That's what the New York Times is reporting, based solely on the allegations of one former CIA officer. Glenn Carle, who was at the agency for 23 years, told the Times the Bush White House asked the CIA to collect "damaging personal information" on University of Michigan professor and deranged conspiracy-monger Juan Cole, apparently because the administration was concerned about Cole's criticism of the Iraq war:
In an interview, Mr. Carle said his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council told him in 2005 that White House officials wanted "to get" Professor Cole, and made clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to collect information about him, an effort Mr. Carle rebuffed. Months later, Mr. Carle said, he confronted a C.I.A. official after learning of another attempt to collect information about Professor Cole. Mr. Carle said he contended at the time that such actions would have been unlawful.
It's an entertaining article to say the least, but the Times wasn't able to get anyone, including other CIA officials, to corroborate Carle's story. There are a few key pieces of information the Times leaves out. One is that Carle's soon-to-be-released book (which the Times only mentions in passing), is about Carle's disillusionment with the CIA and the war on terror. Here's what Lawrence Wilkerson has to say about the book, in an endorsement on Carle's website:
"In The Interrogator, Glenn Carle has done more than simply lift a part of the curtain behind which are lurking despicable men such as John Yoo and Douglas Feith, he has turned the stage lights on those who stand out front and continue to receive rave reviews from the rabid right wing, men such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. But most of all, Carle's moving and emotional story—in spite of CIA redactions to the text—has exposed us all, from the CIA officers who turned a blind eye, to the cabinet members who should have known better, to the American people themselves because they allowed such people to corrupt our nation. I know; I was one of them."
Sounds like Carle isn't a big fan of the Bush administration. It might have been helpful for the Times to include that piece of background in its article. The Times also avoids the obvious question, which is why would the Bush administration use CIA manpower to dig up dirt to discredit Juan Cole, when they could have easily found the same information by looking at his delusional online ramblings?