In a story that harks back to the bad old days of intelligence abuses, a former CIA spook says he and another agency staffer were asked by Bush administration officials to dig up the dirt on Mideast scholar, Iraq war critic and Truthdig columnist Juan Cole.

One official named by the former spy, who served on the National Intelligence Council after a long career in clandestine service, denies the accusation.

For his part, Cole told The New York Times that he would make a poor target for thrill-seeking spooks: “They must have been dismayed at what a boring life I lead.”

The incidents in question are supposed to have taken place in 2005.

As you know, it is illegal for the CIA to spy on Americans.

After the agent, Glenn Carle, rebuffed a request to find information about Cole, he says he discovered a memo from his NIC superior with derogatory remarks about Cole and further evidence that someone in the administration was leaning on a different source in the CIA. — PZS

The New York Times:

Several months after the initial incident, Mr. Carle said, a colleague on the National Intelligence Council asked him to look at an e-mail he had just received from a C.I.A. analyst. The analyst was seeking advice about an assignment from the executive assistant to the spy agency’s deputy director for intelligence, John A. Kringen, directing the analyst to collect information on Professor Cole.

Mr. Carle said his colleague, whom he declined to identify, was puzzled by the e-mail. Mr. Carle, though, said he tracked Mr. Kringen’s assistant down in the C.I.A. cafeteria.

“Have you read his stuff?” Mr. Carle recalled the assistant saying about Professor Cole. “He’s really hostile to the administration.”

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