House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy released a statement on Wednesday that he is seeing disturbing trends from the National Security Agency. Citing this concern, McCarthy asked House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Member Devin Nunes to investigate the matter.
"For the past several months, I have seen a disturbing trend at the National Security Agency," McCarthy stated. "Given this disturbing trend, I've asked HPSCI Ranking Member Devin Nunes to investigate and find answers on behalf of the American people. The NSA cannot be used as a political instrument, and House Republicans will ensure accountability and transparency."
McCarthy's concern revolves around the NSA not disclosing information requested by the Republican Members on the House Intelligence Committee who are trying to fulfill their oversight responsibilities.
McCarthy added that "now, there is a public report that NSA read the emails of Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Although NSA publicly denied targeting Carlson, I have serious questions regarding this matter that must be answered."
The rules governing NSA surveillance mention that the agency can surveil foreign actors but would need a warrant to surveil Americans, which it can get through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). However, according to Ashkan Soltani, a senior fellow at Georgetown University, the NSA's XKeyscore program enables analysts to review information indiscriminately so long as they are not tagged as belonging to an American. In other words, an analyst could inadvertently be viewing an American's information without penalty.
"Earlier this year, I sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Austin expressing concern over the politicization of the Agency through the sidelining of Michael Ellis as NSA General Counsel. I asked that Mr. Ellis be reinstated and expressed my concern regarding undue political influence in NSA placing Mr. Ellis on administrative leave," McCarthy said.
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