The National Security Agency has confessed that it revealed Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s name, found in conversations it was monitioring, by “unmasking” him, a process through which names are revealed to administration officials when they demand to know them.
Carlson, host of the most-watched cable news show in the United States as of just weeks ago, earlier confirmed to his audience that the NSA of the Biden administration has been spying on him electronically.
That, he explained, appears to be a crime under federal law.
He charged that it appears to be an attempt to gather some sort of information that could be used to take his show off the air.
Tucker, long a critic of the Biden administration, said, “We heard from a whistleblower within the U.S. 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 the show off the air.
“Now that’s a shocking claim and ordinarily we’d be skeptical of it. 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 they do happen. And in this case they did happen,” Carlson confirmed.
Now the NSA, according to a report, has confirmed it did, it fact, reveal Carlson’s name.
The NSA found that Carlson was mentioned in communications between third parties & his name was subsequently revealed through “UNMASKING,” a process in which relevant government officials can request the IDs of Americans in intel reports to be divulged.https://t.co/8UH9YcN1XE
— Martin Matishak (@martinmatishak) July 23, 2021
Reporter Martin Matishak explained the NSA found no evidence that the agency was spying on him “in an effort to knock his show off the air.” And that his communications were not “targeted.”
Nor were, “Carlson’s communications intercepted through ‘incidental collection,’ where the U.S. government sometimes obtains the emails of Americans in contact with a foreign target under surveillance, according to sources.”
The social media statement continued, “The NSA found that Carlson was mentioned in communications between third parties & his name was subsequently revealed through ‘unmasking’, a process in which relevant government officials can request the IDs of Americans in intel reports to be divulged.”
Fox responded with a 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…”
Twitchy posted the social media thread from the Record.
Earlier, a former chief of staff of the National Security Council saod the White House likely was behind the scandal.
Fred Fleitz, who served for 25 years in national security with various agencies, wrote in a column for The Federalist that it’s now known not only that the National Security Agency was monitoring the Fox News host’s electronic communications, but that “either NSA or senior Biden officials leaked information from his communications to the news media in an attempt to smear him.”
He noted an Axios story Wednesday confirmed Carlson’s claim that an NSA whistleblower informed the Fox host that the agency was reading his emails, or transcripts of his phone calls, or both. A law was broken, Fleitz said, because the names of any American citizens incidentally collected by U.S. intelligence must be strictly protected.
However, top U.S. officials are allowed to ask that the names of Americans be unmasked in rare instances, when warranted.
Carlson has claimed that NSA personnel both unmasked his name and leaked it to the media to smear him and take him off the air.
Fleitz said that “as someone who worked for almost 25 years for U.S. intelligence agencies and the House Intelligence Committee staff, it is hard for me to believe NSA would so recklessly break the law.”
Fleitz served in 2018 as deputy assistant to President Trump and chief of staff of the National Security Council. He previously worked for the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, State Department and the House Intelligence Committee staff.
He argued in his column that the only people who know the name of an unmasked person are the small, trusted staff at NSA who are part of the process and the policymaker who made the request.
“The unmasked name is not supposed to be released to other U.S. officials or NSA personnel,” he said.
For those reasons he believes it was a senior White House official who received the name in response to an unmasking request and then leaked the information to hurt Carlson.
“One might ask why a White House official would ever ask to unmask the name of a U.S. journalist? I can’t think of any valid reason. And the potential downside of appearing to spy on a journalist would be huge if such a request ever was made public,” he wrote.
Because the White House and Congress are in Democratic hands, there probably won’t be a serious investigation of what he called “the latest weaponization of an American conservative.”