Carlson initially claimed in late June that the NSA was “monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air.” He said an unnamed whistleblower had contacted his show with details about a possible story that he said could only have come from reading his text messages and emails.
That prompted a rare statement from the normally reclusive NSA denying his claims. “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 agency said.
Sen. Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, criticized the statement for side-stepping the question of whether the NSA had intercepted Carlson’s communications whether or not he was a target of an investigation.
In a statement Tuesday, Rubio said the inspector general’s review “is an important step toward ensuring public confidence. It is important that this review is as transparent as possible so it doesn’t fuel further public suspicion and distrust.”
The NSA collects signals intelligence — emails, text messages, and other electronic communications — on foreign targets for a range of purposes including counterterrorism and cybersecurity. It is supposed to target U.S. citizens only in rare instances.
Americans mentioned in collected intelligence must have their identities withheld unless U.S. officials with proper clearance and a good reason ask for their names to be revealed, a process known as “unmasking.”
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