A Fox News producer sent an extremely broad Freedom of Information Act request to the National Security Agency last week seeking evidence that officials were spying on host Tucker Carlson, according to a copy of the request obtained by BuzzFeed News via a separate FOIA request.
The NSA has vehemently denied Carlson's claims — supposedly based on information from a whistleblower — that he is being spied on by the Biden administration.
"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,” NSA officials said.
Under federal law, the NSA must obtain a court order in order to purposefully eavesdrop on US citizens and can only do so if they suspect the American may be working with a foreign target.
A copy of the original FOIA request from Fox News shows it did not contain any detailed information and was extremely broad — in effect forcing the massive federal agency to search the communications of every one of its employees to see if they had ever mentioned Carlson in passing.
"I am requesting any call records, texts, or emails the NSA has obtained from journalist Tucker Carlson's cell phone or email," wrote Alex Pfeiffer, investigative producer for Tucker Carlson Tonight. "I am requesting any memos or documents related to surveilling journalist Tucker Carlson. I am requesting any communication between NSA officials regarding journalist Tucker Carlson."
The date range of the documents requested was between June 28, 2021 (when it was filed at 10:08 a.m.) and Jan. 1, 2019 — long before Biden was president.
The file shows the request was assigned a case number and placed on hold while awaiting input from the Office of General Counsel, indicating it was seen as a high-profile request.
Carlson repeatedly broadcasts false conspiracy theories to his millions of viewers.
Despite his extraordinary claims about the NSA, which would be a massive breach of federal law if true, Fox News reporters have devoted little airtime to covering the allegations.
A Fox News spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment as to whether they stood by Carlson's claims.
Jason Leopold is a senior investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He is a 2018 Pulitzer finalist for international reporting, recipient of the IRE 2016 FOI award and a 2016 Newseum Institute National Freedom of Information Hall of Fame inductee.
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