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Exclusive: Ward Churchill on why 9/11 attacks were justified

This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," September 9, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


MEGYN KELLY, HOST: For years some of America's most respected and prestigious schools have employed radical professors. Some of whom have even attacked America. From domestic terrorist Bill Ayers to his wife Bernardine Dohrn who was once on the FBI's most wanted list and fellow members of their Weather Underground like Kathy Wilkerson and Kathy Boudin -- Boudin spent 20 years in prison for killing a cop -- to folks who are self-described anarchists. These are some of the people molding the minds of students across this nation. Teachers like this are rarely challenged in public until tonight as we bring you night two of my exclusive interview with former Professor Ward Churchill.
 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)


KELLY (VOICE-OVER): As the U.S. weighs what to do about ISIS, a growing terror army in the Middle East, many fear if we hit this group hard, it will only endanger America and her citizens. Within this collection there's a far left subset that blames these conflicts on American foreign policy and what they view as an arrogant U.S. whose military is so immoral the terrorists can never even the score. Chief among this crowd -- Ward Churchill who for decades was on the inside of America's educational system, a respected, tenured professor at the University of Colorado.
On the day of the 9/11 attacks he penned an essay praising the terrorists as gallant and courageous and compared the dead Americans to a Nazi war criminal.
WARD CHURCHILL, FORMER UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO PROFESSOR: I call this specific cast of characters in the World Trade Center little Eichmanns. And I defined them as being the technocratic core of the empire.
KELLY: For years his essay was either not noticed or not a problem for those within his academic circles. So much so that two years later, the professor doubled down turning his musings into a book.
Then came 2005 and an invitation to speak at a college in Upstate New York, the home state o of 9/11's Ground Zero. And Professor Churchill's essay suddenly took center stage.
BILL O'REILLY, HOST, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": I mean, this guy -- this is just cruel to say these people deserved it, they were little Nazis.
KELLY: The national media caught wind of Churchill's writings and within two years Churchill's career was effectively over. He was allegedly fired for academic misconduct. The university claimed it had discovered fraud in Churchill's research, but Churchill argued he was fired for his comments, a violation of his free speech rights. A jury sided with Churchill but the verdict was overturned.
And now as America marks 13 years since the 9/11 attacks, Churchill has resurfaced calling America the evil empire and arguing in the war on terror the U.S. has ceded the moral high ground.
Before we show you part two of our interview, some highlights from part one.
 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)


KELLY: How could you draw a moral equivalence between 3,000 dead Americans and a murderous Nazi like Adolf Eichmann?
CHURCHILL: Well, first off, I did not make a reference to 3,000 Americans in that connection. I made a reference to what I described as a technocratic core of empire which was a particular group within that 3,000.
KELLY: The folks in the Twin Towers?
CHURCHILL: Twin Towers, there is also a body count at the Pentagon that day.
KELLY: Let's talk about the Little Eichmanns reference, because that's one of the piece of what you wrote that got people so upset. Adolf Eichmann, you describe as him as technocrat, in within the Nazi Army.
CHURCHILL: Bureaucrat would work too.
KELLY: A paper pusher, as far as you're concerned.
CHURCHILL: Essentially that's correct.
KELLY: He, the viewers should know, actually escaped after the war and took refuge in Argentina under a different name before he was ultimately captured by the Mossad, the Israeli forces, and put to death, the only man in the history of Israel to be put to death by execution.
But what he said while he was hiding in Argentina is as follows. Number one, he said, quote, you know, "I called my men into my Berlin office and formally took leave of them. If it has to be, I told them, I will gladly jump into my grave in the knowledge that 5 million enemies of the Reich have already died like animals."
It doesn't sound like a paper pusher.
On the other hand, you know, you thought that the dead Americans were just like the Nazis. However, you had nothing but praise for the 9/11 hijackers. You call them courageous, even gallant.
CHURCHILL: Uh-huh.
KELLY: Gallant?
CHURCHILL: Uh-huh.
KELLY: Al Qaeda? The guys who flew those jets in the Twin Trade Centers?
CHURCHILL: Yeah.
Now, if you ask me of do I actually believe that or do I believe that I'm still making the point? This is what it feels like when people who are sitting at computer consoles 1,500 miles away firing cruise missiles into your cities are called heroes.
KELLY: But you understand that Al Qaeda routinely kills civilians? This group ISIS routinely kills civilians, and that's the purpose...


