Sources ‘familiar with the conversations’ told the independent information news organisation that ‘Carlson was talking to U.S.-based Kremlin intermediaries about setting up an interview with Vladimir Putin.’
Author, Jonathan Swan explained, “U.S. government officials learned about Carlson’s efforts to secure the Putin interview. Carlson learned that the government was aware of his outreach — and that’s the basis of his extraordinary accusation, followed by a rare public denial by the NSA that he had been targeted.”
According to Swan, there are ‘several plausible scenarios — including legal ones — that could apply.’
- “The U.S. government submitted a request to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Carlson to protect national security.” (Axios concluded this was unlikely)
- “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.” (Axios concluded this was more plausible)
- “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.” (Axios concluded was unclear due to just cause vs. legal protections of American citizens).
Swan argued that scenario 2 was the most probable because “Carlson’s emails or text messages could have been incidentally collected as part of monitoring this person. [However] Carlson’s identity would have been masked in any intelligence reports.”
He adds, “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.”
To achieve the latter, the NSA would have to have sound legal reasoning, and presumably a warrant.
Axios explained, if Carlson’s contacts lived in the United States there’s no apparent legal justification for the NSA’s alleged activities against Carlson.
The NSA’s actions could amount to an abuse of power.
The only way the NSA could spy on Carlson without first ‘seeking approval’ would be if one of those contacts were a) on foreign soil and b) a foreign national.
After a request for comment, Axios said the NSA declined and referred them back to their original denial of the allegations.
The lingering questions are, did the NSA have permission, and if so, did they have just cause for concern?
Although the NSA denies they spied on Carlson, the organisation hasn’t denied reading his emails.
The Federalist’s Jordan Davidson acknowledged, “While Axios claims it can’t confirm that the government spied on Carlson, the details of the story make it clear that the host was targeted, that his communications were collected, that he was unmasked, and that details of his communications were shared with reporters.”
Carlson’s revelations have been met with a mixture of outrage and mockery.
Responses archived by The Federalist highlight the hypocritical blue tick Twitterati’s defence of the NSA, their criticisms of Carlson for emailing a “foreign contact”, and the writing off of ‘Tucker Carlson as a right-wing conspiracy theorist.’
Answering his opponents Carlson said, “I’m allowed to email with anyone I want … I’m a journalist and I’m an American more importantly. It’s none of your business who I’m emailing with. If you think I’m committing a crime, then charge me with it, and if I’m not committing a crime, then please leave me alone. I have a right to communicate in private with other people.”
It is unlikely information brought to light by Axios will prompt an outpouring of support for Carlson against government overreach.
Leftists are unlikely to offer solidarity, let alone an apology, to a target they see as free game.