It is past time to post the documents and links that are relevant to the threatened libel suit from Pacific International Terminals consultant Craig Cole against the Whatcom Watch. Other news media in Bellingham and Seattle have declined to even mention this very important news - and NWCitizen has been criticized by some news writers for breaking this story. Last Wednesday, we posted a basic summary of the issue.
Today, we post the relevant text of the threatening letter. And a couple of the supposedly libelous links. In my opinion, this threat is empty. The Watch did not libel Craig Cole. Not at all. He states in his letter that the Watch committed libel by linking the actions of local anti-Indian groups to Cole’s clients, Pacific International Terminals and Gateway Pacific Terminal, even though Cole has always been supportive of Native Americans. Cole’s name is not mentioned in the article. He also contends that the Watch is spreading the libelous writings of Taber against Cole merely by linking to articles by Jay Taber, and thus the Watch is further guilty of libel. It is interesting that Cole has not threatened to sue either Taber or Taber's publisher.
This appears to me to be a simple case of bullying and attempted intimidation of the Whatcom Watch by Cole. The Watch has been investigating Whatcom County groups and individuals who are saying the Lummi Indians should not have the right to interfere with building the coal port at Cherry Point. Cole is the local front man and public face for the large corporations seeking permits to build the coal terminal. This is what Cole does. So, gentle reader, hopefully you can see how the dots might be connected. But it is legitimate for the Watch to seek out possible connections. It is called journalism and the exercise of a free press.
I think the Whatcom Watch is a champion of independent journalism. I think they were getting close to uncovering what is happening in this county as the coal port project is pushed by huge corporations. Cole is a very savvy and experienced public operator and it is almost beyond belief he would have sent this threatening letter without the backing of his corporate clients.
Here are three clips of the relevant text of Craig Cole’s threat. You can download the entire letter as a pdf at the link below this article. Also linked is his second letter of Feb 9 wherein he makes clear that Jay Taber’s writings are upsetting to him. Yet there is no threat of a libel suit against Taber. Only against the local newspaper that is investigating and printing news about the proposed coal terminal. Bottom line, the Watch could be forced out of business because of the expense of a lawsuit.
Below also is a link to one of Jay Taber's posts, mentioned in Craig's letter. On the IC Magazine site you can find other articles by Jay Taber by clicking on his name as author at the linked article.