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The NSA promptly denied the allegationssaying it focuses exclusively on "foreign targets. The National Security Agency's mission is focused on tracking threats from overseas, and is authorized to scoop up s, texts, phone calls and other electronic data from virtually any foreign source, including he of state, foreign government officials, foreign spies and terrorist organizations. The National Security Act ofwhich provided the legal basis for the creation of the NSA, contained a specific ban on intelligence operatives from operating domestically.
By law, the NSA is barred from directly eavesdropping on a U. There is no indication that any court has authorized surveillance of Carlson. However, the agency Nsa can you host end up collecting s or phone recordings of Americans incidentally if those U. Carlson is claiming that the NSA monitored his communications for political reasons, implying there was no legal basis for the alleged surveillance.
If Carlson was in touch with a foreigner targeted by the NSA, it's possible his s or phone calls could be swept up in that surveillance, experts said. It's also possible he could have been unaware or uncertain whether the person on the other end of the call was a foreign agent. If there was any truth to Carlson's allegations, it could be that "he was communicating with a foreign agent," said Figliuzzi, who is also an NBC News contributor.
Even so, intercepted communications that include a U. But he said if that was the case, under the law there were only two possibilities: that the person the television pundit was ing or texting was an agent of a foreign power or a federal court had determined Carlson himself was a foreign agent. With limited exceptions e. The wording of the NSA statement left open the possibility that Carlson's s or texts had been collected incidentally in the monitoring of a foreigner.
Since Carlson made his on-air allegations, Fox News has not issued a statement and other shows on the network have not followed up with major coverage. Carlson has ly devoted ificant airtime to allegations that President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, have links to corruption in Ukraine. A public U. The assessment said Russian agents passed material to "prominent U. It's not clear if Carlson's coverage of that issue, or other topics, could have put him into contact with a foreigner targeted by the NSA.
The prime-time host interviewed El Salvador's president earlier this year, and the NSA is known to monitor political leaders around the world.
The National Security Agency has come under frequent criticism over the past two decades for its secrecy and how it handles domestic electronic data. After intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of the agency's vast eavesdropping operations, the NSA faced accusations that it was encroaching on Americans' privacy and hiding the extent of its data collection. During a congressional hearing, former national intelligence director James Clapper misled Congress about the NSA's controversial collection of domestic phone records and later issued an apology.
The NSA was collecting data related to phone calls placed and received and the duration of phone calls, but not the contents of conversations, according to intelligence officials. The then-FBI director, Robert Mueller, apologized to the newspapers' chief editors over the incident. The government's handling of surveillance also came under sharp criticism in the case of Carterthe former Trump campaign aide who was the subject of a national security warrant but was never charged with a crime.
In January of last year, the Justice Department concluded that two of the four court orders allowing the FBI to conduct secret national security surveillance of were not valid because the government made "material misstatements" in obtaining them. That followed a scathing report by the Justice Department's inspector general, which found that the FBI's applications to spy on were rife with "factual misstatements and omissions. This past January, a former FBI lawyer was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to falsifying an in a surveillance application.
Notably, however, the judge said the warrant probably would have been approved anyway, without the misstatement.
had ly been the target of Russian intelligence recruitment efforts, according to court records. Carlson came out with his NSA allegation about midway through his show on Monday, saying that a "whistleblower" in the federal government had informed him about NSA spying aimed at forcing his show off the air.
He said the person who reached out to him "repeated back to us information about a story that we are working on that could have only come directly from my texts and s.
He also alleged that the alleged monitoring was politically motivated, without providing evidence. We have confirmed that.
House minority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. On Tuesday's program, Carlson doubled down on his allegations, saying the White House had avoided a direct denial and accusing the Biden administration of seeking to "intimidate" him. Democracy can't function with semi-independent, highly politicized intel agencies. It's really dangerous," Carlson said. The television host alleged that the NSA "routinely" spies on Americans and that it was sometimes for "political reasons.
That could happen to you," Carlson said. He called his experience "Orwellian" and similar to "living in China.
Carlson then tied his allegations to a frequent theme on his program, claiming that the Biden administration is a threat to Americans' freedom and is unfairly labeling many "patriotic Americans" as domestic terrorists and white supremacist saboteurs. PEN America, a nonprofit that advocates for freedom of expression, said that the allegation that the NSA was spying on an American media figure was "a matter of concern," but questioned whether claims from Tucker Carlson could be considered credible given his track record.
In a defamation suit filed by former Playboy model Karen McDougal against Fox News over statements made by Carlson, lawyers for Fox argued that the TV host was not stating facts on air but engaged in hyperbole for rhetorical effect. The judge agreedruling last year that Carlson's statements could not be considered as "factual representations.
The Anti-Defamation League has demanded Fox News sack Carlson, saying he defended a white supremacist theory that claims whites are being "replaced" by people of color. Carlson's "rhetoric was not just a dog whistle to racists — it was a bullhorn," the head of the ADL, Jonathan Greenblatt, said in an April letter to Fox News.
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NSA denies spying on Fox News host Tucker Carlson