Professor denied appointment at Yale sues CIA and FBI

Juan Cole, a noted Middle East expert and outspoken critic of the Israeli government who was denied a faculty appointment at Yale in 2006, sued the CIA and FBI on Wednesday.

The University of Michigan history professor and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed a case asking for the “immediate expedited processing” of Freedom of Information Act requests for documents pertaining to Cole that they submitted to the CIA, FBI, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Department of Justice on June 23. The lawsuit marks an attempt by Cole to determine whether the George W. Bush administration sought to discredit him and if the CIA spied on him illegally.

“The CIA is specifically forbidden, in its charter and by statute, from spying on American citizens,” Cole told the News in an email earlier this month, prior to going to court. “It is shocking because it shows how criminal and insecure the Bush White House was.”

Neither the CIA nor the FBI had responded to the initial FOIA requests, Cole wrote on his blog, prompting him and the ACLU to launch the lawsuit.

“At the heart of this action is whether the CIA, FBI and other agencies undertook an investigation of a U.S. citizen for the simple fact that he was a critic of U.S. government policy,” ACLU lawyers Michael Steinberg and Zachary Katznelson wrote in their complaint. “Such a chilling of First Amendment freedoms, if it did in fact take place, would send shock waves through the public arena, threatening to limit the open debate that makes our democracy strong.”

The lawsuit was filed just one week after Yale rejected a request from the Middle East Studies Association for an investigation into whether the Bush administration influenced Yale’s decision to reject Cole’s appointment in 2006.

MESA had already contacted then-Provost Andrew Hamilton in June 2006 to voice concerns that political pressure had prevented Cole’s appointment, but Hamilton replied ten days later that “an individual’s political views are never taken into account in making appointment decisions.” The organization renewed its efforts on Cole’s behalf after the New York Times reported June 15 that a former senior C.I.A. official claimed members of the Bush administration had attempted to discredit Cole.

Provost Peter Salovey said in a July 7 letter to MESA President Suad Joseph that there was “no evidence of inappropriate external interference or other impropriety” in Cole’s appointment decision, and that no one from the government or the Bush administration had contacted Salovey, Levin or the deans overseeing the appointment process.

Despite his assurances, the deliberations surrounding Cole’s appointment decision have long been questioned by Yale faculty members.

Cole was initially selected for a tenured professorship in modern Middle East studies by a University search committee and approved by both the Sociology and History Departments. But the Senior Appointments Committee, an interdepartmental body that reviews appointments to tenured positions, ultimately voted against offering Cole the job.

“The decision to not appoint Juan Cole was a political decision, whether you’re for Juan Cole or against Juan Cole,” said a professor in the History Department, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he previously received a threat for speaking in Cole’s favor. “[Professors] tried to portray this guy Juan Cole as an anti-Semite and an anti-American.”

The appointment met intense opposition in the History Department, said Glenda Gilmore, a history professor who supported Cole’s appointment. Gilmore said she was willing to discuss the History Department faculty vote only because the results of the vote had already been leaked by one or more faculty members immediately following the meeting in 2006. Conservative bloggers Scott Johnson and Michael Rubin both published the results of the vote on May 10, 2006.

Thirteen professors voted to approve the appointment, seven opposed it and three abstained from the vote.

Gilmore said the opposition was led in an organized fashion by “one history professor who had associations with Bush and the Bush White House,” and she said she thought the presentations arguing against the appointment given by about six professors seemed coordinated.

“They seemed to be following a script as one by one they brought up different issues,” she said.

While Yale was considering the appointment, a stream of editorials in various publications criticized the potential appointment, often arguing that the content of Cole’s blog made him unfit for the professorship.

The Senior Appointments Committee ultimately rejected Cole’s candidacy on June 2, 2006.

Comments

  • The Anti-Yale

    It seems that anyone or anything to do with the Middle East is surrounded by paranoia and claims of oppression on all sides of any issue involving the word “Israel” or the word “Palestine”

    5000 years old grudges do not bode well for the future. Even George Mitchell gave up.

    When will this insane hatred end?

  • attila

    Bad (because insipid):

    It seems that anyone or anything to do with the Middle East is surrounded by paranoia and claims of oppression on all sides of any issue involving the word “Israel” or the word “Palestine”
    5000 years old grudges do not bode well for the future. Even George Mitchell gave up.
    When will this insane hatred end?

    Good:

    Cole should grow up. Perhaps he lost the Yale job because of political issues. The should never happen. But the only reason he had any support at Yale was for his political views. He’s a mindless hack, a left-wing poser. No serious department would accept his “scholarship” as credentials for a tenured job. Thank God the appointments committee put a stop to it.

  • Hieronymus’ Bosh

    That the YDN would deign to PRINT the ravings of Glenda Gilmore (forget the poor reporter having to *listen* to them) shows not just a lack of sense but a lack of history. Correct me if I am wrong, YDN: Was it not Ms. Gilmore that threatened to sue YDN for its chatboards, leading to their silence for several years? Anyone recall the details of…. why? (I think someone else wrote of paranoia, but left out the Left’s *love* of free speech, except when they disagree with what is said… kinda like, oh… some Marxists I know…).

    Hey, Glinda: How’s that anti-war stance now that W’s out of office, eh? Been protestin’ all of The One’s many little wars or are his somehow more… acceptable (perhaps given that he avoids seeking permission and like that…). Just wondering.

    Oh, wait: I hope I don’t get the YDN in trouble for using the words Gilmore and Marxist in a post about Juan Cole!

  • Arafat

    5,000 year old grudges? You’ve got your dates a little messed up.

    In any case Muslim’s hatred of Jews go back to Islam’s cruel prophet Mohammed’s time. He hated Jews because they would not submit to his commands and refused to convert to Islam. Mohammed and his men beheaded over 600 Jewish men and boys at Qurayza.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgC2urZUTDA

    And the Qur’an is filled with hate speech against Judaism.

    http://frontpagemag.com/2009/12/08/the-persistence-of-islamic-anti-semitism-by-robert-spencer/

    It is little wonder Muslims have invaded Israel a half dozen times since thats states founding.

  • tonykez

    To: Arafat

    What is the point of the “youtube” video of Khomeini? It is in Fasri; do you speak Farsi? All it is talking about is the mistakes the Iranian people made during the 1979 Iranian revolution and how it should have been done differently.

  • Skeptic

    Unfortunately, Yale’s History Dept has some pretty rabid ideologues on both sides.. but as a close observer, I would say the right wingers are a bit more intolerant and sometimes nearly vicious.

  • Arafat

    tonykez,

    My apologies for pasting the wrong link. My intention was to paste a link describing Mohammed’s murderous rampage agains the Jews of Qurayza to give a historical insight into the orgins of Islamic hatred against Jews. Sorry for the mistake.

  • attila

    Hard for me to believe there is anyone on the right as intolerant and vicious as Glenda Gilmore.

  • joey00

    WOW , I almost forgot my password.It’s been a while since the YDN published a story . Even more frightening is what was i doing checking in on them ,when we all knew they would return Aug.26 or so.
    To Hieronymous Bosh , Oh if you only knew what a reporter listens to and ignores , has to read or just deletes.
    Hey is this Mr.Cole related to our own State of Ct Mental Health’s Official Cole ? They sort of lookalike.
    Throw in Atty Cole from the Stamford office , nice folks , yeah right really

  • JoNathan

    Sue. Threaten. Yawn.

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