Fox News host Tucker Carlson has been asking a lot of questions about the NSA spying on him. Others have been asking questions about his attempts to secure an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Still others are wondering why his electronic communications were monitored in the first place.
The biggest question in all of this is only being asked by a precious few. Who unmasked him? This is of paramount concern because unless he was the direct target of surveillance, a possibility that the NSA has categorically denied, then someone very high up in the food chain would have had to request his unmasking and subsequent leaking of his communications to the press.
For background, Axios published an article yesterday referencing the electronic communications the NSA has between Carlson and U.S.-based liaisons with Putin’s people. It drew much attention, not only because it verified the most viable scenario for the existence of the leaked emails was the NSA spying on him or someone with whom he was corresponding. The whole scenario gets trickier when we consider that any reports regarding the communications would require Carlson’s identity to be masked. Unmasking him, particularly in the timeframe in question, required someone very powerful at the White House. The list of people who have that type of clout is very short.
According to the Axios article:
The first — and least likely — scenario is that the U.S. government submitted a request to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Carlson to protect national security. 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.
In a third scenario, interceptions might not have involved Carlson’s communications. The U.S. government routinely monitors the communications of people in Putin’s orbit, who may have been discussing the details of Carlson’s request for an interview.
But under this scenario, too, Carlson’s identity would have been masked in reports as part of his protections as a U.S. citizen, and unmasking would only be permitted if a U.S. government official requested that his identity be unmasked in order to understand the intelligence. And it’s not clear why that would be necessary here.
Axios did not go into the the fourth scenario in which Carlson’s identity was never masked in the first place. That would be just as illegal as if they unmasked him without national security considerations taken into account. As Harmeet K. Dhillon noted on Twitter, there appears to be a major crime that has taken place in all of this.
WHO UNMASKED @TuckerCarlson and leaked his emails? There is a crime in this chain of events.
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) July 7, 2021
Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald joined Carlson on his show last night to go over both scenarios. He came to the conclusion that regardless of how the information was leaked and how Carlson’s identity became or remained unmasked, very serious crimes have been committed. According to Fox News:
“If NSA captures information sent privately by the American citizen, they have to keep that citizen’s identity secret unless they go through a process to ‘unmask’ it,” Carlson told Greenwald on Wednesday. “It seems very clear they did exactly what they are not allowed to do.”
Greenwald replied that there are two important components to the case: The likelihood Carlson’s communications had been intercepted with “legal authority” because he was communicating with either the Russian government, or a “target in the United States who [he] was using as an intermediary”.
“[If] they learned that way that you were communicating with the Russians about the possibility of an interview with Putin, they have the legal obligation to conceal your identity and make sure that nobody knows that you were the one that was speaking to the Russians,” he said.
“The intelligence that [the NSA] cares about is that the Russians were doing something, not with whom they were speaking — so clearly there was either a failure to hide your identity as required by law, which is illegal or an attempt to unmask it after it was minimized.”
“They’ve been operating in secret and with no democratic accountability for eight or nine decades now,” said Greenwald, adding that President Dwight Eisenhower, upon leaving office in 1961, warned of the pitfalls posed by the national security state.
Here’s the video from the segment:
This brings us right back to the question of who unmasked him. Was it someone at the NSA? Other intelligence agencies? A member of the Biden regime?
The next question that should be answered is why he was unmasked in the first place. Interviewing Putin is not against the law. It’s happened on multiple occasions, including by Fox News as recently as 2018. Based on the leaks, there does not appear to be any national security risks in play.
Carlson’s original theory that the NSA was trying to take him off the air seems more plausible every day.