"You should refund this overpayment of $105,240.00 within 30 days."
Professor Richard Falk of Princeton has long been a thorn in the side of the U.S. foreign policy establishment because he has been an outspoken critic of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.
Currently, he serves as U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Palestinians.
But what’s raised the ire of the State Department this time has nothing to do with his views on the Palestinians but rather on 9/11.
For some time now, Falk has been skeptical of the official story around 9/11 and has blurbed the writings of David Ray Griffin, one of the leading critics.
On a long blog posting on January 11 concerning the Tucson shootings, Falk briefly discussed the 9/11 controversy. He wrote that there is an apparent cover-up, and he also condemned the eerie silence of the mainstream media, unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events.
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice seized on these comments as a means for ousting Falk.
Mr. Falks comments are despicable and deeply offensive, and I condemn them in the strongest terms, she said in a statement on Jan. 25.
She added: “Mr. Falk’s latest commentary is so noxious that it should finally be plain to all that he should no longer continue in his position on behalf of the UN.”
In response, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned Falk for his “inflammatory rhetoric,” and called it “preposterous” and “an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in that tragic attack.”
Ban did not, however, remove Falk from his position.
“I certainly meant no disrespect toward the collective memory of 9/11 in the country and elsewhere,” he wrote. “On the contrary, my intention was to encourage an investigation that might finally achieve closure with respect to doubts that remain prevalent among important sectors of the public, including among some 9/11 families.”
Here’s my take on all this: While I wrote a critique of Griffin’s work many years ago and don’t put any stock in the 9/11 Truth movement, another investigation wouldn’t hurt. And what’s crucially important is this: Falk shouldn’t be punished for a thought crime.
As he himself wrote: “What seems apparent from this incident, which is itself disturbing, is that any acknowledgement of doubt about the validity of the official version of the 9/11 events, while enjoying the legal protection of free speech, is denied the political and moral protection that are essential if an atmosphere of free speech worthy of a democracy is to be maintained.”
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his other "McCarthyism Watch" pieces by clicking here.
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter