The Senate Intelligence Committee will review allegations President George W. Bush's administration sought intelligence on a University of Michigan professor and critic of the Iraq war in an effort to smear him.
"The committee is looking into this," chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Friday in a statement. "Depending on what we find, we may take further action."
U-M professor Juan Cole, a prominent Middle East expert, called Thursday for congressional investigations following allegations from an ex-CIA official the Bush White House wanted "to get" Cole and sought damaging information about him in 2005, according to a New York Times report.
Cole, who has run a popular blog called Informed Comment, lashed out in a video and written posts on his blog, calling it "outrageous" the Bush administration would divert CIA resources to not only spy on an American on U.S. soil but direct the agency to destroy his reputation. Such actions are "illegal every which way from Sunday," Cole posted.
The CIA has denied the allegations and officials say they value diversity of thought from outside experts.
"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," Marie E. Harf, Central Intelligence Agency spokeswoman, said in a statement.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, who chairs the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, did not announce a similar investigation.
"Congressman Rogers is aware of the news report, but the Department of Justice is the most appropriate venue to respond to any criminal allegations," Rogers' spokesman, Dave Yonkman, said in a statement.
The Justice Department wouldn't comment on whether it would investigate.
Cole has been a sought-after Middle East expert and, according to a senior intelligence official, has spoken at CIA conferences during the Bush and Obama administrations. U-M's provost, watching the developments of the case, called Cole a renowned scholar, popular teacher and valued member of the community.
"While professor Cole's views are his own, the university steadfastly and unequivocally stands behind the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression," U-M Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Phil Hanlon said in a statement.
Writing on his blog, Cole said he believes the allegations of the ex-CIA official, Glenn Carle, who authored the new book, "The Interrogator: An Education."
"Carle's revelations come as a visceral shock," Cole wrote.
What's most alarming, Cole wrote, is "I am a relatively small fish" and it's "rather likely that I was not the only target of the baleful team at the White House.
"…You wonder how many critics were effectively 'destroyed.'