The inspector general for the National Security Agency announced Tuesday that his office has opened a probe related to recent allegations that the NSA illegally spied on Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
NSA Inspector General Robert P. Storch confirmed that his office “is conducting a review related to recent allegations that the NSA improperly targeted the communications of a member of the U.S. news media.”
The NSA Office of Inspector General, or 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,” said Mr. Storch, who was appointed to the watchdog job by former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
“If circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider other issues that may arise during the review,” Mr. Storch said in a letter that his office shared online.
The announcement does not specifically mention Mr. Carlson by name, but it came a little more than a month since the Fox News host first accused the NSA of illegally monitoring his emails.
“We are gratified to learn the NSA‘s egregious surveillance of Tucker Carlson will now be independently investigated,” a Fox News spokesperson told The Washington Times later Tuesday.
In early July, Mr. Carlson said his emails about trying to arrange an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin had been intercepted by the NSA and that their contents were then leaked to a reporter.
The NSA has denied targeting the conservative commentator. Mr. Carlson argues his identity should not have been known to NSA analysts and shared with people outside the agency as he alleges, however.
“By law, the NSA is required to keep secret the identities of American citizens who have been caught up in its vast domestic spying operations,” the host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” said last month.
“So, by law, I should have been identified internally merely as a U.S. journalist or American journalist. That’s the law. But that’s not how I was identified. I was identified by name. I was unmasked. People in the building learned who I was, and then my name and the contents of my emails left that building at the NSA and wound up with a news organization in Washington. That is illegal,” he said.
It was not clear when the NSA inspector general’s office intended for the review to end.
“As we have said, 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,” said the Fox News spokesperson.
Previously, Sen. Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote Director of National Intelligence Avril D. Haines last week requesting she investigate Mr. Carlson‘s claims.