Fox News’ Tucker Carlson dropped a bombshell on his show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” this week, claiming the National Security Agency is monitoring his private emails and has plans to leak them in an effort to get Mr. Carlson booted from the air.
Mr. Carlson was notified of the NSA’s alleged actions by a whistleblower and said the evidence provided to him was compelling enough to make the charge.
“The whistleblower, who is in a position to know, 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,” Mr. Carlson said Monday evening. “The NSA captured that information without our knowledge and did it for political reasons. The Biden administration is spying on us. We have confirmed that.”
Pundits from across the political spectrum cast immediate doubt on Mr. Carlson’s claims. Press freedom groups stayed silent. The Washington Post ran a column saying even Fox News didn’t believe Mr. Carlson and CNN called Mr. Carlson’s assertion an “abject failure of Fox News leadership.”
Yet, given what we know about the Federal Bureau of Investigations overzealous approach to apprehend Jan. 6 protesters, the Biden administration’s elevation of domestic extremism as the nation’s top threat, and the deep state’s willingness to lie about their surveillance actions — what makes Mr. Carlson’s allegations so outrageous?
Last month, President Biden’s White House released the first national strategy devoted solely to combatting domestic terrorism after what his administration and many in media view, a “resurgence in far-right violent extremism,” that percolated in the Trump-era and resulted in “a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol,” according to the words of The Washington Post.
The strategy calls for “new spending at the Justice Department and FBI to hire analysts, investigators and prosecutors; greater information-sharing between the federal government and state and local partners as well as with tech companies; and addressing the factors contributing to the problem, such as systemic racism,” The Post reported.
Sounds like a massive surveillance operation on American patriots. And, Mr. Carlson, with his frequent rants about the inequities of justice being served between the Jan. 6 protesters and Antifa rioters, broadcast to millions of conservatives on the No. 1 rated cable television program in the nation, would be a perfect target for such a sting.
The NSA, in a statement released Tuesday — just as Mr. Carlson’s show went on air — said Mr. 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,” and it reiterated it had a “foreign intelligence mission.” Mr. Carlson fired back calling the NSA’s statement “an entire paragraph of lies written purely for the benefit of the intel community’s lackeys at CNN and MSNBC.”
Now, it wouldn’t be the first time the intel community has lied. It was Edward Snowden who exposed how the NSA was secretly collecting and building a vast database of millions of Americans’ telephone records, violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Up until the moment Mr. Snowden’s revelations were published by the Guardian newspaper in 2013, top U.S. intelligence officials publicly declared the NSA never knowingly collected information on U.S. citizens.
James Clapper, who is now a CNN contributor but was the Director of National Intelligence in 2013, straight out lied about the surveillance program under oath during a Senate hearing. When asked by Sen. Ron Wyden in March of 2013 about whether the NSA collects “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans,” Mr. Clapper responded, “No sir. Not wittingly.” Three months later, Mr. Snowden’s revelations were published.
Then there was the illegal surveillance of Carter Page, a Trump campaign operative, in 2016. An inspector general at the Department of Justice found the FBI doctored a document to be used in the agency’s application for a FISA surveillance warrant on Mr. Page, made statements that left an “inaccurate impression” and withheld potentially exculpatory information. So essentially, the FBI knowingly lied on its FISA application all in order to spy on an American citizen. Officials within the FBI were adamant up until the time the IG report was released in 2019, that they would never abuse their power.
Lastly, back in 2014, Sen. Dianne Feinstein took to the Senate floor to allege the Central Intelligence Agency was illegally accessing the computers of Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, who were working on a report about the CIA’s torture programs. At the time, CIA Director John Brennan, who is now a MSNBC contributor, flatly denied the claims.
“As far as the allegations of CIA hacking into Senate computers — nothing could be further from the truth. We wouldn’t do that. I mean that’s, that’s, that’s just beyond the scope of reason,” Mr. Brennan said.
Months later, the CIA’s own inspector general found Mrs. Feinstein’s claims were right — that 10 CIA staffers “improperly accessed or caused access to,” the Senate staffers’ shared computer drives.
So are Mr. Carlson’s spying allegations true? In the coming weeks or months, perhaps there will be more revelations. However, they’re certainly not beyond the scope of reason.
• Kelly Sadler is commentary editor at The Washington Times.