Catherine Mortensen / July 1, 2021

Dems’ Shameful Legacy of Spying on Journalists

Tucker Carlson’s allegations of NSA activity are more than worrisome.

Fox New host Tucker Carlson is making the explosive claim that the Biden administration’s National Security Agency (NSA) is spying on him. While corporate media shows no journalistic curiosity in investigating this claim, it doesn’t surprise us at Americans for Limited Government, because Biden is continuing the same policies of his former boss, President Barack Obama.

As John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things,” and the fact is that Democrats have a shameful history of using the vast resources of the federal government to go after journalists.

Carlson says the NSA was “spying” on him in an effort to “take this show off the air” and added that the “war on terror is now being waged against American citizens.” He explained that the show had heard from a “whistleblower from within the U.S. government” who informed Carlson and producers that the NSA is “monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air.”

“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,” he added. “There’s no other possible source for that information, period.”

Carlson believes “the NSA captured that information without our knowledge and did it for political reasons.”

Carlson said his show had sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request related to any alleged information gathered by the NSA and other agencies on his show.

Under Obama, the Federal Communications Commission tried to place news monitors into newsrooms to make certain approved topics were receiving enough coverage.

The federal government staged an early morning raid of a Washington Times reporter’s house under a false guise, and in the process seized her notes that included the names of whistleblowers within the Transportation Security Administration. Fox News and New York Times reporters have been subjected to federal investigations and court proceedings simply because they were doing their jobs. Associated Press reporters had their phones bugged by the Justice Department in a government leak investigation.

Former New York Times reporter James Risen wrote in 2016:

[The Obama administration] prosecuted nine cases involving whistle-blowers and leakers, compared with only three by all previous administrations combined. It has repeatedly used the Espionage Act, a relic of World War I-era red-baiting, not to prosecute spies but to go after government officials who talked to journalists. Under Mr. Obama, the Justice Department and the FBI have spied on reporters by monitoring their phone records, labeled one journalist an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case for simply doing reporting, and issued subpoenas to other reporters to try to force them to reveal their sources and testify in criminal cases.

The Biden Justice Department continued the Obama-era abuses. As Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan wrote earlier this month, “The department continued to pursue subpoenas for reporters’ email logs issued to Google, which operates the New York Times’ email systems, and it obtained a gag order compelling a Times attorney to keep silent about the fact that federal authorities were seeking to seize his colleagues’ records.”

The Biden DOJ “finally back[ed] down in the face of reporting about its conduct,” Ryan notes. But it has yet to respond to information requests from the Post, and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki “released a statement disavowing White House knowledge of the actions that appear to have continued for several months during Biden’s presidency.”

Then there’s a strange story from USA Today a couple of weeks ago. In April, the FBI “demanded the production of records containing IP addresses and other identifying information ‘for computers and other electronic devices’ that accessed” a USA Today story about a Florida shootout involving FBI agents “during a 35-minute time frame starting at 8:03 p.m. on the day of the shooting.”

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, wrote a blog earlier this year titled, “Barack Obama’s War on a Free Press,” in which it makes the case that Obama’s efforts to plug leaks and persecute leakers even exceeded those of George W. Bush’s administration.

The Obama administration’s contempt for the basic requirements of due process was alarming. As CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson noted, such a seizure was “unheard of.” Beyond the abusive display of power that those raids embodied, she was outraged that no advance notice was given to the AP about the subpoena. “Advance notice would have given AP the chance to challenge the move in court.” Of course, that predictable response likely was the reason the Justice Department did not follow such a procedure.

At the time, a coalition of 50 news organizations, including ABC, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Committee for Freedom of the Press, submitted a letter of protest to Attorney General Eric Holder about the raid.

It stated:

None of us can remember an instance where such an overreaching dragnet for newsgathering materials was deployed by the Department [of Justice], particularly without notice to the affected reporters or an opportunity to seek judicial review. The scope of this action calls into question the very integrity of the Department of Justice policies toward the press and its ability to balance, on its own, its police powers against the First Amendment rights of the news media and the public’s interest in reporting on all manner of conduct, including matters touching on national security which lie at the heart of this case.

Independent journalist and YouTuber Tim Pool said none of these abuses surprise him. Pool, who rose to fame covering the Occupy Wall Street movement, is a former host and producer for VICE media. He is known worldwide for his pioneering use of technology in journalism. He spoke out about the Carlson story this week on his YouTube channel.

“The people in power take that power and use it,” Pool said, “They are going to spy and we’re going to see an escalation of this. Politicians are weaponizing the power of government for their own political gains.”

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