The internal watchdog for the National Security Agency (NSA) said on Tuesday it was launching an inquiry into allegations that the agency had improperly spied on a member of the US news media.
The inspector general’s office did not identify the reporter or media outlet at the heart of its review, but the development comes a few months after Fox News conservative host Tucker Carlson claimed he had heard from a whistleblower who told him the NSA was monitoring his communications in a plot to leak them and force him off the air.
In late June, the NSA took the unusual step of publicly denying those allegations.
“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,” the NSA said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Inspector General Robert Storch said in a written statement his office “is examining NSA’s compliance with applicable legal authorities and Agency policies and procedures regarding collection, analysis, reporting, and dissemination activities, including unmasking procedures, and whether any such actions were based upon improper considerations.”
The inspector general’s office declined to comment further.
The Wall Street Journal quoted an unidentified person saying the review concerns Carlson.
Fox News, a unit of Fox Corp, is “gratified” to learn the alleged surveillance “will now be independently investigated,” a spokesperson said. “As we have said, for the NSA to unmask Tucker Carlson or any journalist attempting to secure a newsworthy interview is entirely unacceptable.”
An NSA spokesperson said the agency “remains fully committed to the rigorous and independent oversight provided by the NSA Inspector General’s office.”