A University of Michigan history professor who writes a blog on Middle East affairs wants to examine FBI and CIA files to see if the agencies tried to smear him while George W. Bush was president.
The professor, Juan Cole, and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, in Detroit, for access to the files after getting no response to his request to look at them, Allan Lengel reported on his Tickle the Wire Blog, citing an account in The Detroit Free Press.
The Free Press noted that an article in The New York Times last month in which Glenn L. Carle, a former CIA officer and counter-terrorism official, said the Bush White House sought damaging information on Cole, who was a critic of the Iraq war. “Does he drink? What are his views? Is he married?” Carle’s supervisor supposedly wanted to know. And, “What do you think we might know about him, or could find out, that could discredit him?”
The legal director of the Michigan branch of the ACLU, Michael Steinberg, said, “In a democratic society, the secret police should not be spying on citizens for simply criticizing government policy,” The Free Press said.
The newspaper said the FBI could not be reached for comment, and that a CIA spokesman said his agency does not comment on pending litigation. But last month The Times said George Little, a CIA spokesman said, “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.”