Controversial Instructor Speaks About His 9/11 Views, UW Course

Kevin Barrett Appears On 'For The Record'
By Adam Malecek, Staff Writer
POSTED: 6:12 pm CDT July 22, 2006

MADISON, Wis. -- Controversial University of Wisconsin-Madison lecturer Kevin Barrett appeared on WISC-TV's "For The Record," discussing his views on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Islamic studies and the class he is teaching this fall at UW-Madison.

Recently, 61 state legislators signed a resolution calling for UW-Madison to fire Barrett over his outspoken views that the U.S. government orchestrated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

UW-Madison Provost Patrick Farrell reviewed Barrett's record and decided he was qualified to teach an introductory course on Islam as scheduled in the fall. Farrell said that the university doesn't endorse Barrett's theories, but he said that his review found Barrett has a record of quality teaching.

On "For The Record," Barrett said his views are always evolving but explained how his current thoughts on 9/11 developed.

He said that immediately after the attacks, he was in a state of shock and wasn't sure who was behind the attacks.

"And as time went by, gradually the whole country went into a war frenzy, which I didn't really feel like I was participating in," Barrett said. "And I noticed there were a lot of holes in the official story and a lot of suspicious aspects to it from the get go. But, at the same time, I couldn't imagine that such an act could be orchestrated from the top of the U.S. government. So that thought didn't even enter my mind in a big way until two years after the event."

Barrett said that two things got him to start thinking along the lines that the U.S. government was behind the attacks.

The first was a televised debate on Aljazeera where a guest argued that a missile, not a plane, hit the Pentagon. Barrett said a poll on the program showed that the vast majority of the Aljazeera audience believed the U.S. government was behind the attack.

"I also didn't know that the arguments in favor of this looked stronger than the arguments against it, so I thought I'd better look closer," Barrett said.

The second moment came when Barrett heard that Dr. David Ray Griffin, a professor emeritus at the Claremont School of Theology, was writing a book called The New Pearl Harbor.

"As soon as I heard Dr. Griffin was on the case, I thought I'd better get on the case too, because he's a brilliant man, a man of uncommon common sense," Barrett said. "So, I looked into it myself, and lo-and-behold, I couldn't believe what I found. The evidence for complicity is so overwhelming I was really stunned, and I spent a few weeks kind of in a funk thinking, 'Wow, what am I going to do with this information?'"

Barrett said he thinks the core of the 9/11 issue is the question of whether the three World Trade Center buildings were destroyed with explosives or whether they fell down for some other reason, such as being damaged plane crashes or fires.

"I think that, at this point, no rational person who looks at the evidence can argue against the proposition that the three World Trade Center buildings -- the twin towers and WTC Building 7, especially -- were taken down in controlled demolitions. That I think is, by now, proven beyond a reasonable doubt, as David Griffin has said and as everyone who has looked into it, I think from a fair-minded perspective, agrees."

As for the Pentagon and Flight 93, Barrett said he finds both events more puzzling.

"I find the whole Pentagon incident troubling, disquieting, confusing, and I wouldn't want to make any strong pronouncements about being certain what happened there," he said.

The course Barrett will teach at UW-Madison in the fall is called "Islam: Religion and Culture." He said it is like any other introductory religious studies class, with the purpose of giving the students a feel for the religious worldview, as well as acquainting them with some of the contemporary cultural, social and political issues surrounding the religion.

"The religion itself is the focus, not the politics," Barrett said. "In fact, if students sign up for my class with the idea that they're going to get a Conspiracy Theory 101 class, or a 'What Happened On 9/11' class, they are going to be sorely disappointed."

Barrett -- who has a PhD in African Languages and Literature with a focus on Islamic Studies -- said that one week of the class will be devoted to critically analyzing the idea of the War on Terror, and that views on 9/11 will be a small part of that week.

"I'm not going to be teaching my views … I'm simply going to be presenting other people's views -- ones that I think are worth hearing, and students get to make up their own minds," Barrett said.

He said that he plans to teach the different views with equal enthusiasm, noting that he would present the official account of 9/11 without any sarcasm in his voice.

"I try to ventriloquate different people's voices, and do a good job on everybody's voice," he said. "And, likewise, students of all persuasions and opinions, I try to enthusiastically celebrate their contributions, even if I personally think they are completely ridiculous."

Barrett said he appreciates all the UW-Madison administrators who, while not personally subscribing to his views, have supported his right to teach.

"I'm happy to find out there are a lot of people in Wisconsin who stand up for that old line, 'I may not agree with what you say, but I'll fight to the death for your right to say it,'" Barrett said.

While he said the controversy might hurt his career prospects in the short term, Barrett said he's "angling for the long-term."

"I think a lot sooner than most people realize, 9/11 is going blow wide open," he said. "The official report doesn't stand up to scrutiny -- it's very simple."

Barrett said he is optimistic that 9/11 will ultimately be a catalyst for Americans to take back the Constitution.

"We have a great Constitution in this country, and it's been trashed and burned by this current administration," he said. "And not just this administration … a lot (of Democrats) are equally responsible."