Fox News: “For the NSA to unmask Tucker Carlson or any journalist attempting to secure a newsworthy interview is entirely unacceptable”
A month ago, Fox News host Tucker Carlson reported that a whistleblower who was “in a position to know” had reached out to him to alert him that the National Security Agency (NSA) was “monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take the show off the air.”
In response to Carlson’s report, the NSA issued a vague denial the following day which the discerning reader will note didn’t actually deny the spying claim:
A statement from NSA regarding recent allegations: pic.twitter.com/vduE6l6YWg
— NSA/CSS (@NSAGov) June 30, 2021
Tucker Carlson was talking to U.S.-based Kremlin intermediaries about setting up an interview with Vladimir Putin shortly before the Fox News host accused the National Security Agency of spying on him, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.
Why it matters: Those sources said U.S. government officials learned about Carlson’s efforts to secure the Putin interview. Carlson learned that the government was aware of his outreach — and that’s the basis of his extraordinary accusation, followed by a rare public denial by the NSA that he had been targeted.
In an update to this story published Friday, “two people familiar with the matter” told The Record that an NSA investigation into Carlson’s claims “found no evidence to support” the spying allegation but did confirm he was unmasked:
An examination by the spy agency, prompted by congressional inquiries, found that the Fox News host’s communications were not targeted — as the NSA has previously stated publicly — nor intercepted through so-called “incidental collection,” where the U.S. government sometimes obtains the emails or phone calls of Americans in contact with a foreign target under surveillance, according to these people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Correspondence between intelligence agencies and oversight authorities are conducted through classified means.
Instead, the nation’s top electronic spy agency found that Carlson was mentioned in communications between third parties and his name was subsequently revealed through “unmasking,” a process in which relevant government officials can request the identities of American citizens in intelligence reports to be divulged provided there is an official reason, such as helping them make sense of the intelligence documents they are reviewing.
Something smells here. Remember, Carlson stated when he first reported on the story that the whistleblower – who he said works “within the U.S. government” – “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.” That doesn’t just sound like unmasking. That sounds like spying.
Mark Steyn filled in for Carlson on Friday’s show and both he and civil rights attorney Harmeet Dhillon agreed that there were inconsistencies in the NSA’s spying denial based both on their earlier statement and on Carlson pointing out a month ago that there was no way the NSA would have had the specific information they had on him without his texts and emails:
Dhillon: “I’m not buying it. I think that what they’re saying now is inconsistent with what they’ve said before. And it’s also inconsistent with the facts as Tucker has revealed them. For example, Tucker said on his show on several nights that a source within the government came to him and read out several of Tucker’s texts and messages.
And so, what the government is allegedly saying today is that the unmasking occurred regarding third parties talking with one another about Tucker Carlson. Okay, so that’s inconsistent with them intercepting Tucker Carlson.
Number two, there’s only a handful of people in the United States government who have the ability and the right to unmask people. And that right was widely abused during the end of the Obama administration 2016, and I am afraid it’s being abused right now. And so, this raises more questions than it answers. And I think that we really need to be looking at reining in the abuses in the national security community of these types of issues, and no American journalist should be surveilled this way.
And finally, these types of communications must never be leaked to the media. Axios had these communications. So, they haven’t answered that. How did that happen?”
In response to The Record’s story, Fox News issued this statement:
“For the NSA to unmask Tucker Carlson or any journalist attempting to secure a newsworthy interview is entirely unacceptable and raises serious questions about their activities as well as their original denial, which was wildly misleading.”
No doubt Tucker Carlson will have a lot more to say on this story when he returns to his hosting duties. Stay tuned.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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