large gatherings, being aware of surroundings and listening to alerts from the Department of Homeland Security and even local law enforcement,” Carson said, noting that canceling celebrations “would be playing into the hands of those who wish to do us harm.”