NSA

Treat Tucker Carlson's NSA Snooping Claims Seriously, but Not Literally

The Fox News pundit’s emails were probably reviewed legally—and that’s part of the problem.

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Toward the end of June, Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson made a remarkable on-air claim: He told viewers that the National Security Agency (NSA) had been reading his emails and planned to leak the contents in order to try to get his show off the air. He said a "whistleblower within the U.S. government" told him about the plan.

If the claim were true in the exact way that Carlson said it, this would be an outrageous abuse of the NSA's power. The job of the NSA is to monitor foreign intelligence to track down spies and terrorists, not snoop on American journalists.

The NSA's response was pretty lackluster and didn't exactly close the door on the possibility that there was a kernel of truth in Carlson's claims. The agency responded (which itself is unusual) that Carlson's claim that it "was monitoring [his] electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take him off the air" was untrue and that 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."

I've been covering the NSA and surveillance issues for Reason since Edward Snowden's leaks and through the twists and turns of the investigation surrounding then-President Donald Trump and his associates' interactions with Russian representatives. I immediately noticed the hole in this denial: Carlson does not actually have to be the "target" of the NSA for the agency to have been able to read his communications. Many of Carlson's claims could be true even if he were simply communicating with somebody else who was the target of NSA monitoring.

Sure enough, on Wednesday night, Axios reported that Carlson had been communicating with intermediaries to try and arrange for an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is therefore extremely likely that at least one or more of the people Carlson communicated with (some of whom Axios reports had direct ties to the Kremlin) were legitimate targets of NSA surveillance. And therefore, the NSA did, in fact, probably get access to whatever emails were part of this discussion.

This means that the insistence by the NSA that it didn't "target" Carlson is accurate, but it also means that Carlson's claim that the NSA had read his emails may be accurate, at least to the extent that they were emails to the actual surveillance target.

This is colloquially known as a "backdoor search," which is a way for the NSA or FBI to secretly and warrantlessly access communications by Americans in a way that normally would not be permitted. This was, in part, what happened with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn when he was part of then-President-elect Donald Trump's transition team. Flynn wasn't the target of surveillance at the time—but Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador he was talking to, was. The feds were aware of the nature of the conversations because they were snooping on Kislyak. Flynn got in trouble with the feds not for what he said but for lying about it and covering up the conversations.

It's not controversial that the NSA could have intercepted Carlson's emails to Russian intermediaries, especially if they're connected to the Kremlin. But what is potentially controversial and legitimately bad is what might have happened once somebody at the NSA saw them. Carlson's identity is supposed to be concealed, and there's a complex "masking" and "unmasking" process that's supposed to prevent government officials from knowing who is involved unless there's a legitimate government interest.

Carlson did absolutely nothing wrong as a journalist by attempting to arrange an interview with Putin. This is all activity protected by the First Amendment. Chris Wallace interviewed Putin for Fox back in 2018. In all likelihood, any email exchanges between Wallace's camp and Russian officials were intercepted by the NSA on the Russian end, just like Carlson's might have been. So why has Carlson's identity been apparently unmasked and this information leaked to Axios?

Let's be skeptical of Carlson's claims that this is an attempt to make him look bad. He says now, "The point, of course, was to paint me as a disloyal American. A Russian operative. Been called that before. A stooge of the Kremlin, a traitor doing the bidding of a foreign adversary." This simply doesn't seem to track with how the NSA has handled other journalists who have attempted to interview Putin.

We don't actually know who Axios' sources are here. And Axios reporter Jonathan Swan notes that the very people Carlson was talking to could have been responsible for distributing the communications to others. Even though Carlson says only his executive producer knew about his outreach to Putin, Carlson has no idea what those Russian intermediaries might have done with the emails. For all we know the NSA might have actually seen the contents of the email via the communications between two Russian surveillance targets.

Nevertheless, this entire affair helps shine a spotlight on the NSA's backdoor search problem. It remains far too easy for the federal government to skirt the Fourth Amendment and access Americans' communications without a warrant just because they're talking with a foreign target. A bipartisan group of privacy-minded lawmakers, including the likes of Sens. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D–Ore.), have been trying to close these backdoors.

Unfortunately in the past, when given the opportunity, Congress actually expanded the authority of the feds to access this backdoor search information in order to fight domestic crimes, and Trump signed these authorizations into law, even while at the same time complaining about how the NSA did him dirty with the Russian probe.

In response to Carlson's claims, House Republican Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R–Calif.) announced last week that he has asked Rep. Devin Nunes (R–Calif.) as the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to investigate the extent to which the NSA's conduct might have been politicized.

Nunes is, unfortunately, emblematic of a lot of the Republican response to the NSA's excesses since Trump was elected. Nunes has been very emphatic about calling out some bad conduct by the feds and surveillance, particularly the faulty warrants used to justify snooping on former Trump aide Carter Page. And he turned out to be correct. But historically, Nunes has been a massive cheerleader for the power of the surveillance state, voting in favor of the aforementioned expansion of domestic surveillance authorities and attacking former Rep. Justin Amash (L–Mich.), calling him "Al Qaeda's best friend in the Congress," for attempting to rein in the NSA and FBI's domestic surveillance powers.

The best outcome here would be for these former cheerleaders of the surveillance state, having seen its political abuse, to finally support some restraints. What we should all fear, though, is that this is all a populist performance and, as with Trump, they only care when they and their allies are targets, and they aren't actually interested in the possibility of reform at all.

