A few days ago, popular Fox News host Tucker Carlson issued some damning and rather shocking allegations live on his own show that the NSA had been spying on him and his producers and reading their private communications.

Carlson has said in multiple segments that have been devoted to this matter since June 28 that a government whistleblower has informed him of this. Carlson said that the whistleblower knew things that only someone who read those communications could know, which confirmed to him that he and his show were, in fact, being spied on.

In response, the NSA has issued a statement. Predictably, people all over the media and the political spectrum have been responding to the story.

Some have noted the mealy-mouthed and suspiciously worded nature of the NSA’s response, while others have simply used the statement to claim that Carlson is lying.

The NSA Is Spying on Everyone It Doesn’t Like

The NSA’s statement read as follows: “On June 28, 2021, Tucker Carlson alleged that the National Security Agency has been ‘monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air.’ This allegation is untrue. 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 has a foreign intelligence mission. We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that could harm the United States.

With limited exceptions (e.g., an emergency), NSA may not target a US citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting.”

Note the wording of this statement. It says that Carlson has never been “an intelligence target” of the NSA, but this, even if true, is still consistent with the NSA having spied on him and his producers. As anyone who knows how the NSA arranges its spying dragnet can tell you, the NSA first finds some formal intelligence target, typically a foreigner. The agency examines all of that person’s communications. On blatantly spurious so-called “national security” grounds, it then spies on all of the communications of all of the people with whom that foreign target has ever communicated, including Americans.

In this way, the NSA can rope virtually anyone into its spying dragnet. It can spy on virtually anyone without “targeting” them. Reporter Glenn Greenwald pointed out exactly this in his own tweets on the matter. He also pointed out that the NSA has disabled direct Twitter responses to its statement.

Other Twitter users also pointed out that the NSA actually conflates Carlson’s two distinct accusations into one.