On Tuesday, the Office of the Inspector General of the NSA announced an investigation had been launched into allegations that the Biden administration used the agency to spy on Carlson.
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The NSA IG, which is tasked with investigating corruption and criminal activity within the agency, announced a probe into “recent allegations that the NSA improperly targeted the communications of a member of the U.S. news media.”
As News Punch first reported, Carlson claims that the NSA was not only spying on him but was also leaking his emails to left-wing journalists in order for them to write hit pieces designed to destroy his career.
“Now, that’s a shocking claim, and ordinarily we’d be skeptical of it,” Carlson told viewers.
“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.”
“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 in a statement.
“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 hastily issued 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.”
Dailymail.co.uk reports: The NSA said in a statement to DailyMail.com it was committed to the IG’s ‘rigorous and independent oversight.’
‘NSA remains fully committed to the rigorous and independent oversight provided by the NSA Inspector General’s office,’ the statement said.
‘The OIG plays a critical role in our Agency’s mission by overseeing the activities of NSA/CSS and providing recommendations that continue to promote effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability within the Agency.’
A Fox News spokesperson welcomed the investigation into the ‘entirely unacceptable’ and ‘egregious surveillance’ of Carlson in a statement to DailyMail.com.
‘We are gratified to learn the NSA’s egregious surveillance of Tucker Carlson will now be independently investigated,’ they said.
‘As we have said, 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.’
Fox had previously slammed the NSA when it emerged Carlson had fallen foul to unmasking.
‘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,’ the network said in the statement on July 23.
Unmasking is where government officials ask for the identities of Americans to be revealed in order to help them make sense of intelligence documents they are dealing with.
The names of Americans are obscured in NSA intelligence documents to protect their privacy.
Only senior officials can request unmasking, and each request is reviewed by officials at the agency that generated the intelligence report.
Two people familiar with the matter told cybersecurity news outlet The Record that a review confirmed the NSA did not target the Fox News host’s communications, but that he had been swept up in the agency’s monitoring of communications between other people.
The report didn’t say why Carlson’s identity had been unmasked and didn’t say what the agency might have found or done with the information it collected.
The report didn’t identify the two parties allegedly having a conversation that mentioned Carlson; it also didn’t identify who approved the alleged unmasking.
In the review, according to the report, the agency claimed it found that Carlson’s communications were neither targeted by the agency nor intercepted through ‘incidental collection’ – where the government can obtain the emails and phone calls of Americans if they are in contact with a foreign actor under surveillance.
Instead, the review found Carlson had been mentioned in communications between third parties and his name was then revealed through ‘unmasking,’ the sources said.
The sources said the spy agency has shared the findings of the review with both the House and Senate Intelligence committees, after lawmakers ordered an investigation into the allegations.
The damning admission brought into question the agency’s June statement that it hadn’t been monitoring Carlson.
Carlson announced on his show on June 28 that he learned of the alleged spying thanks to ‘a whistleblower within the US government who reached out to warn us 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.’
Carlson said the whistleblower ‘repeated back to us information about a story that we are working on that could have only come directly from my texts and emails.’
He added: ‘The Biden administration is spying on us. We have confirmed that.’
The NSA on June 29 responded with a highly unusual statement denying the targeting of Carlson, but not denying that his communications were incidentally collected.
The intelligence agency does not normally comment on its activities.
They tweeted: ‘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.
‘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.’
On July 7, Carlson then said he was trying to arrange an interview with Putin at the time of the alleged spying.
He claimed his communications were intercepted by the NSA, his identity ‘unmasked’ and the content of his emails and texts then disseminated, in a bid to discredit him.
‘Late this spring I contacted a couple of people I thought could help get an interview with the Russian President Vladimir Putin,’ Carlson told his viewers.
‘I told nobody I was doing this other than my executive producer, Justin Wells,’ Carlson said.
‘I wasn’t embarrassed about trying to interview Putin. He’s obviously newsworthy. I’m an American citizen, I can interview anyone I want, and I plan to.
‘But still in this case I decided to keep it quiet. I figure that any kind of publicity would rattle the Russians and make the interview less likely to happen.
‘But the Biden administration found out anyway by reading my emails.’
Carlson said that, despite telling no one, apart from his producer, news of his efforts soon spread around Washington DC.
‘I learned from a whistle-blower that the NSA planned to leak the contents of those emails to media outlets,’ he said.
He argued that even if his emails and texts were incidentally intercepted – and that he himself was not a target – his identity should have been kept secret.
He demanded that Paul Nakasone, the director of the NSA, or Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, explain who requested the ‘unmasking’ of him, and why.
The interview with Putin never materialized.
Carlson said he had been approached at a funeral in Washington DC by someone who told him of the spying.
‘Why would they do that? ‘Well, the point, of course, was to paint me as a disloyal American, a Russian operative. I’ve been called that before, ‘ he said.
‘A stooge of the Kremlin, a traitor doing the bidding of a foreign adversary.’
Carlson’s claims set off a firestorm among conservatives.
Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican Leader, said that Carlson’s claims ‘raise serious questions about the NSA’s practices’ and called on Devin Nunes, the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to investigate.
Nunes has previously launched a probe into unmasking which found no evidence of wrongdoing.
It is still unclear how Carlson learned that his name may have been mentioned in intelligence documents.
However, an ex-government official put forward two possible scenarios.
The first is that Carlson may have been offered a defensive briefing by FBI officials after his name was unmasked to warn him he may be a potential target of a foreign government, the official told The Record.
While such briefings would not reveal any details about how the information was obtained, Carlson may have assumed this meant he was being spied on.
The official said the other alternative is that information was leaked to Carlson by someone in the country’s intelligence agencies.
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