On Tuesday, the Office of the Inspector General of the National Security Agency, which is tasked with investigating potential wrongdoing on the part of the NSA, announced an investigation into “recent allegations that the NSA improperly targeted the communications of a member of the U.S. news media.”
It can be said with near certainty that these allegations are in regards to Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Back in June, during an episode of his program on Fox News, Carlson claimed that a government whistleblower told his team “that the NSA, the National Security Agency, is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air.”
“Now, that’s a shocking claim, and ordinarily we’d be skeptical of it,” Carlson continued. “The whistleblower, who is in a position to know, repeated back to us information about a story that we are working on that could have only come directly from my texts and emails. There’s no other possible source for that information, period.”
NSA Inspector General Robert P. Storch announced in a news release that he would be conducting the review of the NSA’s alleged wrongdoing.
“The National Security Agency Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced that it is conducting a review related to recent allegations that the NSA improperly targeted the communications of a member of the U.S. news media,” Storch wrote.
“The OIG is examining NSA’s compliance with applicable legal authorities and Agency policies and procedures regarding collection, analysis, reporting, and dissemination activities, including unmasking procedures, and whether any such actions were based upon improper considerations.
“If circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider other issues that may arise during the review.”
On June 29, following Carlson’s initial accusations, the NSA put out a statement claiming that “Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the Agency and the NSA has never had any plans to try to take his program off the air.”
A statement from NSA regarding recent allegations: pic.twitter.com/vduE6l6YWg
— NSA/CSS (@NSAGov) June 30, 2021
Many critics of the NSA were quick to point out that this denial didn’t mean much, considering that there are numerous ways for the NSA to spy on American citizens who are not official “intelligence target[s]” of the agency.
The White House’s response to the allegations was equally evasive.
“The NSA as — I think you are well aware, everyone’s aware, everyone on this plane is aware, I should say — is an entity that focuses on foreign threats and individuals who are attempting to do us harm on foreign soil,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters when questioned about the controversy.
“So that is their purview. But beyond that I would point you to the intelligence community,” she said.
Additional sources later told The Record, a cybersecurity publication, that the NSA had been monitoring Carlson’s communications and went as far as to unmask him (unmasking is a process wherein government officials can request the revealing of names obscured on intelligence reports, often for reasons of privacy).
“There was no legitimate national security interest to justify unmasking the name of Tucker Carlson. It was an obvious effort by a legitimate news source to get an interview with Putin. But someone saw the value in leaking that to attempt to smear him and that gave us the abuse of power we saw,” national security expert Jim Hanson told The Western Journal via email.
“Tucker ruined the game by announcing it himself and the Biden Admin was revealed to be using our intelligence capabilities to attack journalists. There seems to be no element of state power the Left will not coopt for partisan purposes.”
It was later revealed by Axios that Carlson had reportedly been attempting to set up an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the time of the spying, which could have been a possible reason for the NSA’s alleged surveillance.
According to Carlson, a second source later confirmed that “the NSA had discovered his attempts to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin and viewed leaking of that information as potentially damaging to his reputation,” independent journalist Glenn Greenwald reported.
Various Republicans then demanded an investigation into the NSA, with Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul sending a letter demanding the director of the National Security Agency take action by launching an investigation into the matter.
Now, months later, those demands are finally being met.
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