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NSA now investigating if it spied on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson at a 2018 speech for Turning Point USA. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
August 10, 2021

The National Security Agency (NSA) announced this week it is investigating allegations raised by Fox host Tucker Carlson, that the agency improperly accessed his communications.

On Tuesday, the NSA’s internal inspector general announced a “review related to recent allegations that the NSA improperly targeted the communications of a member of the U.S. news media.” While the announcement did not specifically mention Carlson by name, Carlson’s allegations have been a high-profile charge against the agency since the Fox host first raised the issue in June. A source close to the investigation told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that the review is in fact related to Carlson’s claims.

“We are gratified to learn the NSA’s egregious surveillance of Tucker Carlson will now be independently investigated,” a Fox News spokeswoman also told the Wall Street Journal.

On the June 28 episode of his television show, Carlson said, “Yesterday we heard from a whistleblower within the U.S. government who reached out to warn us that the NSA . . . 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,” Carlson continued. “It is illegal for the NSA to spy on American citizens, it’s a crime. It’s not a third-world country, things like that should not happen in America, but unfortunately do happen and in this case they did happen.”

Carlson said that while he had reason to initially be skeptical of the claim, his government source “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 night after Carlson raised his allegations, the NSA issued a two-paragraph statement, “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 and take his program off the air.”

“NSA has a foreign intelligence mission,” the statement continued. “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.”

While the NSA statement denied Carlson was an intelligence target, Carlson said the agency would not say directly whether or not the agency had read his emails. 

On July 7, just over a week after Carlson raised the allegation that the NSA planned to leak his communications, Axios reported — based on sources familiar with Carlson’s communications — that Carlson had been setting up an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Axios did not say whether its sources included any NSA officials or other people within the federal government or intelligence community.