host Tucker Carlson offered an update Tuesday that a National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower contacted him and disclosed that the agency – which conducts surveillance on foreign targets – had accessed some of his personal emails.
said the whistleblower was able to identify contents of the messages known only to the host and the recipient of them – which he said are germane to a pressing story the program is working on, alleging that the agency “is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air.”
On Tuesday’s program, Carlson pointed to a statement put out by the moments before airtime and recounted several tense phone calls with the agency – as the program attempted to get ahold of the NSA director, Gen. Paul Nakasone.
In a statement tweeted at 8 PM ET, the agency denied Carlson’s claim it was monitoring his electronic communications or trying to force “Tucker Carlson Tonight” off the air.
“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 statement read in part. “NSA has a foreign intelligence mission. We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that could harm the United States. With limited exceptions (e.g. an emergency), NSA may not target a US citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting.”
However, Carlson said the statement did not directly address what he was asking when his team attempted to get an answer from Nakasone.
“Last night on this show we made a very straightforward claim: NSA has read my private emails without my permission. Period. Tonight’s statement does not deny that,” Carlson said.
Carlson called Nakasone a “highly-political left-wing four-star general,” and recounted that an NSA receptionist refused to connect his team to Nakasone’s office during a call on Tuesday morning.
The host added that “Tucker Carlson Tonight” tried again in the afternoon using a direct line, remarking that, “Nakasone’s assistant seemed shocked that someone whose email the NSA is reading would dare to call the director himself.”
“Shut up, serf. Obey,” he remarked in characterizing the dynamic. “They claimed Nakasone wasn’t there.”
Nakasone, nominated in 2018 by President to replace Adm. Mike Rogers, concurrently leads the U.S. Cyber Command.
With his query still unanswered, Carlson recounted another terse call with the NSA, which is headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland.
“Did the Biden administration read my emails? NSA officials refuse to say,” Carlson said. “In a very heated follow-up conversation 20 minutes ago, they refused even to explain why they won’t answer that simple question.”
The message NSA was sending him, he said: “We can do whatever we want.”
“We can read your personal texts and emails. We can send veiled threats your way to brush you back if we don’t like your politics. We can do anything. And there’s literally nothing you can do about any of it. We’re in charge, and you’re not.”
“Orwellian doesn’t begin to describe the experience,” Carlson described.
Carlson added that the American people writ large will likely have to get used what he characterized as the federal government targeting dissidents ala China, noting that earlier this month, President Biden’s Attorney General “classified tens of millions of patriotic Americans as [and] White supremacist saboteurs.”
“We’re going to see a whole lot more of this.”
Carlson went on to note that the itself – through press secretary Jen Psaki – didn’t directly answer whether it monitored the host’s communications.
“The Biden Administration, for its part, ignored the story. They did not deny it. They can’t. They know it’s true. Today, the president’s flack was asked it on Air Force One,” he said.
“The NSA has, I think you are well aware, everyone’s aware, everyone on this plane is aware, I should say, is an entity that focuses on foreign threats and individuals who are attempting to do us harm on foreign soil. So that is their purview. But beyond that I would point you to the intelligence community,” Psaki said earlier Tuesday in response to a reporter’s question about Carlson’s allegation.
“Notice once again, no denial,” Carlson said in response. “She’s right that the NSA is chartered to spy on foreigners, not Americans. But it does spy on Americans, millions of them, sometimes for political reasons, and everyone knows it. In Washington, this is considered fine, but it’s not. It’s dangerous and wrong.”
“Some faceless hack in a powerful government agency decides he doesn’t like what you think, so he’s going to hurt you and there’s nothing you can do about it? That could happen to you. And when it does — trust us — NBC News will call you a delusional Q-Anon conspiracy theorist for complaining about it.”
, Carlson said his program has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the agency, and added that the information shared with him by the whistleblower has “no other possible source” than himself or the contact he was communicating with on his personal device.
Civil rights attorney and former California GOP Vice-Chairwoman later told Carlson she was “not surprised” by the response from the NSA.
“In the last 20 years since 9/11, I and other civil libertarians have been screaming about the Patriot Act and other laws – but dating back to 1947, the law said spying may only be on foreign and not on American citizens, and our government regularly flouts that.
Dhillon said the intelligence community has a track record of not always being upfront about operations, pointing to Obama Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper denied to Congress in 2014 that the U.S. was collecting data on millions of Americans. characterizations of his testimony as a “lie.”
“Leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden subsequently showed the National Security Agency has been gathering and storing American telephone calling records for years,” said Dhillon.
“When you look at the [former Trump campaign aide] Carter Page violation, for example, the lies from the FISA court — does anybody think the national security apparatus was trying to find out Carter Page’s activities and communications? No, the truth is if they can get surveillance on individual, what they are able to do is scoop up all communications of all of the people who reach out to that person, text them – even without any predicate.”