Posted by Matthew Rothschild on June 16, 2011

Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan has just responded to the news that he was a target of CIA spying.

As The New York Times just reported, the Bush-Cheney White House sicced the CIA on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor whose blog postings about the Iraq War it didn’t appreciate.

According to the article, the White House wanted the CIA to dig up some dirt on Cole so as to discredit him, and the agency dutifully drafted a memo with “inappropriate, derogatory remarks” about Cole, one former CIA employee told the Times.

On his Informed Comment blog, Cole said the revelation came as “a visceral shock.” You’d have thought, he wrote, “with all the shenanigans of the CIA against anti-Vietnam war protesters and then Nixon’s use of the agency against critics like Daniel Ellsberg, that the Company and successive White Houses would have learned that the agency had no business spying on American citizens.”

Cole fears he’s not the only American citizen that the Bush-Cheney White House sicced the CIA on.

“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,” he wrote.

Cole says the White House smearing may have succeeded in blacklisting him from some conferences he used to attend.

“Apparently one of the purposes of spying on me to discredit me, from the point of view of the Bush White House, was ironically to discourage Washington think tanks from inviting me to speak to the analysts, not only of the CIA but also the State Department Intelligence and Research and other officials concerned with counter-terrorism and with Iraq,” he wrote. “It seemed likely to some colleagues, according to what they told me, that the Bush administration had in fact succeeded in having me blackballed, since the invitations rather dropped off, and panels of a sort I had earlier participated in were being held without my presence.”

He expressed outrage at “the nakedly illegal deployment of the CIA against an academic for the explicit purpose of destroying his reputation for political purposes,” adding: “It is sad that a politics of personal destruction was the response by the Bush White House to an attempt of a citizen to reason in public about a matter of great public interest.”

He called the spying “an effort to gut the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

Cole called on Congress “to immediately launch an investigation.”

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