New Jersey poet loses job after suggesting Israel knew of imminent 9/11 attacks

An appeals court ruled against a former New Jersey poet laureate who lost his job after suggesting Israel had advance knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Former New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey repealed the post in July 2003 after Amiri Baraka wrote a poem suggesting that Israel had advance knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Baraka, a native of Newark, New Jersey, had claimed his rights to free speech were violated when he lost the post and its $10,000 honorarium.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 ruling Wednesday, said the action was legislative and not political in nature and therefore qualified for immunity.

The move came after Baraka read the 60-stanza poem "Somebody Blew Up America" in public. It includes the lines: "Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed/Who told 4,000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers to stay home that day?/Why did Sharon stay away?"

Baraka refused to resign amid the uproar that followed. The governor and Legislature were barred from firing the poet laureate, so McGreevey eliminated the post.

The court also found that the officials did not withhold the money over Baraka's views because the Legislature had not yet appropriated it, reports AP.

Baraka did not immediately return a phone message left at his home Wednesday. Assistant Attorney General Lewis A. Scheindlin did not immediately return a message left at his office.

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