NEXT: Migrant Children Languished in Filthy Conditions Under Eye of Untrained Contractors, Whistleblowers Say

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  1. Not literally? Except you go on to admit the NSA unmasked a US citizen and leaked the emails to an Axios reporter. For what possible reason would they have done this?

    1. Reason can’t help themselves at this point. It is fucking pathetic. Tucker states he was told nsa was leaking communications to the press. Axios proves him right.

      The literally statement is a single phrase “to take me off the air” that may or may not be right. But what is the NSAs motivation? Chris wallace and ABC have both interviewed Putin in the last 2 years. Unmasking Carlson serves no purpose. Leaking it to media serves no purpose other than to harm Tucker.

      Reason has gone off the deep end.

      1. “It is fucking pathetic”

        It’s fucking disgusting. The final nail in the coffin of the pretense that Reason is libertarian.

        The fact is that there’s hard evidence that the NSA snooped, then stole, then distributed to the press in an effort to discredit.
        Not even J. Edgar Hoover had the guts to pull this shit.

        When the purported premier libertarian magazine ignores the peace deal with the Taliban and the Uighur genocide, purposefully discredits hard evidence demonstrating a political party using corporatism to censor citizens, demonstrating electoral fraud, demonstrating said party used the FBI and CIA to spy on political opponents, and now using the NSA as a shakedown apparatus, it’s not a libertarian magazine anymore.
        It’s a disgusting fraud.

        1. Reason has no reason but the commenters are still good even the trolls

          1. Exactly the opposite of that is true.

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            2. Why are you commenting then?

        2. While there are stories I enjoy reading at Reason, I would have to agree with you. There is nothing but silence on the issues presented.

        3. Critical Reason Theory

          1. You don’t know what real Critical Reason Theory is. So you don’t get to criticize it. Now get back to ignoring what’s being taught in government schools and daydream about universal school choice.

        4. The final mail? Does it take years to drive a nail?

          It’s a shame about tucker, but from a non partisan’s view, Tucker doesn’t mean shit. The focus should be on the overreaching military that is brazenly daring citizens to “come find out” if we don’t like them rag-dolling our constitution.

          1. The focus should be on the overreaching military that is brazenly daring citizens to “come find out” if we don’t like them rag-dolling our constitution.

            Citation please – citation that the military is daring citizens by actively, sorry, brazenly disregarding the Constitution would be a good starting point.

      2. What exactly are you upset about? That the author points out the same powers NSA possibly used to embarrass Tucker were approved by Nunes and signed into law by Trump? And that therefore it’s a bit rich for these same people to complain when those powers are used against them?

    2. That sounds, you know, extremely illegal.

      Libertarians for illegal spying and leaking of info to opposition journalists.

      I wonder why there is a need for a LP when Democrats exist.

  2. The NSA finding a semi-legitimate reason to snoop on *some* of your emails is like the FBI getting a warrant that includes permission to seize the framework that your safe deposit box sits in, but not the contents of the boxes themselves.

    *Oops* – Looks like they accidentally grabbed the whole thing.

  3. The NSA’s response was pretty lackluster and didn’t exactly close the door on the possibility that there was a kernel of truth in Carlson’s claims. The agency responded (which itself is unusual) that Carlson’s claim that it “was monitoring [his] electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take him off the air” was untrue and that 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.”

    Technically true is the best kind of true?

    What about this, the NSA is monitoring his communication, but didn’t plan to leak them with the intent of taking him off the air.

    Therefore, it is not true that they were monitoring Tucker Carlson with the plan to leak his communication to take him off the air.

    1. According to the NSA, a very trustworthy source that would never lie to the American public, Congress, or the news media.

    2. Would the actual tucker himself arrange guest bookings with putin, or did the producer do all of this? If only the producer made the outreach to putin, then probably only those emails were caught in the dragnet, and not actual tucker emails (from the actual tucker guy).

      The producer emails are probably not very juicy, but still they are not actual tucker emails. It might help to know if producers from other organizations also had emails caught in the dragnet when they were chatting up putin.

      Even if the nsa took only the producer’s boring guest-booking emails, it is still not the best. The actual tucker guy and his producer should only discuss putin stuff in person. Because the nsa will always take whatever putin stuff they can get.

      The tucker guy sure has done a great job playing this up for tucker-specific outrage and grievance purposes. When really any producer for any organization would probably have their putin stuff treated exactly the same way, and therefore it is not tucker-specific. And in any case if the emails at issue came to light everyone would likely find them very boring.

      1. Don’t they get three steps?
        Step one; Target to Tucker’s producer.
        Step two: Producer to Tucker.
        Step three: Tucker’s e-mail account.

      2. So you’re saying because you think it couldn’t possibly have been Tucker himself in emails, but only his producer, that it’s ok to read the emails of anyone they want without a warrant so long as at least one email they sent went international?

        & as you stated, furthermore, they were just boring back-and-forths anyway, so it shouldn’t matter that they read those emails without a warrant.

        Jesus you’re a dense dolt. Grow up.

  4. The entire federal government is in thrall to the intelligence branches, DoJ/FBI, and military. To what possible end would they allow any modification to their spying abilities? They literally got the last president thrown out for dissenting. You notice Biden isn’t exactly talking about this? Nor did Obama. You forgot to mention them in this writeup. Who was president when Snowden dumped his tranche of intel on us? Also why didn’t that president leave Afghanistan after bin Laden was killed? You start to see the picture now. So for democrats to both complain about it and then mock Carlson for it shows the depths of depravity the left wing has sunk.

