Benjamin Barber, once a respected political theorist, was clearly bought by Libyian oil money and/or access to Moammar Gaddafi ("In several one-on-one conversations [with Gaddafi] over the past year"). (Thank you Jacob Levy for calling my attention this via facebook.) His 2007 Washington Post op-ed on behalf of a raprochement between Libyia and the USA reads like classic propaganda. The op-ed did not disclose all the ties between Barber and his sponsors. In a recent Huffington Post editorial, we learn that he offers his "views about Libya here not just as a democratic theorist and HuffPost regular, but as a member of the International Board of the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation."
Amazingly, Barber continues to extoll the academic credentials of Gaddafi JR ("Oxford University Press, which contracted to publish the two extraordinary books Saif wrote on civil society and democratic reform in the developing world, will presumably now cancel publication".) Of course, as Brian Leiter noted, Saif Gaddafi bought a degree from LSE for a plagiarized dissertation.
Now the buying and selling of degrees is as old as the academy. (My favorite example is Christiaan Huygens' law degree bought from the University of Angers by his important dad, known to philosophers as a sometime correspondent of Descartes.) Yet, it looks as if LSE will not suffer any reputational damage nor will the academics involved (presumably influential gate-keepers within philosophy and political theory) suffer any consequences. (It is nice to read that Fred Halliday objected to the course of events.)
To be clear: I am not against universities accepting tainted/blood money. (Most universities will have a building or a scholarship named after terrible human beings.) But there should be a clear barrier between the academic degrees and the corrupt source. All to maintain the useful fiction that we are engaged in a noble enterprise.