The Next Shoe in the Tucker Carlson Spying Scandal Just Dropped

Photo via Gage Skidmore

Some weeks ago now, Tucker Carlson took to the air to make a startling claim, at least for those that still had any faith in our intelligence apparatus. Carlson claimed that the NSA had been spying on him and had read some of his private communications.

At first, the Fox News host was met with derision, including by some who claim to be conservatives. Why, the NSA would never spy on an American citizen, after all. Shortly after, though, Carlson’s claims were confirmed by Axios. The goalposts quickly shifted to “Oh yeah, well what was Carlson doing trying to interview Vladimir Putin?” as if the Russian president hadn’t been interviewed by NBC News just a week or so earlier.

Now, Carlson has revealed the next shoe to drop in the spying scandal against him — an NSA watchdog investigation.

WASHINGTON—The National Security Agency’s internal watchdog is conducting a review of recent allegations made by Fox News host Tucker Carlson that the spy agency had improperly targeted his communications for surveillance, the agency and an official said.

The announcement of the review by the NSA’s inspector general doesn’t mention Mr. Carlson by name, but instead refers to a member of the U.S. news media. A person familiar with the matter said the review concerns Mr. Carlson.

The review “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,” NSA inspector general Robert Storch said in a brief statement.

We are a long way from “No way was Carlson spied on,” aren’t we? The NSA clearly intercepted Carlson’s communications. It’s also fairly certain that he was improperly unmasked, likely by someone in the Biden administration. There doesn’t appear to be any legitimate security reason for this to have happened, much less for his name and the contents of an email to be leaked to Axios. The fact that the original surveillance might have been incidental does not change the corruption involved in how the information was then handled.

As to whether this inspector general will do anything but whitewash the ordeal, I’m not sure. We have seen IG Horowitz at the DOJ, for example, pull no punches in exposing malfeasance and recommending criminal charges (though, the DOJ never wants to pursue them). It is possible the NSA IG is a straight shooter. It’s also possible they are a hack and nothing comes of this. So much of the bureaucracy is compromised that it’s impossible to tell.

What I do know is that Americans should not be spied on like this. I don’t care about concerns over terrorism. Rights are rights and too much of the NSA’s actions are blatantly unconstitutional. Past that, there should also never be a situation where an American journalist and citizen is targeted in a way where his communications are leaked to the media to try to make him look bad. Heads need to roll, though, they undoubtedly won’t.