    1. Actually he was removed for not being in the club. Evidently they aren’t accepting new members, regardless of how morally bankrupt they are.

    2. Trump violated the first rule of Corruption Club: Don’t talk about Corruption Club,

  5. This is not an outrage as long as the intelligence community only targets people I don’t like.

    1. Shackford could have used your concision, but he must think he’s paid by the word.

      Well maybe that, and more likely he’s a dishonest little fuckstick.

    2. See Jeff’s comment below for confirmation.

    3. I feel sorry for the guy that has to read Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper’s emails all day.

      1. At least smells can’t be transmitted through email.

        1. Or HIV, HPV, etc.. although that likely pertains much more to Lemon than Cooper.

          1. Homophobic white trash traitor.

            Goddamn Spokane fucking sucks

            1. He must be Mormon.

  6. Maybe he should switch back and forth between bow ties and regular ties to signal when he’s serious and when he’s literal.

    1. And jfree of course supports this spying.

      So today jfree supports nsa slying on icky Americans he doesn’t like. He also supports expansion of the Capitol Police.

      Go fuck yourself jfree.

    2. “It’s not true because the NSA hinted that it sorta might not be maybe”

    3. Nothing Tucker Carlson says should be taken seriously. This is what his lawyers said in court. The judge then agreed that a reasonable viewer should view Tucker’s statements on his show with an appropriate amount of skepticism. The problem is, of course, that Tucker does not have any reasonable viewers.

      1. Yes, they concluded the same about Maddow and her useful idiots too. So?

  7. We know from Snowden that the NSA commits billions of 4th amendment violations every hour of every day. I’m sure they’re recording Carlson’s phone and e-mail, the question is whether anyone’s actually looking at the contents.

    -jcr

  8. “The Fox News pundit’s emails were probably reviewed legally”

    Then I’m satisfied the government did nothing wrong.

    So when can we expect Shackford’s next piece in which he explains to cisgender females that they’re terrible, hateful people if they don’t want to see penises and testicles in the women’s locker room?

    #TransWomenAreWomen

    1. “The Fox News pundit’s emails were probably reviewed legally”
      yes be released illegally

  9. “Let’s be skeptical of Carlson’s claims that this is an attempt to make him look bad. He says now, “The point, of course, was to paint me as a disloyal American. A Russian operative. Been called that before. A stooge of the Kremlin, a traitor doing the bidding of a foreign adversary.” This simply doesn’t seem to track with how the NSA has handled other journalists who have attempted to interview Putin.”

    Yeah, a conservative being accused of being a Russian asset is a ridiculous assertion.

    1. It’s antithetical at best. Treason is the province of the left.

      1. Nope.

        Treason is the province of Trump worshippers who want to overthrow the govt and kill half the country.

        That’s what your backward ass advocates.

        Poor white trash Spokane traitor Mark.

        Such a fucking coward.

        Traitor

        1. Projecting, again, I see.

        2. You fucking lemmings – could you possibly do exactly what they want you to do any better?

        3. Hey KARen, how is the Mormon cock sucking going thus far? I heard you were behind on paying the rent on your hippie parcel but you found a nice benefactor to shove some progress down your throat? So, are you gonna have to move out or not?

  10. Treat Tucker Carlson’s NSA Snooping Claims Seriously, but Not Literally

    In terms of the larger issue of the propriety and legitimacy of NSA snooping and spying? Absolutely.

    But don’t sweep under the rug what Tucker Carlson did: He lied about it. When confronted with the evidence, he *could* have done something responsible with it like have a sober serious discussion on the topic, like this article, using his platform. But noooo, what he did instead was play the role of the populist demagogue. “I’m a threat to them so they are trying to silence me by any means necessary!!!” That was his take on the matter. He is not stupid. He understands how NSA spying works. He chose to use this example to promote his own show and to fan the flames of populist anger. And maybe now realizing what he has done, fewer people will rely on his show to be well informed on any issue.

    1. So, it turns out that the NSA *was* actually snooping on his emails, and that’s your take?

      He may (or may not) have gotten the details or motivations wrong, but it looks like the gist of his story is basically factual.

      1. My take is:

        It’s wrong for the NSA to be indiscriminately spying on citizens’ emails, and that includes Tucker Carlson’s emails.

        It’s also wrong for Tucker Carlson to be using this incident in an irresponsible and unproductive manner, considering the giant platform that he has.

        1. So he should run his show how you want him to?

          1. He could stop being a complete piece of shit at any time. But then I guess Fox News wouldn’t pay him anymore.

            1. It’s also very telling that jeff here makes a sensible statement “hey, it’s wrong for them to spy on him but it’s also wrong of fucker carlson to be so irresponsible, etc.” and your first inclination is to defend his dumbass.

              Tribe over all eh?

              1. R Mac is trolling. He does not want a serious discussion, he only wants to bait people. Just ignore him.

                1. He says un-ironically in response to someone that called him fucker Carlson and said I’m in a tribe with someone who’s show I don’t watch.

                2. Why the fuck are you ‘responding’ to your own sock?

                  Do you think nobody notices this shit?

                  1. Sure whatevs.

                    1. Slit your wrists.

                    2. Hey chemleft, is raspberrydinners your sockpuppet or Tony’s?

                    3. Nardz, I’ve been after him to do that for at least two years now. He really needs to do it. If anyone should hate himself, it’s Jeffy.

