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CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Transcript

Interview

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BALDWIN: So, as you just heard, a lot of talk today through these hearings and also some talk as to whether or not the hearings should even be held.

But I want to take you now live to Capitol Hill, where Congressman Peter King himself from New York good enough to join me.

He is the Republican chair of the Homeland Security Committee and called for the hearing on Muslim radicalization today.

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate you joining me.

KING: Brooke, you're very welcome. Thank you.

BALDWIN: It's been a busy day for you. I appreciate you coming on.

KING: You're welcome.

BALDWIN: And your hearing wrapped up just a little while ago. What was your first initial reaction upon walking out of there?

KING: That the hearing went very well, that we got the message out. And I give incredible credit to the courage of the witnesses who came forward.

I thought it was a very, very educational hearing. The other side -- the thought that was right behind that was I think how hysterical the reaction has been over the last two weeks in anticipation of the hearing, and how wrong those people were.

BALDWIN: Well, I know that you really wanted the Muslim congressman, the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison there today. And he was there. And he said the hearings were scapegoating at its worst. And I also want you to listen to something your colleague on the Homeland Security Committee said. Let's listen to this together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMPSON: I cannot help but wonder how propaganda about this hearing -- focuses on American Muslim community -- will be used by those who seek to inspire a new generation of suicide bombers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Congressman King, are you at all concerned that some of the contents of today's hearings could be twisted into propaganda?

KING: First of all, I think, in a democracy, we have to bring the facts out. We can't be afraid of the enemy. We can't think that if, somehow, we don't offend al Qaeda, that al Qaeda is not going to attack us.

But, more than that, I would say the only reason there was any hysteria, the only reason there's any chance for any propaganda to come out of the hearing is really the horrible things that were said in the previous two weeks. In the lead-up to this hearing, I have never seen so many distortions, so much media hysteria, so many professional hard-core Muslim organizations attacking me, attacking the committee.

So, if there's any propaganda that comes out of this, I would say it's the lead-up to the hearings, because today's hearings were conducted in a totally professional way.

BALDWIN: OK.

KING: I think all of the witnesses acquitted themselves well, those who agreed with me and those who didn't.

BALDWIN: So, let's put the hysteria and the distortions aside for a moment, and just be candid, Mr. Chairman.

KING: Right. BALDWIN: What did you and the many, many Americans who watched these hearings today, what did they learn about Islam that perhaps we didn't know before?

KING: I think what they learned was the extent of Muslim- American radicalization by al Qaeda in their communities today and how terrible it is, the impact it has on families, how extensive it is, and also that the main victims of this are Muslim-Americans themselves, where not only are they being radicalized by al Qaeda, but they are not getting the support they need from their mosques, their imams or their local Muslim organizations, that there's a need for a new leadership to come forward in the Muslim-American community.

BALDWIN: So if you talk about leadership, I think I heard you earlier saying there will be consequences in the Muslim-American community and this is just the start perhaps of a national conversation. So now that you have the testimonies in the can, if you will, what, Congressman King, is next?

KING: Well, I will have a series of hearings over the next year on the issue of Muslim-American radicalization. Probably, the next one will be in several months. It will involve radicalization in the American prison system.

And I'm hoping, though, that everything doesn't have to come from Congress. I'm hoping that in the Muslim community itself, this will engender a debate and they will realize how poorly served they are by groups such as CAIR, an unindicted co-conspirator, that that is more damaging to their community.

Why do they want to be represented by such a radical organization? And we saw today real people on the ground in Mr. Bihi and Mr. Bledsoe, and we saw a scholar such as Dr. Jasser talking about again the challenge that faces the Muslim-American community.

BALDWIN: So this hearing, I hear you saying, is the beginning of several others to come.

Congressman Peter King from New York, appreciate it, sir.

KING: Brooke, thank you very much.

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