OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Rest assured everyone, the National Security Agency (NSA) has investigated itself and found that it did not do anything wrong.
Wouldn’t that be fantastic, if we could just investigate ourselves and say we found no evidence that we did anything wrong? “Officer, I checked, and I was not speeding.”
But that is precisely what the NSA did as it investigated allegations made by Fox News host Tucker Carlson that the agency had spied on him and Fox News responded furiously, The Record reported.
The NSA has found no evidence to support Tucker Carlson’s accusations that the agency had been spying on him in an effort to knock his show off the air, two people familiar with the matter told The Record.
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.
The NSA obscures the names of Americans mentioned in its finished products in an effort to protect their privacy.
But the NSA still did not say who mentioned Carlson in their communications.
“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,” a spokesperson Fox News said to The Record.
The NSA responded to the claims in June, after Carlson made them, and its denial was pretty weak.
“On June 28, 2021, Tucker Carlson alleged that the National Security Agency has been ‘monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air.’ This allegation is untrue. Tucker 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,” it said.
“NSA has a foreign intelligence mission. We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that could harm the United States. With limited exceptions (e.g. an emergency), NSA may not target a US citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting,” it said.
It was the day prior to that statement that Carlson made the stunning claims.
“The Biden administration is spying on us. We have confirmed that. This morning, we filed an employer request asking for all information that the NSA and other agencies have gathered about the show. We did it mostly as a formality and contact of the press office of both NSA and the FBI you don’t expect to hear much back, that’s the way that usually goes. Only Congress can force transparency on the intelligence agencies and they should do that immediately. Spying on opposition journalists is incompatible with democracy,” the host said.
“They are doing it to us and again, they are definitely doing it to us, they are almost certainly doing it to others. This is scary and we need to stop it right away,” he said.