                    4. Turn yourself in for treason Mark.

                      I’m not a fascist like you so I don’t want to see you killed. Just tried for your treason.

                3. You basically just handwaved away the fact that the NSA is definitely spying in media personalities, because Tucker Carlson, and now you’re accusing RMac of being disingenuous.

                  I know you’re paid to run cover for the Democrats here, but that’s just pathetic.

                4. R Mac is trolling. He does not want a serious discussion, he only wants to bait people. Just ignore him.

                  Seems more like an easy way for chemjeff to get out of an argument he knows he’ll loose – claim those who disagree are doing so only for malicious reasons.

                  Therefore, there’s zero need to reply to any point(s) made. So like any coward, chemjeff runs from the fight.

              2. What does you and Jeff not liking Tucker Carlson’s show have to do with this story?

                And I’m not a fan of his show, so not sure what tribe you’re inventing in your head.

                1. Tucker shouldn’t have worn that skirt. And him pointing out being raped while wearing that skirt is wrong.

                  Thats basically Jeff’s argument here.

              3. How was TC irresponsible? Explain

                1. He shouldn’t have talked smack about the Democrats

                  1. Nice new add to the name.

              4. Higjlighting near spying, unmasking, and leaking to reporters is wrong?

                How?

                1. Because fuck you. That’s why.

            2. He could stop being a complete piece of shit at any time.

              Whereas you just can’t help yourself.

            3. Tucker isn’t a piece of shit, you are. You just hate anything that isn’t leftist evil.

              1. You’re a piece of shit for defending that piece of shit.

                Traitor

                1. You’re such a little child, yet a complete bigot. So predictable, so stupid, so bigoted (making you a way bigger piece of shit than TC), so fond of your missing gay sex with a Mormon that you just can’t help yourself.

                  Here’s the proper response to you: Poor little guy – are you sweepy my wittle bigot?

                  It’s age and IQ appropriate.

        2. LMAO

        3. It’s also wrong for Tucker Carlson to be using this incident in an irresponsible and unproductive manner, considering the giant platform that he has.

          This is a terrible take. Or can we start dismissing every ex-hippie from the 60s who loudly, and proudly claimed they were “on a CIA list”?

          1. Did those ex-hippies have giant media platforms?

            1. Jeff: Carlson has a giant media platform and shouldn’t make any unprovable claims.

              Also Jeff: Why would the Biden administration care what Carlson says? He’s nothing.

              1. Jeff: if you have a big platform you should ignore NSA spying on you.

                1. Especially if you’re the press. It’s not like freedom of speech or freedom of the press has ever helped anyone that chemjeff knows – therefore they are unnecessary and for TC to invoke such things is just beyond the pale. His words are violence!

                  /sarc

        4. Higjlighting what you call wrong (snooping) is wrong on Carlson’s part?

          God damn. Jeff youre an idiot.

        5. So Tucker shouldn’t let the public know that our government is spying on people and illegally releasing that info in an attempt to hurt them politically. Chem you would probably turn your parents in for having a different political view

          1. So Tucker shouldn’t let the public know that our government is spying on people and illegally releasing that info in an attempt to hurt them politically.

            No, that’s not what I said. What I actually said:

            When confronted with the evidence, he *could* have done something responsible with it like have a sober serious discussion on the topic, like this article, using his platform. But noooo, what he did instead was play the role of the populist demagogue.

            1. It’s the exact same fucking thing! Son of a bitch you’re pathetic.

        6. “It’s also wrong for Tucker Carlson to be using this incident in an irresponsible and unproductive manner, considering the giant platform that he has.”

          Can we apply this philosophy to the entire Biden Administration?

        7. So, Tucker should’ve said “Yeah, they spied on me. No biggie”?

          That’s some GOOD individualism there.

    2. How do you know he lied?

      1. Tucker didn’t lie– or at minimum, from a “journalistic” standpoint, it can’t be declared a lie because Tucker may actually believe what he said. In addition, we don’t have any proof that Tucker’s interpretation of events is false any more than they’re true.

        It’s one of the reasons Journalism used to be very sparing with the word “lie”. Journalism is shit now, so “lie” gets breezily thrown around. But there used to be a kind of “code” in journalism that you wouldn’t say “lie” unless you had incontrovertible proof that the person had knowledge of a set of facts and was deliberately obscuring them.

        The example that was given by one journalist speaking on this very topic was that if say a CEO said “our products are safe” and it turns out that the products weren’t safe, they wouldn’t use “lie” because it’s possible the CEO was being given bad information by underlings, it may be possible that he honestly believed that any reports he may have seen were flawed.

        1. No no. Jeff knows it was the Russians that leaked the emails. Somehow.

        2. You know what? You’re right I can’t read Tucker Carlson’s mind. But why are we giving him the benefit of the doubt here? He was setting up an interview with Putin. He is smart enough to know how NSA spying works – or if not, he has an entire staff that can find these things out for him. And yet he chose to run with the whole “NSA IS SPYING ON ME IN ORDER TO SILENCE ME” narrative instead of what actually happened.

          1. “He said a “whistleblower within the U.S. government” told him about the plan.”

            So everything else about the “plan” that the whistleblower told him about happened, but the one part that we can’t know is a lie.

            1. Jeff is so focused on the motivation part and not the spying, unmasking, leaking parts.

              1. Jeffy is focused on being against a conservative, because the conservative is a conservative. That pretty much overs everything he says, except for when he supports a leftist because the leftist is a leftist.