(CROSSTALK)


CHURCHILL: Are you asking me if I'm a supporter of Al Qaeda?
KELLY: That's -- you certainly sound like you like them.
CHURCHILL: No. I sound like the Pentagon briefer...


(CROSSTALK)


KELLY: That you have the courage of their conviction. They're gallant.
CHURCHILL: Yeah.
You yourself poured salt in the wounds of the victims of 9/11 and their families. So, how can you claim the moral high ground when it comes to causing pain, causing destruction when you at the most vulnerable moment did the very same thing to them?
CHURCHILL: Which is exactly the point again, this is done day in, day out continuously.
KELLY: You're pointing to somebody else.
Will you apologize to anyone?
CHURCHILL: No.


(END VIDEO CLIPS)


KELLY: And tonight Former University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill answers that question in part two of our interview.


(END VIDEOTAPE)
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)


KELLY: Will you apologize to anyone?
CHURCHILL: No, I will not apologize. When I hear an apology for the half million odd Iraqi children, then I'll take it under consideration. As to the American children who were killed, I mourn them. I mourn them proportionately just as much as I mourn any given one of those Iraqi children.
KELLY: Proportionately, that's interesting.
You spent your life working for the government you hate, a little hypocritical?
CHURCHILL: I used it for the exact purpose that you're hearing now, which is try to explain things. That was the job.
KELLY: How about ISIS? Are they evil?
CHURCHILL: Sure, they are. They're not Christian so I can't really speak for Islam in terms of the concept of evil, but...
KELLY: But you describe the Al Qaeda terrorists as brave. Do you believe that ISIS terrorists are brave?
CHURCHILL: Let me try this one more time and see if you get it this time. I was writing in directly the voice of a Pentagon briefer, only I'm running the record in reverse. Now, I don't know exactly how you want me to take responsibility.
 

(CROSSTALK)


