Did Tucker Carlson Tell A Wee Fib When He Said The FBI Stuck Tapps Up His Pasty Ass?
Hey, remember that time when Trump's pal Mike Flynn got picked up promising sanctions relief to the Russian ambassador and then spent the next five years pretending that it was the FBI's fault that he lied about it? Well, if you liked Season One of "I'm Not A Spy, YOU'RE The Spy," you're going to love Season Two, featuring everyone's favorite slack-jawed Great Dane Tucker Carlson.
For the past week, Carlson has been yowling about the NSA intercepting his communications and leaking them to journalists as part of a dastardly campaign to get the Fox News host kicked off the air. As a threshold matter, this is highly unlikely, since it's illegal for the NSA to monitor American citizens. And while we're not here to carry water for America's overweening national security establishment, let's assume they have better things to do than watch Carlson play footsie with gross bigots. If Carlson says that he's being targeted by No Such Agency, we're going to need more proof than his inane blarping that some journalist told him so.
"Yesterday I learned, that — and this is going to come out soon — that NSA, leaked the contents of my e-mail to journalists in an effort to discredit me," Carlson ranted to Maria Bartiromo this week. "I know this because I got a call from one saying 'oh, this is what your e-mail was about.'"
"There was one other person who knew I sent that e-mail, and it was my executive producer Justine Wells, that's it, and I didn't mention it to anybody else, including my wife," he said later in the interview, transcribed by Media Matters. "There is no possibility that anyone else could have known. Then again yesterday I got a call before air like 7:15, from a journalist I know and like, not many left, but do I like this person, he repeated back to me he got it, because the NSA leaked it, so, yes, entirely real."
After the Sony hack, and the DNC hack, and the RNC hack, and Armie Hammer's kink DMs, and every woman in America getting her nudes stolen, we're supposed to believe that the only way Tucker Carlson's emails could have gotten out into the wild was if the NSA stuck a wiretap up his saggy ass?
The NSA took the unusual step of publicly denying that they'd been anywhere near Carlson's pasty bottom in a very carefully worded statement last week.
A statement from NSA regarding recent allegations: https://t.co/vduE6l6YWg— NSA/CSS (@NSA/CSS) 1625011226.0
Not a "target"? Well, huh. That certainly seems to suggest that there could have been some incidental collection of Carlson's comms if he was chatting up dodgy foreign types. And considering that he spent all of 2020 helping Rudy Giuliani et al. launder Russian propaganda on Joe Biden, it's entirely possible that Li'l Tuckums was picked up talking to someone under surveillance by the national security establishment.
Naturally, Carlson did VRY SRIOUS bigboy journalisms by calling up NSA Director Paul Nakasone's office and yelling at the poor admin and filing a ridiculously overbroad FOIA request. Note that the dates on said request extend back to January 1, 2019, more than two years before Biden was sworn in, which rather undercuts the claim that "The Biden administration is spying on us. We have confirmed that."
Then last night Axios's Jonathan Swan broke the news that Carlson has been negotiating to get an interview with Vladimir Putin, and the whole stupid story started to look more like Mike Flynn 2, Sclerotic Boogaloo. Because yeah, no shit the US government is collecting comms on Kremlin guys. That's their whole job!
As Swan points out, it's highly implausible that this is the kind of domestic data collection which involved a FISA warrant.
A more plausible scenario is that one of the people Carlson was talking to as an intermediary to help him get the Putin interview was under surveillance as a foreign agent.
In that scenario, Carlson's emails or text messages could have been incidentally collected as part of monitoring this person, but Carlson's identity would have been masked in any intelligence reports.
In order to know that the texts and emails were Carlson's, a U.S. government official would likely have to request his identity be unmasked, something that's only permitted if the unmasking is necessary to understand the intelligence.
And thanks to Tucker's shenanigans, the Kremlin is now aware that these foreign agents are under US government surveillance, as Marcy Wheeler points out on her essential blog Empty Wheel. Great job, dude!
Wheeler also notes the possibility that Carlson's supposed "whistleblower" is actually the FBI coming clean about surveilling yet another journalist, as it has been doing regularly since Merrick Garland started cleaning house after Bill Barr wrecked the Justice Department.
The import of the agency involved — FBI or NSA — is that "unmasking" works quite differently for the FBI, which has a duty to guard against spying in this country. FBI agents tracking a known Russian agent might review such communications to find out if a high profile US journalist was being recruited by a known Russia spy. And if this was the FBI, it might explain how it recently became known: because Merrick Garland's DOJ is trying to disclose all the tracking of journalists that took place under the Trump Administration.
Say it ain't so, Joe!
Would good, honest Tucker Carlson take advantage of a good faith disclosure by the Biden Justice Department to accuse the NSA of targeting him? Would Fox allow its airways to be used to launder a fake scandal about a Democratic administration? Would Republicans go haring off after this obvious bullshit without stopping for one second to consider that the whole story stinks to high heaven? Perish the very thought!
[Axios / Empty Wheel]
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.