The National Security Agency’s (NSA) reported internal review of Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s spying allegations suggests that the matter should be investigated further, according to a former NSA general counsel.
Citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter, The Record reported last week that the NSA’s internal review found that government officials had “unmasked” Carlson’s identity in classified documents—supporting some of the claims that the Fox News host has made against the agency.
“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 Record reported.
According to former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker, this report supports the calls for an investigation made by Carlson and others. The report also supports the NSA’s earlier statement that it didn’t “target” Carlson, Baker said.
“So what about NSA/Carlson should be investigated and perhaps disclosed? The unmasking request, mainly. Motive matters. First, the requester should have given a reason for the unmasking. How plausible was it, given the requester’s position?” Baker wrote on Twitter.
“The second question about NSA/Carlson unmasking: How was Carlson identified when masked? ‘US Journalist’? ‘US Citizen’? That will help gauge whether the requester really needed to know the identity behind the mask.
“Traditionally, the intelligence communities would investigate the NSA/Carlson flap with full access to the classified data, and issue a report summarizing the investigation without disclosing the classified information. Not too hard if NSA has already done its own probe.”
Baker, now a partner at Steptoe & Johnson, also said that some aspects of the investigation would need to be protected due to the sensitivity of the intelligence operation. The NSA can’t provide the full context of the Carlson probe without disclosing a target and probably the method of intercept—both highly classified, according to Baker.
Baker didn’t comment further when reached by The Epoch Times, saying that his statements are self-explanatory. The NSA also declined to comment.
Fox News has called the alleged unmasking of Carlson “entirely unacceptable.”
“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 said in a July 24 statement read by Mark Steyn, who was filling in for Carlson on Tucker Carlson Tonight.
The NSA previously denied targeting Carlson in a statement.
“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,” the NSA said at the end of June.
Critics noted at the time that the NSA’s statement didn’t preclude unmasking Carlson or revealing his identity in intercepts from foreign intelligence collection.
Members of Congress, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), have called for an investigation into the matter. Paul also called for the NSA to probe possible leaks, after the outlet Axios reported that Carlson was in communication with Russia regarding a potential interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Carlson subsequently said he had been trying to get an interview with Putin, and he accused the NSA of monitoring his emails.