PETER KING’S SECRET SOURCES…. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and one of Congress’ more shameless anti-Muslim bigots, will host some pretty high-profile hearings next month. As King sees it, this is the ideal time for a congressional discussion of “the radicalization” of the Muslim-American community, and to put it mildly, his hearings are a ridiculously bad idea.

To defend the purpose of his stunt, King says hearings are necessary for national security purposes — the Muslim-American mainstream knows of dangerous people in their communities, but refuse to come forward. “When I meet with law enforcement, they are constantly telling me how little cooperation they get from Muslim leaders,” King said when announcing the hearings.

It’s a standard talking point for King, and it’s demonstrably false.

But as his hearings draw closer, the Republican from Long Island is having to get more creative to defend his premise. The witness list for King’s hearings has been in flux for weeks, but in the latest version, all of the witnesses will be Muslims who will apparently contradict the available evidence and the counter-terrorism experts who say Muslim leaders help law enforcement all the time.

Greg Sargent thought of the same question I had.

So the focus of the hearings is on proving that American Muslim leaders have allegedly failed to cooperate with law enforcement officials in disrupting terror plots. That would seem to give folks an opening to make King look pretty silly, by asking: Can you please produce some law enforcement officials who will testify to this?

At this point, the committee chairman has refused to identify even one law enforcement official who can corroborate his argument. But don’t worry, King has an excuse for this.

He said he did not expect to call any of the local law enforcement or counterintelligence experts who he said had told him repeatedly that noncooperation by American Muslims is a “significant issue.” He says they will say these things privately, but not in public.

Oh, I see. The congressman has sources who can substantiate his absurd claims, but they’re secret sources. There are law enforcement officials who want to stop terrorism, and have been stymied by leaders from the Muslim-American community, but these officials are feeling … shy.

We can get into this in more detail as the hearings draw closer, but it’s worth keeping in mind that King’s entire effort here is backwards, and the hearings themselves are likely to do harm.

One of the reasons the United States has traditionally avoided the kind of religious strife seen in other countries is that America doesn’t have a “radicalized” Muslim population. On the contrary, thanks to the fact that we separate religion and government, prohibit discrimination on religious grounds, have civil rights laws, and embrace the principle of equal opportunity, the United States is generally a model of how to avoid the radicalization of minority faith communities.

Indeed, whether Pete King is able to appreciate this or not, one way to radicalize a group of people is for the government to single them out, treat them as a suspect class, and make reckless accusations while suggesting their civil rights are somehow negotiable.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.