The threat of internal critics over war and conflict

Now we know the Bush administration wanted personal information on leading Iraq war critic Juan Cole (who knew that writing a popular blog was such a threat to the US government?)

The former CIA agent who revealed this information, Glenn Carle, tells Democracy Now! why he was deeply concerned by the White House request and the obvious question remains; how many other dissidents of the “war on terror” have been followed, harassed or violated (in the US and also here in Australia)?

AMY GOODMAN: Why Professor Juan Cole? There were so many and are so many critics of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why were they singling out him? Or, should I say, were they singling out him? Were you requested to do this on a regular basis?

GLENN CARLE: Yeah, well, that’s—it’s a question that comes to mind, of course, and people have asked me before. I only know what I know. And I don’t mean to quote Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, or paraphrase him. I know the facts concerning Professor Cole, and the instances that have been reported, they are accurate. That’s what I experienced. I don’t know of any other specific person.

I do know the context of tension and hostility between the Bush administration and the intelligence community, and more broadly, any critic of their policies. And the context at the time was intensely—well, it was extremely tense and quite partisan. The politics, we try to stay out of; in the intelligence community, of course, we cannot. And this was happening at a time when there was the whole Valerie Plame incident, Joe Wilson. One of my colleagues on the National Intelligence Council totally, without any intention or desire on his part, became embroiled in the presidential reelection campaign, when an offhand—not offhand, an off-the-record innocuous remark he made was seized by the administration as proof that the intelligence community was trying to undermine its policies. Nothing was further from the truth. He had been asked simply, “Didn’t the intelligence community know that there would be or assess there would be ethnic sectarian strife in Iraq in the event of an invasion?” And essentially, his answer was, “Well, yes.” But that was viewed as treasonous. So that was the larger context.