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When is a Professor not a Professor? When his PhD comes from a university that doesn't exist. Besides regretting being jealous that someone else can purchase a degree on the cheap while I toiled in the liberal arts for four (okay five) years, why should anyone care?

We should care when a fake university provides a diploma to a man who housed two of the 9/11 hijackers. We should care when respected media outlets like the LA Times report without questioning that the man is a Professor who housed the two hijackers as "students." We should care when that "Professor" makes repeated and false claims that he was never an FBI Informant, even though it's been proven he was.

Of course, somebody does care...

Think what you'd like about Daniel Hopsicker, chief investigative reporter of the MadCow Morning News. Here's what I think: while he often seems to aim for a "Current Affair" level of sensationalist urgency -- and miss -- he has demonstrated time and again a willingness to go where information can be found, and speak with people who may hold just one piece of a puzzle. It's putting those pieces together that exposes a greater web of "coincidence."

Hopsicker's newest investigation lead him to San Diego to find out what he could about Abdussattar Shaikh, a man called "the best chance to uncover the September 11 plot before it happened" by the Joint Congressional 9/11 Intelligence Committee.

What Hopsicker discovered is that "Professor" Shaikh obtained his degree from a bogus university; one of many mail-drop-only diploma mills in San Diego.

The man who had two hijackers living in his house in San Diego while operating at the same time as a confidential informant for the FBI was identified in wire reports as "a retired professor of English as San Diego State" as well as "vice president for international projects at American Commonwealth University."

After visiting the various locations around San Diego where he was said to have worked, we discovered that Abdussattar Shaikh never taught at San Diego State, nor been a Professor of English, and possesses a phony PhD from a bogus diploma mill run by people with U.S. military and intelligence connections, and the University for which he was said to be a vice president for international projects does not, in fact, exist.

American Commonwealth University not only didn't exist at the time it was claimed Shaikh was a Vice President there, but it had been closed down by state regulators. In its place had sprung up any number of new "universities," usually owned by a revolving cast of the same characters. Why does it matter if the man was a Professor or not?

Let's see. He housed two of the hijackers. Three other suspected terrorists rented rooms in his home, and were later arrested in connection with the War on Terror. At least three of his neighbors identified Mohammad Atta to the FBI as being a visitor in his home. He stated repeatedly that he had never been an informant for the FBI, which has been proven a lie. Before that, he was partners with another confidential FBI informant in a hotel venture in San Diego. That venture was described by a former manager as an operation designed specifically to house foreign students of bogus universities. His advanced degree standing, professorship, and false positions at non-existent universities were reported in the media with a straight face and no further investigation. The false universities which he "attended" were formerly named after and supported by former military officials -- officials so prominent in GOP fundraising circles that Governor Pete Wilson stepped in personally to try and keep the universities from being shut down.

As I said earlier, you can view Hopsicker as you will: an investigative journalist with a nose for sniffing out crucial witnesses and information, or a wannabe Maury Povich sensationalizing tragedy and refusing to let innocent fake Professors get on with their lives. One thing we ought to do before we make those judgments is take a look at what he's uncovered.

Originally posted to Irony on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 08:57 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Nonexistent universities (none)
    Part of my job is verification of educational credentials.  These business entities that present themselves as universities are becoming a huge problem.  They don't just give out cute certificates that say you graduated from Harvard; they give out degrees in oncology and neuroscience, nuclear physics and psychology.  And so many people don't know about them, and accept them at face value.  

    "Republicans are poor losers and worse winners." - My grandmother, sometime in the early 1960s

    by escapee on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 09:13:12 AM PDT

  •  Huh? (none)
    You should have included some more on this bit -
    "a bogus diploma mill run by people with U.S. military and intelligence connections"
    and, if Hopsicker is to be believed, it seems there are pretty strong GOP connections there as well.

    Practice absurdus interruptus - Support ePluribus Media.

    by Catte Nappe on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 09:16:10 AM PDT

    •  There is more... (none)
      ...on the former military connections in Hopsicker's article. I didn't want my first diary to be too long, but here are some relevant quotes:

      Shaikh's supposed "employer," American Commonwealth University, for example, began life as William Lyon University, named for and founded by retired Air Force General  William Lyon, a big wheel in California Republican circles as Chairman of the GOP's "Team California Victory 2004,"  and a member of a group of wealthy, high-powered Orange County's Republicans called "The New Majority."

      At one time both `schools' cited in Shaikh's resume--American Commonwealth and United States International University--had been run by Dr. Richard Crews, an M.D. from Harvard, whose pedigree includes stints as Chief of Psychiatry at Womack military hospital and  "Chief of Mental Hygiene Consultation Services" at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home of America's Special Forces.

      I also didn't go into another big section of Hopsicker's investigation, which is the man with whom Shaikh was partnered in the hotel venture, Sam Koutchesfahani (Sam doesn't appear to be much of a landlord, since he rented the Heaven's Gate cultists the home where they committed suicide). Just for fun:

      We discovered that Koutchesfahani also boasts a bogus PhD as well. He has a doctorate in psychology (we like to think that perhaps his specialty is anger management) from a diploma mill called "Newport  University."

      "So much thinking in our society has been replaced by following. I know God didn't make us for that." --Keith Olbermann

      by Irony on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 09:32:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  tip of the iceberg.... (none)
    Let's see...
    We have Al Qaeda being headed by a "former" CIA asset Osama Bin Laden, who was offered to the US on a silver platter by the Sudanese government throughout the latter half of the 90's, an offer rejected.  We have incredibly close connection between our Preznit and the Bin Laden clan (Farenheight 9/11 was also just the tip of the iceberg on this topic too).  We have numerous early of an attack that went unheeded.  We have hijackers housing with FBI informants.  We have one of the most incompetent and unsuccessful prosecutions imaginable (how many people have been caught in connection with 9/11?).  We have NeoCons that were just waiting for a a New Pearl Harbor.  We have a history of staged incidences to get us into wars the public otherwise wouldn't accept (remember the Maine folks...oh, and don't forget the pesky Gulf of Tonkin incident).  

    Hmmmm....seems like the MSM sort of let us down on this whole 9/11-War on Terror thing.  Good thing there are lots of well documented and indepedent books and websites on this topic.  

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