                1. You’re focused on treason because a Trump worshipping traitor is a Trump worshipping traitor…

                  1. Goddamn, you’re nearly as repetitive as Rev, Arty, and just as stupid.

          2. So you’d rather give the NSA the benefit of the doubt???

            LO FUCKING L

    3. He didnt lie about Jack shit you statist fuck. There is no proof as to the NSAs intention in leaking the items to the media. Seeing as multiple agencies have interviewed putin, the only reasoning that makes sense is to harm Tucker

      How fucking dishonest are you??

      No wonder sarcasmic joined your team.

    4. The Axios article makes clear that they unmasked Carlson and leaked it to the media. What reason do you have to explain that other than to attack him? The bottom line is that Carlson wasn’t lying in any meaningful way. Unless you’re trying to split the air of “shut him down” versus generally attacking him.

      You really are tedious. When you aren’t beating your breast about how you’re “more libertarian than thou” because you mindlessly parrot defenses of Big Tech, you’re victim-blaming a blatant violation of civil liberties by the most secretive segment of the national security establishment.

      1. The Axios article makes clear that they unmasked Carlson and leaked it to the media.

        No it doesn’t. It doesn’t say that at all. Stop lying about what the article says.

        1. Yes it does say that. How do you think they figured out who be was emailing you ignorant shit.

        2. That’s exactly what it says, you cheap DNC shill.

      2. you’re victim-blaming a blatant violation of civil liberties

        No. As I said, it was wrong for the NSA to indiscriminately spy on citizens. That includes Tucker Carlson.

        What Tucker Carlson deserves blame for is how he decided to use his platform to reveal the spying.

        1. use his platform to reveal the spying.

          The horror. He exposed illegal unmasking, spying, and leaking to the media.

          What the fuck is wrong with you?

          1. “What Tucker Carlson deserves blame for is how he decided to use his platform to reveal the spying.”

            This from the same dude who advocates critical race theory, and forming elementary school curriculum around it…

        2. “What Tucker Carlson deserves blame for is how he decided to use his platform to reveal the spying”

          You’re literally arguing that “Snitches should get stitches” when it comes to the NSA. That people with platforms shouldn’t call out government crimals for harrassment and breaking the law.

          What a psychopath you are.

        3. This is fucked up even for you.

          1. It has been saved.

        4. You mean hitting back? Yeah right, you fucking pedophila enthusiast. Conservatives are supposed to say ‘Aw shucks, that’s not fair’, and then shut up, right.

          You really are a mendacious, ratfuck shitweasel.

    5. Great, now apply the same standards and logic to BLM. if you had a shred of intellectual honesty you’have been condemning them for months over the exact same thing, but you weren’t because violent marxist demagogues are apparently your type of people.

      1. Was the NSA spying on BLM too?

        1. Did the. NSA leak BLM’s emails to Axios?

          1. How’s shithole Spokane today traitor?

            Thinking of going camping in Idaho. Unfortunately it involves driving through shithole Spokane.

            1. Then take a detour. Perhaps of a cliff. No one will miss you.

              And again, I’m the patriot. You’re the traitor. I actually served my country, and you’re just a pussy soyboy progtard.

            2. Oh, and Spokane is so horrible that your kind are moving in droves. Since you faggots ruined the entire I-5 corridor.

    6. Judging by the gigantic wall of greyed out text under my comment, I can only assume that the usual GNATs are upset that I dare to criticize their Hero, Tucker Carlson.

      1. chemjeff has taken to the sarcasmic method of loudly and voluminously telling everyone who’ll listen that he’s “muting” them.
        What a clown.

        1. You’d think he would nobody supporting his arguments at all and think maybe he is wrong.

          Nope.

      2. …gigantic wall of greyed out text…

        What a fucking coward you are to have that many people muted. I guess your self-imposed safe space will always be there to comfort you.

        For the grown-ups – they should like hearing dissenting opinions (I do) as they are very helpful when well thought out – and that’s irregardless of whether the dissenter is a smartass or whatever motivations you wish to fantasize about.

        The question is always just one of logic, rhetoric and facts – does the dissenter have a better/stronger opinion than I & if so, beyond adjusting my opinion, I also ask myself with full brutal honesty things like why/how did I miss it? All in an effort to avoid making the same mistake in the future.

        What do you do? Mute – mute – mute here – mute there – a mute-mute everywhere!

  11. “The best outcome here would be for these former cheerleaders of the surveillance state, having seen its political abuse, to finally support some restraints.”

    And how, pray tell, will they enforce such restraints?

    The NSA is not going to obey the law. They never have and never will and there is nothing Congress or SCOTUS can do about it.

    Neither Congress nor SCOTUS nor POTUS has any power.

    The IRS has their own SWAT teams…

    At this point, if you are still thinking that a vote or a law is going to matter you are in line for a cattle car.

    1. So what is your proposed solution?

      1. The one granted us by the founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence.

      2. I love Jeff’s new fallback when he has been proven an ass…. to ask for the perfect solution in response. He can’t just say something was wrong if it hurts the democrats.

        1. And now the Perfect Solution fallacy.
          I think Jeff is planning to attempt to try every single fallacy in his career as a paid demagogue.

      3. Congress can defund and shutter the NSA if they wish. That is a lever they fully control, appropriations, they just never use it to its full effect.

    2. Tucker hasn’t even supported the surveillance state. He has backed many of the neutral leakers. This echo leaked for non political reasons.

