Lecturer Under Fire for 9/11 Conspiracy Belief

ByABC News
July 25, 2006, 10:51 AM

July 25, 2006 — -- Wisconsin lawmakers are demanding that a University of Wisconsin-Madison lecturer be pulled from his fall teaching position because of his belief that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were not carried out by terrorists, but by the U.S. government.

Kevin Barrett, who is scheduled to teach the course "Islam: Religion and Culture," said during a recent talk-radio show appearance that the attacks were carried out by the government to start a war in the Middle East.

His comments drew widespread criticism, including action from 52 Wisconsin state Assembly representatives and nine state senators.

The lawmakers signed a letter last week expressing strong disapproval of Barrett's teaching position.

The letter demands that Barrett be released from his lecturing post immediately and says his 9/11 conspiracy theory is "dishonest."

The letter was delivered to Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and University of Wisconsin-Madison officials on Monday.

Barrett maintains, however, that he will not present only his views in the classroom.

"I present what I consider to be interesting and/or defensible positions, and urge the students to come to their own conclusions," Barrett said in an e- mail to ABC News. "I try to present ideas that I absolutely detest with as much enthusiasm as those I love, and often succeed."

Barrett said his views on the 9/11 attacks should not come as a surprise to anyone.

"I've been saying these things for three years, on local and national radio and TV, while teaching at UW-Madison and Edgewood College of Madison," he said. "Nobody even complained before, least of all the students."

Last month, University of Wisconsin provost Patrick Farrell launched a 10-day review of Barrett's course syllabus and reading materials, and examined previous student's evaluations.

"Mr. Barrett's statements regarding the events of Sept. 11 have raised some legitimate concerns about the content and quality of instruction in his planned fall course," Farrell said in a statement.

Ultimately, Farrell's investigation concluded that Barrett would be a qualified instructor.