Washington, DC – University of Michigan professor and NIAC Advisory Board Member Juan Cole has been the target of smear campaigns in the past due to his criticism of neoconservative Middle East policies, particularly the Iraq war.
But now, the New York Times is reporting that the Bush White House and the Central Intelligence Agency may have been directly involved in efforts to discredit Professor Cole.
Glenn L. Carle, a senior CIA officer who served as the top counterterrorism official under the Bush Administration, revealed to the Times yesterday that the White House on at least two occasions sought out damaging personal information about the professor.
Carle says that in 2005, his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council pressed him to track down sensitive information that could be used to “discredit” Cole, telling Carle, “The White House wants to get him.”
It is illegal for the CIA to spy on United States citizens, and Carle says he refused the request.
But, according to Carle, the agency went forward to compile personal information to use against Professor Cole. The Director of National Intelligence at the time, John D. Negroponte, told the Times that he did not recall the incidents but acknowledged that the White House may have worked with others in his office.
Cole, who runs the prominent foreign policy blog Informed Comment, wrote that yesterday’s revelations came “as a visceral shock” and that he hopes the Senate and House Intelligence Committees investigate the matter.
“It seems to me clear that the Bush White House was upset by my blogging of the Iraq War, in which I was using Arabic and other primary sources, and which contradicted the propaganda efforts of the administration attempting to make the enterprise look like a wild shining success,” Cole writes.
The Times reports that, as the White House was allegedly seeking damaging information on Cole, a public campaign was being undertaken by a network of neoconservative columnists, bloggers and pundits to discredit the professor. They sought to block Cole’s possible appointment to Yale University’s faculty, labeling him Anti-American and Anti-Israel. Ultimately, Yale backed away from the appointment.
But Cole, who joined NIAC’s Advisory Board last year, is more concerned by the broader implications of the new revelations regarding the Bush White House and CIA.
“What alarms me most of all in the nakedly illegal deployment of the CIA against an academic for the explicit purpose of destroying his reputation for political purposes is that I know I am a relatively small fish and it seems to me rather likely that I was not the only target of the baleful team at the White House.”