CIA spies on US professor

A former CIA official says he was asked to get information that would discredit a critic of the Iraq War.
A former senior official at the CIA says he was “intensely disturbed” by attempts from his superiors to seek out damaging information on a university professor that criticized the Iraq War on his blog.

Former CIA officer Glenn L. Carle says that the White House asked intelligence officials to gather information at least twice on Juan Cole, a professor at the University of Michigan. Cole says on his website that he tries to do his “best to provide an independent and informed perspective on Middle Eastern and American politics.” The site has been regularly updated since 2002.

Speaking to The New York Times, Carle says that White House officials and his superiors at the CIA made it clear to him that they were out “to get” Professor Cole. Carle claims that he refused to attempt to obtain information on the professor, saying that it would be unlawful. While the CIA may be able to provide the White House with material obtained from public databases or published works, attempts to discredit a political critic, as Carle alleges, would be improper.

Carle tells The Times that his supervisor, David Low, asked him to gather information on Cole after returning from a White House meeting. Carle alleges that Low asked, “What do you think we might know about him, or could find out that could discredit him?’

“Does he drink? What are his views? Is he married?”

After refusing, Carle claims he came across materials from Low in which the CIA official penned a memo about the blogger that included, according to Carle, “inappropriate, derogatory remarks” about his Cole's lifestyle.

Later on, Carle says that a colleague of his was also mysteriously directed to gather information on Professor Cole.

CIA officials have confirmed that they were indeed curious about Cole, but that they sent out emails about him in order to find out why the professor had been invited to CIA-sponsored conferences.

Carle, however, claims he recalls Low saying, “The White House wants to get him.”

Carle retired from the CIA in 2007 and only new discussed the ordeal with The Times. Professor Cole still maintains his blog and instructs at the University of Michigan.