Former Head NSA Lawyer: Tucker Carlson’s Allegations Merit Further Investigation

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The National Security Agency’s reported internal review of Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s spying allegations suggests that the matter should be investigated further, according to a former NSA general counsel.

Citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter, The Record reported last week that the NSA’s internal review found that government officials indeed “unmasked” Carlson’s identity in classified documents—supporting some of the claims the Fox News host has made against the agency.

“The nation’s top electronic spy agency found that Carlson was mentioned in communications between third parties and his name was subsequently revealed through ‘unmasking,’ a process in which relevant government officials can request the identities of American citizens in intelligence reports to be divulged provided there is an official reason, such as helping them make sense of the intelligence documents they are reviewing,” The Record reported.

According to former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker, this report supports the calls for an investigation made by Carlson and others. The report also supports the NSA’s earlier statement that it did not “target” Carlson, Baker said.

“So what about NSA/Carlson should be investigated and perhaps disclosed? The unmasking request, mainly. Motive matters. First, the requester should have given a reason for the unmasking. How plausible was it, given the requester’s position?” Baker said on Twitter.

“The second question about NSA/Carlson unmasking: How was Carlson identified when masked? ‘US Journalist’? ‘US Citizen’? That will help gauge whether the requester really needed to know the identity behind the mask,” Baker continued.

“Traditionally, the intelligence communities would investigate the NSA/Carlson flap with full access to the classified data, and issue a report summarizing the investigation without disclosing the classified information,” the former head NSA lawyer added. “Not too hard if NSA has already done its own probe.”

Baker, now a partner at Steptoe & Johnson, also said that some aspects of the investigation would need to be protected due to the sensitivity of the intelligence operation. The NSA can’t provide the full context of the Carlson probe without disclosing a target and probably the method of intercept—both highly classified, according to Baker.


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