  12. “We don’t actually know who Axios’ sources are here. And Axios reporter Jonathan Swan notes that the very people Carlson was talking to could have been responsible for distributing the communications to others.”

    Except this very article states that Carlson claimed a whistleblower told him about it before Axios reported it. Are you claiming Carlson is lying about how he found out about it, while telling the truth that it happened?

  13. I have been using e-mail for many years and have learned that you should not expect it to be an entirely private. Certainly if you work for a company or the government you can expect that they will claim to have a right to that email. Especially for government workers, emails can often be obtained by FOIA requests. So my general rule would be never put information in a email you would not generally give out and never deny contacting someone by email.

    As for question about should the NSA be able to “backdoor access”. Well other counties like Russian and China are likely not to worry about spying on people and should we forgo information that they have. Michael Flynn is a lowsome human being. He might well have just admitted to talking to the Russians. He certainly could have justified it. And he was high enough up the power structure to have known that his conversations might have been captured. Yet he chose to lie and doing so made himself the target of blackmail.

    1. LOL, are you drunk-posting?

      1. I’m leaning towards parody.

    2. “you should not expect it to be an entirely private”

      No. You definitely should expect it to be private. The fact that it isn’t is because criminal outfits like the NSA and the social media giants are deliberately breaking laws and getting away with it.

  14. So Tucker, we all know the NSA are illegally spying. We have known since 2012.

    What email are you using?

    Are you using encrypted email such as Proton? If not, why not?

    If so, please let us know what email system the NSA has compromised.

    1. You realize Tucker Carlson isn’t reading these comments, right?

    2. Funny how you think Proton is secure.

      1. More secure than most. They also fight warrants of their servers and tell users when they have to act on a warrant.

  15. What lie? And why are you against fanning the flames AGAINST the NSA? Your stupidity appears boundless.

    1. Tucker Carlson’s lie was the claim that the spying was somehow related to try to remove his show from the air. Because his show is such a threat to Joe Biden, supposedly. The spying had nothing to do with trying to silence him.

      1. “had been reading his emails and planned to leak the contents in order to try to get his show off the air. He said a “whistleblower within the U.S. government” told him about the plan.”

        Or maybe he was referring to the leak that hadn’t happened yet. That then did, in fact, happen.

        Carlson: A whistleblower in the government told me the NSA has my emails and plans to leak them.

        Carlson’s emails get leaked.

        Jeff: Carlson is lying about how his emails were leaked. The Russians leaking them, not the NSA, has to be the truth.

      2. Jeff believes the NSA had nothing but noble intentions when they unmasked and leaked the contents of his emails.

      3. Tucker isn’t lying, but you sure as fuck are. And doing poorly I might add.
        It’s got to be tough on you when your bosses at the fifty-cent factory are still scrambling for a narrative and you’ve got to wing this shit.

  16. Anyone else old enough to remember when Reason was guided by principles rather than principals?

    1. Are you on Rivals or 24/7 by any chance? WDE

      1. Do you think your weight issues could be tied to the amount of time you spend online gaslighting people on various sites?

          1. Oh. Haha. Question still stands for the real Jeff.

    2. SEC fans are backwards rubes.

      1. So are antisemitic serial killers with a taste for Mormon blood.

        1. If im so anti Semitic you should have no problem citing it?

          My offer still stands. Your Mormon pals would love it if you got rid of me…

  17. There’s a point in Shackford’s article, where he talks about Michael Flynn getting caught up in surveillance of a legitimate Russian target, and then after he mentions Flynn, Shackford goes on to talk about the unmasking being a potential problem in Carlson’s case.

    The interesting thing about the Flynn case, however, isn’t that Carlson was caught up in surveillance for the same legitimate reasons as Flynn. It’s that Carlson may have been unmasked within the department like Flynn was–for the same reasons Flynn was–and, yeah, that’s exactly what happened to Flynn when he was being railroaded.

    This is from NPR about the list of names that were released of all the people who requested that Flynn be unmasked:

    “Officials in the Obama administration request the name of this person, not knowing who it is but then finding out that it’s Flynn. The process works. It’s approved. The material is sent over to these administration officials.

    Now, we don’t know exactly who read it and who didn’t, but Joe Biden was one of those involved. We do know that. Flynn ultimately lasted less than a month in office.”

    —-NPR, May 13, 2020

    Why were so many officials in the Obama administration unmasking people–who were out of bounds for surveillance–and how did Flynn’s name make it into the press? We don’t know the answer to that last question.

    Yeah, the press could have gotten Flynn’s name from the Russians.

    On the other hand, the FBI under the Obama administration was perpetrating surveillance of the Trump campaign with a FISA warrant they obtained on the basis of opposition research from the Hillary Clinton campaign that they submitted to the court but knew to be unreliable.

    And somebody was feeding that information to the press, too!

    If the same tactics are being used by some of the same people in the same way in order to unmask Carlson, today, it is NOT absurd for Carlson to suspect they were doing it for the same reasons with the same motives–to destroy the credibility of someone they consider a political enemy.

    In the face of uncertainty, our default stance doesn’t need to be Pollyanna. Carlson’s being unmasked by someone in the Biden administration. Let’s all play the glad game!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ihxyf7A1hg

    1. There’s also the simple fact that everything else Carlson claimed he was told by the whistleblower turned out to be true.

      1. It’s not happening.

        Well, ok it’s happening but it’s not as bad as you think.

