Colorado Ethnic Studies Professor Ward Churchill is fighting back. Defending himself before CU’s committee on conduct yesterday, for the first time he had the opportunity in person to let the University know what he thinks of their investigation into plagiarism charges and charges that he misstated his ethnic identity.

“He ended by saying this is nothing but a political witch hunt,” said David Lane, Churchill’s attorney. “He told them they should stand up for academic freedom and the First Amendment.”

Lane doesn’t sound particularly optimistic about the outcome of the committee investigation.

Lane predicted the committee probably will find that Churchill did violate CU academic standards. Lane said he felt the standard that appeared to be established by the committee was so low that it likely would send the case to the tenure committee.

“This entire inquiry is based on the notion, ‘You said what you said about 9-11, and we’re going to find a way to get you,’ ” Lane said. “Their assignment by DiStefano is to find a legal way to get rid of Ward Churchill.”

But, Lane is confident Churchill will win in the end:

“Ultimately, Ward Churchill will continue to teach at the University of Colorado at taxpayer expense for as long as he wants to until he retires,” the attorney said.