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Last week, Fox News host Tucker Carlson made big news. Carlson claimed that a whistleblower in the US Intelligence Community had warned him that his text messages had been intercepted. Hilarity ensued as the leftist press threw its collective spine out of joint, attempting to defend the honor of agencies that exist to lie by kissing the fat, pimply posteriors of said agencies.
This is my post on the incident Tucker Carlson’s Spying Claim Matches What We Know About an out of Control Intelligence Community. The NSA responded, but when they did, the response read like they were guilty as hell but were afraid of getting caught in a lie to the American people. Why that would factor in given the behavior of the CIA and NSA in trashing President Trump, I don’t know. See The NSA Response to Tucker Carlson’s Allegations Shows They Are Hiding Something for more details.
Today started with Carlson appearing on Maria Bartiromo’s Mornings With Maria program to reveal still more details.
“Yesterday, I learned that — and this is going to come out soon — that the NSA leaked the contents of my emails to journalists in an effort to discredit me. I know because I got a call from one of them saying ‘oh, this is what your email was about,’ ” Carlson said.
“So, it is not in any way a figment of my imagination. It’s confirmed, it’s true,” he continued, adding that Biden administration is trying to gain “leverage” to threaten “opposition journalists.”
“It’s happening to me right now, and I think it’s shocking and I don’t think we should put up with it in a free country,” he said.
When host Maria Bartiromo asked if there was no way anyone else could have seen the emails, Carlson said the only other person was his executive producer.
He added that just before his show aired on Tuesday, he got a call from a reporter who read the email back to him.
“There is no possibility that anyone else could have known. And then again yesterday I get a call right before air, like 7:15, from a journalist I know and like, not many left, but I do like this person. He repeated back to me what’s in my email, he got it because the NSA leaked it, so, yes, entirely real,” Carlson said.
The NSA declined to comment.
As I said in my original post on the subject, Carlson has too much to lose and nothing to gain by spinning a tale that would inevitably be proven false. The NSA and its cohorts, though, have every incentive to lie about something they know will not come to light because of secrecy and lies.
A short time after the new Carlson allegation, the Intelligence Community seemed to try to get out in front of the story by, in a roundabout way, admitting Carlson has been under surveillance but spinning it to make it seems as though it was legitimate.
New: Tucker Carlson was talking to U.S.-based Kremlin intermediaries about setting up an interview with Putin shortly before he accused the NSA of spying on him. U.S. gov't officials learned of this outreach … but that's where details get cloudy. https://t.co/5kbjMJnQ2r
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) July 7, 2021
This is from the Axios story.
Tucker Carlson was talking to U.S.-based Kremlin intermediaries about setting up an interview with Vladimir Putin shortly before the Fox News host accused the National Security Agency of spying on him, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.
Why it matters: Those sources said U.S. government officials learned about Carlson’s efforts to secure the Putin interview. Carlson learned that the government was aware of his outreach — and that’s the basis of his extraordinary accusation, followed by a rare public denial by the NSA that he had been targeted.
The story is obvious damage control seeded by the Intelligence Community (I’m assuming the NSA) into the story by way of this off-the-record “scoop” given to Jonathan Swan. It is not, however, without its on bizarreness.
It is unclear why Carlson, or his source, would think this outreach could be the basis for NSA surveillance or a motive to have his show canceled.
In the first instance, someone in the IC leaked the information to Carlson along with the ostensible motive. The outreach to Putin was not mentioned until today by the IC.
What’s next: Experts say there are several plausible scenarios — including legal scenarios — that could apply.
- The first — and least likely — scenario is that the U.S. government submitted a request to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Carlson to protect national security.
- A more plausible scenario is that one of the people Carlson was talking to as an intermediary to help him get the Putin interview was under surveillance as a foreign agent.
- In that scenario, Carlson’s emails or text messages could have been incidentally collected as part of monitoring this person, but Carlson’s identity would have been masked in any intelligence reports.
- In order to know that the texts and emails were Carlson’s, a U.S. government official would likely have to request his identity be unmasked, something that’s only permitted if the unmasking is necessary to understand the intelligence.
In a third scenario, interceptions might not have involved Carlson’s communications. The U.S. government routinely monitors the communications of people in Putin’s orbit, who may have been discussing the details of Carlson’s request for an interview.
- But under this scenario, too, Carlson’s identity would have been masked in reports as part of his protections as a U.S. citizen, and unmasking would only be permitted if a U.S. government official requested that his identity be unmasked in order to understand the intelligence. And it’s not clear why that would be necessary here.
None of these scenarios mesh with what Carlson has alleged. A legit unmasking would not result in his emails being offered to another reporter.
It seems that we are back to the bad old days of the Obama era where political enemies of the regime are targeted for espionage, and the results of that espionage used to damage or discredit them.