        Ok, it’s happening exactly like you said, but it’s all perfectly normal and above board. Get used to it.

        1. “Biden’s DOJ Vows to Stop Spying on Journalists”

          —-Democracy Now!

          https://www.democracynow.org/2021/6/7/jameel_jaffer_doj_surveillance_fisa

          It wasn’t the Justice Department this time, so . . . ahem . . . we weren’t lying.

          1. P.S. It’s actually better when the DOJ has to get a subpoena.

            1. Per axios the two Russian contacts are domestic based, so technically shouldn’t there be a FISA warrant involved here?

            2. I agree with you Ken.

  18. Wow. You are just absurdly credulous about the NSA’s claims.

    Look, if the NSA wants to wiretap somebody, call them Bob, who it would be embarassing to be found to be targeting, the find somebody fairly near Bob, and make THEM the nominal target. Call this patsy Tim.

    Then they allow themselves THREE ‘hops’. First, they wiretap anybody who communicates with Tim. That’s the first hop, and they end up wiretapping Jane.

    Then they wiretap everybody who communicates with Jane. That’s the second hop.

    Oh, look, purely by coincidence, (Wink, wink!) Jane communicated recently with Bob. So they wiretap Bob. That’s their third hop.

    So they can now tell anybody who inquires that they weren’t targeting Bob, or anybody he knows, he just got swept up incidentally.

    But the truth is, they were after Bob all the time.

    That’s what they did to Trump, which is why so many people around him were being wiretapped, and it’s certainly possible that’s what they did to Carlson.

    1. Thank God I don’t know Jane. And stopped talking with Tim years ago. I’m safe right?

    2. and it’s certainly possible that’s what they did to Carlson.

      Oh give me a break.

      My rule of thumb is that when some scenario sounds like something you would read in a bad spy thriller novel, then it’s probably false.

      1. My rule of thumb is that, when somebody accuses the government of doing something, and the government publicly denies doing something which is conspicuously a DIFFERENT thing from what they were actually accused of, yup, the government is probably guilty.

        Because if the were innocent of what Carlson actually accused him of, they’d have had no problem with denying they’d did THAT.

        1. Here is Tucker Carlson’s actual accusation:

          TUCKER CARLSON: It’s not just political protesters the government is spying on, yesterday, we heard from a whistleblower within the US government who reached out to warn us that the NSA, the National Security Agency, is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air.

          Now, that’s a shocking claim and ordinarily would be skeptical of it. It’s illegal for the NSA to spy on American citizens. It’s a crime. It’s not a third-world country. Things like that should not happen in America. But unfortunately, they do happen, and in this case, they did happen. The whistleblower who is in a position to know repeated back to us information about a story that we are working on that could have only come directly from my texts and emails. There’s no other possible source for that information, period.

          The NSA captured that information without our knowledge and did it for political reasons. The Biden administration is spying on us.

          So the substance of Carlson’s allegation is that Biden directed the NSA to spy on him for political reasons, to take his show off the air. That is what the NSA responded to and that is what they denied. You are right that they didn’t say that they never looked at Carlson’s emails. But they did respond directly to what they were actually accused of.

          It is still wrong for the NSA to snoop on Carlson’s emails, but the argument that “they didn’t deny it therefore they’re guilty” doesn’t hold water in this case because they did deny what they were substantively accused of in this case.

          1. The substance is that the NSA unmasked him and were leaking the information to reporters you retarded fuck.

          2. they did deny what they were substantively accused of in this case.
            You are ignoring the article attached to these comments.
            The NSA rarely publicly responds to any accusations.

            They did this time. They did not say they never monitored Carlson’s communication.
            The NSA said Tucker Carlson is not, nor ever has been a target under investigation. The NSA could have just as easily said they have never collected any of Carlson’s communications. But they worded their statement to fool the easily fooled, like you.

            Are you aware FISA Judges have done 4 different audits of the NSA 702 lookups? Those are data mining lookups. Enter a phone number, email address, web site username, time line, and get a return of ALL those communications. The audit revealed over 80% of those look ups are illegal. The guilty are Private contractors working under the authority and supervision of the FBI. Each time the Judge that did the audit , informed the FBI. Both Comey and Wray have taken zero actions to address the crimes comited by….the FBI. The “Boss” of the FISA court is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Roberts is also green lighting the crimes committed.

      2. Your real rule of thumb is when something reflects poorly on the Democrats or aids their enemies, you’re paid to attack it.

      3. Oh fuck, chemjeff, you are a naive fucking moron. Jesus Christ. What idiotic thrillers do you read where something that obvious can even pass for a plot?

    3. You know, I am beginning to believe that a willingness to accept even the battiest conspiracy theories is a necessary component of the libertarian ethos.

      1. Three degrees of Osama Bin Laden

        I’m willing to consider almost anything. I’m a bit reluctant to consider uncritically trusting the NSA.

        1. This is the state of liberaltarianism today–a paradigm so unctuous, so insecure, and so mired in middle-school level emotional development, that it literally acts as apologist for government and left-wing social abuses when it targets people they don’t like, all while accusing others of tribalism.

          And then they get the surprised Pikachu face when their opponents decide to play the game by the rules their lefty boos set.

          1. To be fair, Jeff isn’t even a liberaltarianismist. He’s a petty authoritarian running cover for the party who pays him.