KELLY: Do you believe it's brave? Do you believe courageous? I'm asking the question, do you believe ISIS is brave and courageous and restrained?
CHURCHILL: As brave and courageous and restrained as any of the American forces that are described as brave, courageous...
KELLY: Can you answer yes or no?
CHURCHILL: Exactly the same. I don't find either of them especially redeeming. You don't find me joining a particular formation of fundamentalist formation. I'm not especially enthralled with fundamentalism of any sort.
KELLY: So, we have no moral high ground when it comes to America versus ISIS?
CHURCHILL: I've seen American moral high ground at work in Southeast Asia, thank you very much, and the answer to that would be a, absolute no.
KELLY: OK. We don't.
CHURCHILL: We don't.
KELLY: So, what should we do? Should we let them just commit these atrocities with impunity, should we let them go on beheading Christians, beheading children, committing crucifixions, raping women.
CHURCHILL: I have heard one good suggestion on this on what we could do to maybe alleviate the situation would be stop killing their babies.
KELLY: OK. So, it's back on us. If we want ISIS to stop killing Christians...
CHURCHILL: Sure. Take some responsibility as you put it.
KELLY: But how far can we take it, professor. Should we let them come here to the homeland? Do we get to defend ourselves if they try bomb us?
CHURCHILL: Whose homeland is this?
KELLY: It is yours, sir? Are we back on that again?
CHURCHILL: I don't know, is it?
KELLY: You tell me, professor.
CHURCHILL: How did this get to be this homeland?
KELLY: OK. So, we're to that. The genocide against Native Americans justifies every bad thing that ever happens to the United States.
CHURCHILL: No, it's a question. I'm not quite sure that you're putting words in my mouth would necessarily be an answer to the question, but how exactly did this homeland come to be the homeland.
KELLY: Why do you live here? If you hate America so much, why have you chosen to stay here?
CHURCHILL: It's my country. It's also my homeland.
KELLY: But why stay if you...
CHURCHILL: I heard you, sort of, scoff and dismiss the genocide of American Indians.
KELLY: We're going to get to that, we're going to do that.
CHURCHILL: We're at that. You're the one that was just like scoffing at the idea that there might be some implication, the idea that you exterminate entire populations of people in order to claim this homeland that needs defending.
KELLY: Well, the problem I have with you position on Native Americans -- I will tell you this, is that, you've been found to be a dishonest broker repeatedly.
CHURCHILL: Really?
KELLY: You have. And I don't know anything about you, professor. I've just researched you. And what I've found is that you've been accused of grossly overstating and in some case -- cases inventing these atrocities of which you speak. And I'll give the viewers examples.
First of all, this is the investigative committee that came after you at the University of Colorado Boulder. The investigative committee came out and said, quote, "Churchill has created myths under the banner of academic scholarship." They found a, quote, "pattern of deliberate academic misconduct involving falsification and fabrication," specifically, with respect to your claims about the Native Americans. Go ahead.
CHURCHILL: Well, it might be of interest to you to know that that committee on the basis of that report and their mustering of so-called factual data were found to have engaged in myth making in first degree. Guilty of everything they accused me of to the extent that they had to be immunized from the consequences of their actions by the administration of the University of Colorado. And that a panel of scholars, University of Colorado, went through point by point in exhaustive detail and produced a report for the AAUP, which is posted online for journal of academic freedom, that found that there was no validity to any of the findings of that investigative report, plus, there's a jury in Denver, Colorado, which concluded, having been told repeatedly that me having been actually guilty of any of the offenses that are delineated in the investigative report. Any one would have been sufficient grounds for firing and a jury determined that they had no grounds for firing on that basis at all.
KELLY: The jury believed -- just so the viewers understand -- the jury believed that the university was using your allege academic misconduct as a ruse to fire you for your comments about 9/11. That's what the jury concluded. They did not say that the conclusions about your academic misconduct were fair or unfair. That's the truth.
Hold on, because there's a second point. And that is it wasn't just the investigative committee as you know. Several historians have come out and said you misrepresented the facts. A UCLA professor, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation and two others refuted your assertions (ph) assertions (ph) that were based on their works, they called it, quote, an "out and out fabrication" that the westerners infected the Indians with smallpox based on giving them all these blankets. You claimed up to 400,000 Native Americans were killed. They said, quote, "it's just the making up of a data" and "shouldn't be tolerated in science."
Number two. Professor Thomas Brown of Lamar University, quote, "Every aspect of Churchill's tale is fabricated. Churchill has fabricated incidents that never occurred and individuals who never existed. He falsified the sources that he cited in support of his tale and repeatedly concealed evidence in his possession that disconfirms his version of events." These are the guys on whose work, your claims are based
And third, Cherokee sociologist Russell Thornton wrote to The L.A. Times, and Inside Higher Ed that "history is bad enough, there's no need to embellish it." He thinks you were inflating the numbers unfairly. He went on to say, "He blatantly misrepresented me, it was totally inappropriate. I'm his source for this allegation and it's wrong, it's academic fraud sustained over several essays." So they're all lying about Ward Churchill?
CHURCHILL: You probably should know what you're talking about when you're talking on national TV, Megyn.
KELLY: I want to get...


(CROSSTALK)


KELLY: Once again, I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm glad I have you here to explain it to me.
CHURCHILL: Yeah. That Thomas Brown, that Thomas man was fired from Lamar University, he hasn't been a professor in ...
KELLY: And you were fired too for academic misconduct, sir. It's tough to claim that moral high ground.
CHURCHILL: You're going to suggest that that discredits me, you should be accepting that that's discrediting Thomas Brown.


(CROSSTALK)


KELLY:
A lot of people tell lies about you. A lot of people tell lies about you, a lot of them, a long list.
CHURCHILL: Yeah. I have to say that there's probably a lot of people that tell lies about you out there, too.
KELLY: OK.
CHURCHILL: Or at least what you would view as lies but they don't get tend to get parsed by academic committees and there's a rather large number that can be cited.


