Peter King, the Republican Congressman from New York, who recently called for the assassination of WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange as a “terrorist”, is a long-time supporter of the Provisional IRA, and met members of the group in the 1980s.

An energetic fund-raiser with NORAID, the US group that channelled millions of dollars to the IRA* during the 30 years of conflict, paying for its supplies of guns and Semtex, King was defending the group British well after the Good Friday agreement, denying that there was any IRA involvement in the murder of Robert McCartney, and its cover-up in 2005.

King had broken with support for Sinn Fein and the IRA in 2004, not because of any events in Ireland, but because the party/group had come out against the Iraq War.

King will be the new chair of the Homeland Security Committee when the 112th Congress begins sitting in January. He has earlier remarked that Assange should be treated the way the US treats any enemy combatant with “drones and Gitmo” — i.e. piloted bombs and torture in Guantanamo prison camps.

He has modified his stance since, to using “legal” measures, suggesting that WikiLeaks be designated a terrorist outfit, saying that he wants to seize their funds and go after anyone who provides them with any help or contributions or assistance whatsoever.

That, of course, includes newspapers such as the New York Times and The Guardian. It also now includes News Ltd, after The Australian published — and will presumably pay for — an op-ed by Julian Assange.

So how does the supporter of a violent group have the nerve to accuse a documents website of being “terrorists”? Maybe it was just sentimental support for Oirishry from across the pond.

No, King was hardcore. He first went to Ireland in 1980, as an aide to New York Senator Al D’Amato, who knew that the Irish-Americans had to be kept on side. He became a passionate supporter of the IRA. Here he is from a rally in Long Island — Long Island! — in 1982:

“We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry.”

So 1982, hey? Here’s something from the IRA incident log:

20 July 1982: The Hyde Park and Regents Park bombings: In Hyde Park, a bomb killed two members of the British Army’s Household Cavalry performing ceremonial duties in the park, and seven of their horses were also killed. Another device exploded underneath a bandstand in Regent’s Park, killing seven bandsmen from the British Army’s Royal Green Jackets as they played music to spectators.[24]

Congressman King not only defended the IRA through thick and thin, he also turned a blind eye to the fact the group saw itself as a third world anti-colonialist movement, and for reasons of solidarity and money, forged relationships with guerilla/terrorist groups. As Alex Massie notes, in 2002, King attempted to prevent hearings into the links between IRA officers and FARC in Colombia.

Lest one imagine this is all in the past, let’s remember that the lethal Real IRA is simply the faction of the IRA that didn’t accept the Good Friday agreement. King may well have broken bread with some of the people who are now building up a force that will plunge the six counties into violence again.

So with a US hysterical about terrorism, how is it that King is permitted to be the chair of the Homeland Security Committee, while labelling Assange as a terrorist? Simple. The supine, epic fail of the US media means that those who alight on the point never stay on it for more than three minutes and the Right don’t bring it up at all.

And further out, in the more distant satraps, there is no concern. A US congressman once sponsored political murder on British soil. Now he’s at it again, this time with an Australian citizen in the sights. And the government, in the form of shambling owlish doofus Bob McClelland, offers itself up in service, as Senator Mark Arbib trots through the embassy gates every fortnight. God bless whoever the hell we are.

(*The Provisional IRA split from the IRA in the late 1960s, and was called the PIRA. By the mid-’70s, the Official IRA had withdrawn from active service — after some lethal and inept bombings — and eventually became the Worker’s Party. After that the PIRA was referred to as the IRA).