      2. Tell us again about Mueller and Trump/Russia.

  19. Who the fuck is Tucker Carlson?

    1. An overly self-important conservative commentator, but that doesn’t mean the NSA wasn’t trying to screw him over.

    2. Someone we don’t like, so NSA spying is at worst, possibly illegal and at best, applied against someone who deserved it anyway because Putin/Trump.

      1. Except he’s lying. He lies.

        1. Projection again Tony?

          Color me surprised….

  20. “Flynn got in trouble with the feds not for what he said but for lying about it and covering up the conversations.”

    In point of fact, the agents that interviewed him thought that he had simply made an honest mistake, since they were asking him about a phone conversation months earlier, without allowing him to access any records.

    Then afterwards the report was altered by somebody else to characterize it as Flynn lying, so they’d have a basis for going after him, bankrupting him and attempting to turn him to be evidence against Trump.

    1. And the actual transcript shows Flynn told the truth.

    2. Shush. Stick with the narrative.

    3. dude don’t come up in here acting like you know more lol

    4. Yes. The FBI manufactured evidence to get Flynn. The FBI lied on several FISA warrants to “backdoor” surveil Trump.

      Nothing of subsequence will happen to those people.

      Not a fan of Trump, but if they can do that to the POTUS, they can do it to us.

  21. Domestic terrorists are big fans of Tucker, but unless he’s communicating with them then he shouldn’t be targeted by the NSA.

    I doubt he’s in bed with far right terrorists. I think he just panders to them for ratings.

    ML defending him in 3,2,1…

    1. This from the antisemite who regularly issues death threats against other commenters because of their religious beliefs.

      Go fuck yourself you cheap Jew-hating fascist.

      1. Please cite me being anti Semitic or shut your lying mouth bitch!

        1. Don’t need to we just need to punch your face repeatedly.

          You are a cock sucking bitch and laughably stupid.

  22. Well that whistleblower probably has black SUVs in his driveway right now. Poor bastard.

    That is what they did to the guys prior to Snowden. Feds ruined their life and they went through all the proper whistleblower procedures. One of the reason, Snowden stated he acted the way he did; fleeing the country.

    1. Didn’t you hear? The whistleblower doesn’t exist. It was just a lie by Carlson.

  23. “Be careful! His bowtie is really a camera!”

  24. How exactly could Carlson’s “source at the NSA” have uncovered a secret illegal plot to leak info? I just don’t believe it.

    1. Because they were already actively leaking it to other journalists. I know that you’re a cheap shill Jacob, but do try to keep up.

  25. Whether Flynn lied to the FBI is very arguable. 30 year military veteran with combat experience should mean something about his honor. He knew the call in question was being monitored. He had no real reason to lie. Most likely his version of what he said and the version on the tape were slightly different in wording but not effect, and who remembers the exact wording on every issue they discuss? More likely is that the FBI -gunning for someone to turn on Trump – wrote the 302 as to implicate Flynn. The original 302 went missing and one that was edited was used in the proceedings. Considering the poor behavior of the FBI in this whole episode I give Flynn the benefit of the doubt.

    1. And so should Reason. Reason has no excuse for believing the FBI or the Obama Justice Department would act in good faith against a political enemy.

  26. It’s the NSA’s job to spy on imminent threats to America.

    Where is this gonna go? Is the Republicult going to spontaneously start moderating, just when it was getting a taste of violent revolution and making lists of all the types of undesirables they want to correct?

    How many universities remain un-purged? How many corporations are still woke?

    You know how it is with purges. You can’t hold it in and carry on with something else. First you purge, then you flush, then paradise.

    Tucker Carlson is more dangerous than any radical islamist because propaganda is the principal tool of the fascist. Is Tucker lying? Fascists don’t lie, they bend truth to their will.

    1. Tony
      July.7.2021 at 1:57 pm

      It would be a mistake to take my posts too seriously, as I have no deeply held beliefs.

      1. One shouldn’t take anyone’s opinion too seriously, least of all that of a mentally ill orange fat man with the vocabulary of a 5 year old.

        1. How far does 50 cents stretch nowadays? Must be a tough life.

    2. It’s the NSA’s job to spy on imminent threats to America.
      And leak the results to the media?

      Yep, the NSA fulfilling their mission of picking political sides and tipping the scales to their favor.

    3. Well still the dumbest poster on here. You haven’t lost your touch

  27. This coverage leaves out the ‘meat’ of the event.

    First. The NSA get to read Carlson’s emails texts, and phone logs. ALL OF THEM.
    Second. The NSA get to “hops” past Carlson. Everyone he communicates with is swept up. AND everyone they communicate with gets swept up. That means if Carlson calls Nunnes Chief of staff and the chief of staff calls Nunnes, All of Nunnes’ communications get swept up.
    Third. That this is allowed is a crime against our Republic. But the real crime is what a small cabal of NSA spooks can do with the information. What damage could be done with leaked documents a month before and election?
    We know the IC is a corrupt power hungry bureaucracy. Of course the leaked Carlson’s email to the press to harm him. If not, exactly why would the risk criminal charges?

    This piece vastly understates the crime committed here. I heard some bubble head on msdnc cackle about this yesterday afternoon, mocking the whole thing. I totally expected them to provide cover. But Reason? Why is Reason running interference for the corrupt IC (intelligence community)

  28. FFS Reason. This is maybe the dumbest article you ever published and that is a very high bar.

    The fact that you have some lobotomy posters here defending the NSA spying is also disturbing. Isn’t there a communist site somewhere that you can go to?

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