Tucker Carlson defends using his show to accuse the NSA of spying on him


Fox News host Tucker Carlson has said he felt he had ‘no choice’ but to go public with his explosive allegation that the National Security Agency tried to leak his private emails to the press.

Carlson first went public with his claim late last month, saying a government insider warned him that the NSA had intercepted his emails and ‘unmasked’ his identity, which by law should have been kept secret.

In an interview with his colleague Lisa Boothe for her upcoming podcast, an advance clip of which obtained by Mediaite, Carlson explained that he was reluctant to go public with the allegation, but felt he had no other option.

‘So, like, getting on TV and saying the government spying on me was, you know, I did not want to do that at all, but they were spying on me and I felt like I had no choice,’ Carlson explained.

‘I mean, I did it defensively, you know?’ he added. ‘I don’t have any other — I don’t have subpoena power. I can’t arrest anybody. I can’t make them answer questions.’ 

‘All I can do is talk about stuff, um, with the megaphone of the show in the hope that that will, you know, protect us, but I really felt threatened by it.’ 

Lisa Boothe

Tucker Carlson spoke out in an interview with his colleague Lisa Boothe (right) for her upcoming podcast, saying he felt he had ‘no choice’ but to go public with his NSA claim

Carlson has demanded answers from National Security Agency Director Gen. Paul Nakasone (above) after revealing that a government source warned him his emails were intercepted

Carlson has demanded answers from National Security Agency Director Gen. Paul Nakasone (above) after revealing that a government source warned him his emails were intercepted

Carlson’s full interview with Boothe is due to air on Monday’s episode of her podcast, The Truth With Lisa Boothe

After Carlson first went public, the NSA took the highly unusual step of denying that he had been an ‘intelligence target’, without actually denying that his emails were intercepted.

Carlson refused to back down from his claims, going on to explain that he had been in contact with press agents for Russian President Vladimir Putin in an attempt to secure an interview, and alleging that the NSA had leaked the contents of those emails to media rivals in an attempt to discredit him.  

On his show on Thursday, Carlson spoke with legal scholar Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University.

‘If reporters were given that information, it would be even more serious because even if your email itself was not classified, the intercept is,’ said Turley. 

‘NSA… material is heavily classified. I do national security work and it takes years for me to get access to a FISA warrant, I should say, or an NSA surveillance document,’ he added.

‘So the mere fact that they engaged in surveillance is classified. So it would be a serious federal crime,’ said Turley.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviews legal scholar Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University on Thursday

Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviews legal scholar Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University on Thursday

Carlson has said a whistleblower told him that the NSA intercepted his emails attempting to secure an interview with Putin, then spread the information in a smear campaign

Carlson has said a whistleblower told him that the NSA intercepted his emails attempting to secure an interview with Putin, then spread the information in a smear campaign

The NSA is generally barred from spying on American citizens, unless the agency obtains a warrant from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

However, it is possible for the agency to collect the communications of Americans if they are in contact with a foreign surveillance target. 

Turley said that there were a number of scenarios in which the NSA could have legally intercepted Carlson’s emails, but added: ‘That doesn’t explain the more troubling questions.’ 

‘How that information was circulated and also how your name was not masked,’ he said. Masking refers to the practice of redacting the name of U.S. citizens from intercepts, which the NSA is generally required to do.

‘Now, you can unmask people in a surveillance documents of that kind but it requires someone to ask for unmasking and there would be no legitimate reason to do so here,’ added Turley.

Carlson first presented his allegations on June 28, saying that he had been alerted by a source in the intelligence community. 

On his Wednesday show, Carlson revealed that he was trying to arrange an interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin when he ‘was spied on by the NSA’. 

Carlson was trying to secure an interview with Vladimir Putin before the Russian leader's June 16 meeting with Joe Biden (above) but the attempt fell through

Carlson was trying to secure an interview with Vladimir Putin before the Russian leader’s June 16 meeting with Joe Biden (above) but the attempt fell through

‘Late this spring I contacted a couple of people I thought could help get an interview with the Russian President Vladimir Putin,’ Carlson told his viewers.

Trying to secure an interview with a world leader is routine journalistic practice, and should not have raised alarm.

Indeed, his Fox News colleague Chris Wallace won the outlet its first Emmy nomination for his 2018 Putin interview.

Shortly before Putin met President Joe Biden in Geneva, NBC’s Keir Simmons sat for a lengthy interview with the Russian leader, which aired on June 14, scooping Carlson.

‘I told nobody I was doing this other than my executive producer, Justin Wells,’ Carlson said.

‘I wasn’t embarrassed about trying to interview Putin. He’s obviously newsworthy. I’m an American citizen, I can interview anyone I want, and I plan to.

‘But still in this case I decided to keep it quiet. I figure that any kind of publicity would rattle the Russians and make the interview less likely to happen.

‘But the Biden administration found out anyway by reading my emails.’ 

Carlson said that, despite telling no one, apart from his producer, news of his efforts soon spread around Washington, DC.

Carlson called on Paul Nakasone, the director of the NSA, to explain why he was 'umasked'

Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, would also be aware of who requested the 'unmasking' of Carlson and why, he said

Carlson called on Paul Nakasone (left), the director of the NSA, and Avril Haines (right), the director of national intelligence, to explain why he was ‘unmasked’ 

‘I learned from a whistle-blower that the NSA planned to leak the contents of those emails to media outlets,’ he said. Earlier on Wednesday he said he had been approached at a funeral in Washington DC by someone who told him of the spying.

‘Why would they do that? ‘Well, the point, of course, was to paint me as a disloyal American, a Russian operative. I’ve been called that before, ‘ he said.

‘A stooge of the Kremlin, a traitor doing the bidding of a foreign adversary.’

Carlson on June 28 said he learned of the alleged spying on his show thanks to ‘a whistleblower within the US government who reached out to warn us that the NSA, the National Security Agency, is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air.’ 

Carlson said that the whistleblower ‘repeated back to us information about a story that we are working on that could have only come directly from my texts and emails.’

He added: ‘The Biden administration is spying on us. We have confirmed that.’ 

The NSA on June 29 responded with a highly unusual denial. The intelligence agency does not normally comment on its activities. 

The NSA denied the targeting of Carlson, but did not deny that his communications were incidentally collected. 

On June 29, the NSA denied that Carlson was 'an intelligence target'

On June 29, the NSA denied that Carlson was ‘an intelligence target’

The NSA, in their June 29 statement, denied that Carlson had been deliberately targeted. But they did not deny that may have been incidentally swept up in their surveillance of foreign targets

The NSA, in their June 29 statement, denied that Carlson had been deliberately targeted. But they did not deny that may have been incidentally swept up in their surveillance of foreign targets

They tweeted: ‘On June 28, 2021, Tucker Carlson alleged that the National Security Agency has been ‘monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air.’ 

‘This allegation is untrue. 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.

‘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.’ 



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