Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) is calling for the National Security Agency to investigate allegations that it spied on Tucker Carlson, saying past abuses necessitate evidence to refute the Fox News host’s claims.
“The NSA must do more than tweet a carefully worded denial to be trusted,” Paul said on Twitter on Monday. The tweet followed a letter that Paul sent to NSA Director General Paul Nakasone last Friday, demanding that the agency investigate Carlson’s allegations.
The NSA must do more than tweet a carefully worded denial to be trusted. https://t.co/SVRkK1NrUN
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 12, 2021
Carlson late last month accused the NSA of spying on him – citing a “whistleblower” who had evidence that the Biden administration was monitoring his communications – and said the agency was leaking his messages to media outlets to fuel hit pieces and intimidate him.
Paul said he is “open-minded enough” to believe that the agency is telling the truth, if given “convincing evidence,” but he added that “when a long train of abuses conducted by the NSA evinces a consistent design to evade the law and violate the constitutionally protected liberties of the people, the NSA must do more than tweet a carefully worded denial to be trusted.”
Paul was referring to a rare public denial that the NSA posted on social media on June 29, saying “Tucker 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.”
A statement from NSA regarding recent allegations: pic.twitter.com/vduE6l6YWg
— NSA/CSS (@NSAGov) June 30, 2021
But as Carlson himself said that same night on his popular show, the NSA’s tweet didn’t address his claim that the agency read his private messages. “The question remains, did the Biden administration read my personal emails?” he said. Carlson added that, when asked the same question over the telephone, NSA officials repeatedly refused to answer and declined to say why they wouldn’t respond.
“The message was clear: ‘We can do whatever we want. We can read your personal texts, we can read your personal emails, we can send veiled threats your way to brush you back if we don’t like your politics. We can do anything. We’re our own country, and there’s literally nothing you can do about it. We’re in charge; you’re not.’”
The emails that were allegedly leaked to reporters concerned Carlson’s efforts to secure an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin. With rare exceptions, the NSA is legally limited to gathering intelligence on foreign threats, precluding the agency from spying on US citizens without a court order.
Paul said Nakasone can help restore the NSA’s credibility by being honest with the American people and explaining in detail whether it tapped Carlson’s emails, unmasked his identity, and leaked his private messages to members of the press.
“Only an investigation into the alleged surveillance and leak will determine the truth of the matter, and I demand that the NSA conduct such an investigation,” the senator said. He asked Nakasone to inform him of whether the probe will be done and, if the allegations prove true, whether he will pledge to bring the leakers to justice.
A federal appellate court found last year that the NSA’s mass surveillance of Americans’ telephone records – as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 – was unlawful, and that US intelligence officials who publicly defended the program were lying. The mass spying violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and may have been unconstitutional, the US Court of Appeals in San Francisco said.
Like this story? Share it with a friend!