A liberal blogger wants to know if there is any truth to reports that the Bush administration tried to have the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) “discredit” him.
The American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) planned to file a lawsuit Wednesday to find out if the U.S. government kept a file on University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole, according to Wired‘s Spencer Ackerman.
Cole, an expert on the Middle East, writes the popular blog Informed Comment where he has often used Arabic news sources to counter the official U.S. Iraq war narrative.
In June, former CIA officer Glenn Carle told The New York Times‘ James Risen that while he was working as a counterterrorism expert for the agency in 2005, the Bush White House asked intelligence officials to uncover sensitive information about Cole on at least two occasions.
Carle said that his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council, David Low, returned from the White House one afternoon in 2005 with instructions to gather information on Cole.
“What do you think we might know about him, or could find out that could discredit him?” Carle recalled Low asking.
CIA spokesman Preston Golson denied the allegations.
“We’ve thoroughly researched our records, and any allegation that the CIA provided private or derogatory information on Professor Cole to anyone is simply wrong,” he said.
“We value the insights of outside experts, including respected academics, who follow many of the same national security topics we do. Diversity of thought is essential to the business of intelligence analysis.”
The ACLU suit seeks disclosure of “federal government discussions of, correspondence regarding, inquiries about, and investigations of Professor Cole.”
“My guess is that there were people in the White House upset by my writing at my blog and elsewhere on the course of the Iraq War, which they consistently attempted to depict in a positive light,” Cole told Ackerman. “They also seem to have been angry that I was taken seriously by intelligence analysts in some of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, and presumably one of their goals was to find ways of discouraging analysts from taking me seriously.”
“The whole point of this [lawsuit] is [to tell the government], ‘If you did do this, come clean and let us know what happened,'” ACLU attorney Katznelson explained. “We want to make sure it never, ever happens again.”