NSA Calls BS on Carlson Claim it Spied On Him
Eavesdroppers says Tucker "never been an intelligence target of the agency"
Tucker Carlson claimed Monday that his previous effort to interview Vladimir Putin had been blocked by a U.S. intelligence agency that was monitoring his texts and emails.
“I’ve been trying for three years to do this interview,” Carlson said at the World Governments Summit in Dubai in his first remarks since he broadcast his conversation with the Russian president. “The U.S. government prevented me from doing it by spying on my text messages and leaking them to The New York Times. And that spooked the Russian government into canceling the interview.”
Carlson appeared to be referring to claims he broadcast on Fox News nearly three years ago that his communications were being monitored by the National Security Agency. The NSA did not immediately respond to a message left by SpyTalk seeking comment.
Carlson told viewers of his popular show on Fox News in June 2021 that a “whistleblower” had contacted his show and claimed 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.” 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 e-mails,” Carlson said. “There's no other possible source for that information. Period.”
The NSA issued a rare public denial. The eavesdropping agency said Carlson’s allegations were untrue. “Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the agency and the NSA has never had any plans to to try to take his program off the air,” the NSA said in a statement.
According to a report in The Record, a cybersecurity news site, the NSA picked up communications between “third parties” that mentioned Carlson. Two people familiar with the matter declined to comment on who mentioned Carlson in their communications.
Carlson’s name was intelligence anonymized in intelligence reporting as a matter of routine, but was subsequently revealed through “unmasking.” A senior U.S. official requested to unmask or reveal Carlson’s identity after making a showing of a demonstrable need related to security concerns. Officials make thousands of unmasking requests every year.
"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 Fox News spokesperson told The Record.
Axios reported that Carlson had been talking to “US-based Kremlin intermediaries” about interviewing Putin shortly before he accused the NSA of intercepting his communications. Anya Parampil, a reporter for the far-left news site The Grazyone, later identified herself as one of those "intermediaries." Parampil said she arranged an email introduction in April 2021 between Carlson and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergey Ryabkov.
The NSA’s inspector general, Robert Storch, announced in August 2021 that his organization was opening an investigation into Carlson’s allegations.
“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,” Storch said in a statement.
Neither Putin nor Carlson made any mention of a previous interview attempt in the Russian president’s rambling two-hour talk—Putin’s first with a Westerner since the invasion of Ukraine. The Russian president appeared more fixated on the CIA, which he accused without evidence of blowing up the Nord Stream pipeline and trying to overthrow his government. Putin also showed he had done his homework on Carlson. He described the CIA as “the organization you wanted to join back in the day, as I understand. Maybe we should thank God they didn’t let you in. Although it is a serious organization I understand.”
Carlson has acknowledged that in 1991 he was turned down for a job at the CIA after graduating from Trinity College in Connecticut.
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