(END VIDEO TAPE)


KELLY: If you stay tuned for nothing else, watch the next segment. In it, we lay bare the fallacy of his claims about the Twin Towers on 9/11. And at last, his answer to whether the U.S. should be bombed again.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)


KELLY: What the earlier part of our exchange with Ward Churchill proves is that the professor has a tendency to play fast and loose with the facts. What this next segment proves is that he makes them up entirely, especially when it comes to the subject of 9/11.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)


KELLY: Your justification, one of the many you've offered for the reason the terrorists have the right to bomb the World Trade Center, you said repeatedly it's because the CIA head office is there. And that made it fair game for a military strike, for a strike by terror.
CHURCHILL: According to Pentagon rules. I don't think that's true and I've made this point repeatedly and things have written, that's not true in international law but the Pentagon invokes that continuously.
KELLY: OK. But you realize that those CIA offices, A, were covert, were not known by anybody prior to the actual bombing and, B, those officers were in World Trade Center 7, that was not attacked by the terrorists, it fell down due to burning debris.
CHURCHILL: Well, we are parsing again. I don't know what they knew and what didn't know.
KELLY: I don't call it parsing, I call it an adherence to the truth.
CHURCHILL: I didn't even who they were. So, what you're inroads are into the intelligence apparatus of Al Qaeda...
KELLY: Do you know better than I?
CHURCHILL: No. But I don't know that they didn't know. And I think, perhaps, this is at least is precise as U.S. precision bombing.
KELLY: They didn't hit World Trade Center 7. Even if they knew -- let's assume your invented story about them knowing, somehow they knew but nobody else did.
CHURCHILL: That wasn't an invented story. I said I don't know.
KELLY: But they didn't hit World Trade Center 7, sir, so it makes no sense. You offer -- the point I'm making is, you offer these assertions, you offer them as fact. You have young college students who for many years believed this stuff. And it's only when you're held to account that people start to see you don't know what you're talking about on a lot of these issues.
CHURCHILL: I know exactly what I'm talking about, I know that that was at least as precise as U.S. precision bombing.
KELLY: That's a dodge. You claim they targeted...
CHURCHILL: No, that's a fact is what that happens to be.
KELLY: You claim they targeted it because the CIA was there and that made it fair game. A, there's no evidence they knew that the CIA was in there. In fact the evidence is to the contrary that no one knew. And B, they didn't target World Trade Center 7. They got the first and the second towers. That -- that tower came down afterwards, thanks to debris.
CHURCHILL: That, perhaps, is the way they got at it. It is, at least as accurate as U.S. precision bombing. Where the bombs fell quite often, as much as three miles from the designated made in target.
KELLY: Are you writing a textbook?
CHURCHILL: I hope so.
KELLY: Are you in the process?
CHURCHILL: I'm always writing, whether it turns out to be a textbook or not.
KELLY: But a text book, I mean, is there are university that's still in the market for Ward Churchill's thoughts?
CHURCHILL: There's universities all over the country that are in the market for Word Churchill's thoughts.
KELLY: The text as an instruction manual for students?
CHURCHILL: Assigned readings count as text, I would suppose. I've not written a textbook per se, don't know that I will, think that I might at some point in any case.
KELLY: Is it true that you believe we may get more attacks that resemble the 9/11 attacks and we deserve them?
CHURCHILL: Well, given my experience and misery in airports ever since 9/11, I would assume that I'm not the only one that thinks we might get more attacks.
KELLY: And that we deserve them?
CHURCHILL: You keep doing what you're doing, you're probably going to get responded to in kind. There's a sort of a symmetry to it.
I don't know. There's a fair amount of damage inflicted, collateral damage inflicted by drone attacks. That's a little easier to put under the radar. People don't tend to hear about that here. But people tend to hear about it in areas of the drone attacks are occurring and they're occurring at a fairly high degree of frequency and the toll is pretty high. And I would imagine that's upsetting people. Don't you?
KELLY: Do you believe the United States ought to be bombed?
CHURCHILL: I think the United States by its own rules is subject to being bombed.
KELLY: You can't answer the question.
CHURCHILL: Yeah, I have answered the question.
KELLY: Yes or no. Yes or no if we deserve to be bombed.
CHURCHILL: I think the United States should comply with law, if it does not comply to law, it opens itself up to it. Bombing, that is. It opens itself up to having done to it everything it does to everyone else.
KELLY: Why can't you have the courage to just answer honestly yes or no. Do we deserve to be bombed? Just say it if you think it's true.
CHURCHILL: I say that if you open yourself up under rule of law for reciprocation in kind, it's quite likely going to happen. I will say that at that point no more than a murderer who's convicted and punished, you have no complaint. That's what I say.


(END VIDEO TAPE)


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