"In my view, Mr. [Richard] 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 U.N.," said Susan Rice, U.S. envoy to the world body.
Falk, a law professor from Princeton University, wrote in his blog on Jan. 11 that "awkward gaps and contradictions in the official explanations" fuel suspicions that the United States staged the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Rice condemned Falk's "despicable and deeply offensive" remarks.
"The United States has in the past been critical of Mr. Falk's one-sided and politicized approach to his work for the U.N., including his failure to condemn deliberate human rights abuses by Hamas, but these blog comments are in another category altogether," she said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also blasted Falk for the remarks. "Recently, a special rapporteur suggested there was an 'apparent cover-up' in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States," he told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva today.
"I want to tell you, clearly and directly. I condemn this sort of inflammatory rhetoric. It is preposterous -- an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in that tragic terrorist attack," he said.
But Ban does not have the power to fire Falk, who was appointed by the Human Rights Council, made up of 47 nations.
"The special rapporteurs and other independent experts who represent the Human Rights Council are appointed by the council, not by the secretary-general. Their continuance in their jobs is thus for the council to decide," Vijay Nambiar, Ban's chief of staff, told U.N. Watch, the Geneva-based nongovernmental organization that monitors the U.N.
Rice pointed out that the U.S. and other diplomats walked out last year when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, insinuated that the U.S. government was behind 9/11 and called for an international panel to investigate what happened.
"But the professor doesn't limit his whackadoo world view to Israel. He recently blogged a complaint that not nearly enough attention is paid to the possibility that the Bush administration, and not Al Qaeda, destroyed the World Trade Center on 9/11 by means of controlled explosions," said an editorial in the New York Daily News.
Reacting to the storm of criticism, Falk wrote in the comments section of his blog today:
"My comment intended only to support the effort to investigate further unexplained gaps in the official version that have disturbed large number of persons who have looked into the facts."