Academic board of new Ron Paul institute includes 9/11 truther, other radicals

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
Font Size:

The academic board for former Rep. Ron Paul’s recently unveiled Institute for Peace and Prosperity includes at least one 9/11 Truther and two of the most well-known apologists for Iran’s theocratic government in the United States.

In Washington last week, Ron Paul launched his policy institute, with the goal of mobilizing “colleagues and collaborators of Dr. Paul’s to participate in a broad coalition to educate and advocate for fundamental changes in our foreign and domestic policy,” according to its website.

One of the academic board members for the institute is Eric Margolis, an independent journalist who has questioned whether Osama bin Laden was behind the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and wondered in writing whether the attacks were not instead really orchestrated by “America’s far right or Israel.”

“After 9/11, Secretary of State Colin Powell promised Americans the State Department would issue a White Paper detailing bin Laden’s guilt. Afghanistan’s Taliban government asked for this document before it would extradite bin Laden, as the U.S. was demanding,” Margolis wrote in a 2010 article entitled, “9/11. The Mother of all Coincidences.”

“The White Paper was never produced, and the U.S. ignored proper legal procedure and invaded Afghanistan. We still wait for evidence,” the journalist asserted.

“I remain uncertain that Osama bin Laden was really behind the attacks. Much circumstantial evidence points to him and al-Qaida, but conclusive proof still lacks,” he continued.

In the article, Margolis propagated the conspiratorial notion that the 9/11 attacks could very well have been President George W. Bush’s Reichstag fire.

“On 28 February, 1933, fire, set by a Dutch Jew, ravaged the Germany’s parliament, the Reichstag,” he wrote.

“While the Reichstag’s ruins were still smoking, Adolf Hitler’s government declared a war against ‘terrorism.’ A ‘Decree for the Protection of People and State’ was promulgated suspending all legal protections of speech, assembly, property, and personal liberties. The Reichstag fire allowed the government to round up ‘terrorism’ suspects without due process of law and made police powers near absolute. Sound familiar?”

“I’ve seen no hard evidence to date that 9/11 was a plot by America’s far right or by Israel or a giant cover-up,” Margolis concluded. “Just, perhaps, the Mother of All Coincidences. In the end, it may just have been 19 angry Arabs and a bumbling Bush administration looking for someone else to blame.”

Another academic board member, Southwestern Law School Professor Butler Shaffer, has danced around trutherism, lamenting in an article that too many Americans seemingly refuse to even entertain the notion that the government may have perpetrated the 9/11 attacks.

“I spoke to a young college student the other day,” he wrote in 2006. “He informed me that he had asked his political science professor whether he thought it possible that persons within the United States government might have been involved in the 9/11 attacks. His professor adamantly denied even the possibility, saying that American government officials were too decent to ever do such a thing. Is this what passes for ‘science’ in the study of government?”

“In light of the lies, forgeries, cover-ups, and other deceptions leading to a ‘war’ in Iraq, how can any intellectually honest person categorically deny the possibility of the involvement of American political interests in 9/11?” Shaffer added, before emphasizing he was not asserting the U.S. government was involved — only that it was one of two likely culprits along with Al-Qaeda.

“What forces were responsible for the crimes of 9/11?” he wrote. “Admittedly, I do not know, nor am I prepared to transform my skepticisms into accusations. Perhaps it is the lawyer in me that has this strange attraction to evidence as the basis for my empirical judgments. In employing the ‘cui bono?’ test as a point of departure, I find only two groups which, in Inspector Morse’s question, seem to have benefited from these attacks: (1) Al-Qaeda, and (2) the United States government.”

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett also grace the institute’s academic board. The married scholars have often been criticized for being apologists for the Iranian regime.

At a recent event at the Center for National Interest on their new book, the two essentially blamed the entirety of the conflict between Iran and the United States on U.S. actions. When asked if Iran has done anything to possibly contribute to the current tensions, Flynt Leverett punted.

“In terms of what Iran has done, I’m really not interested in keeping score,” Flynt said

Asked about Iran’s abysmal human rights record at the forum, Flynt turned the focus back to the U.S., saying, “I think the U.S. government simply has no credibility to address human rights issues in Iran or in the Middle East more broadly.”

Hillary Mann Leverett even praised the Iranian regime’s record on women’s rights, despite the fact that in Iran, among other things, a woman’s testimony in court is worth half a man’s and a woman can be punished by the government for dressing immodestly.

“[I]t is a country that actually delivers for women,” she said.

“[B]ecause it is an Islamic framework, the government has been able to make investments and institute policies that have transformed the role of women — transformed the role of women — that give universal access to women from preschool to PhD so that today the majority of students in all the universities … are women,” she argued.

In September 2010, when he was in New York to speak at the United Nations, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad even visited Hillary Mann Leverett’s Yale graduate seminar to talk to her students.

Another of the institute’s academic board has suggested that Afghans are more justified in attacking the U.S. than the U.S. is in attacking Afghanistan, which harbored Osama bin Laden and refused to turn him over after the 9/11 attacks.

“My short answer to these critics is that there is no country that is now justified in invading any other country because of the World Trade Center attack of 9/11, but if there were, it would be the Afghans who would be more justified in committing further terrorist acts in the US than we would be in killing further innocents in that nation in this terroristic manner,” Loyola University New Orleans professor Walter Block wrote in 2007.

“In my view complete justice would require that the US (well, those individuals responsible) pay reparations for initiating these murderous hostilities. We killed far more innocent people abroad than the 3,000 guiltless Americans who perished in New York City on 9/11, a day that will long live in infamy.”

Block considers the 9/11 attack an understandable reaction to U.S. foreign policy abroad and if the U.S. is justified in going into Afghanistan to get Osama bin Laden, the victims of American aggression abroad are even more justified in invading the U.S.

“Long before 9/11 took place, our own country was busy killing innocents abroad in those parts of the world,” he wrote. Thus, if the U.S. is justified in going into Afghanistan to hunt for Osama bin Laden, and other perpetrators and aiders and abetters of the crimes of 9/11 in New York City, then they are even more righteous in doing precisely the same thing to us.”

Block is also a supporter of secession and a critic of “the actions of the monster Lincoln.”

Writing about how the U.S. could play a mediating role in many of the world’s conflicts, Block said the U.S. is “hampered” from doing so by the results of the Civil War, which he refers to as “the war against Southern secession.”

“A century and a half after the war against Southern secession, the foreign policy of our country is still hampered by this tragic event,” he wrote.

“That is, had the war of federal aggression not taken place, had the South been allowed to leave peacefully, America would be in a far better position to exert a positive direction on several events which trouble the globe at the present time.”

“Secession will not cure all the world’s ills, but it will bring us a step closer to this goal,” he continued. “When and if the U.S. ceases to imprison the Confederacy, we will be in a far better position to bring about world peace; or, at least, to help put out many local conflagrations.”

The Ron Paul Institute’s executive director tells The Daily Caller that Paul is not “horrified” by the views of his institute’s academic board members.

“Dr. Paul is not horrified by diversity,” Daniel McAdams said in an email.

“For the purposes of the institute, he wanted important academics who agree with him on the moral and practical necessity of a foreign policy of peace. He has such a board.”

Follow Jamie on Twitter