So it's true: Tucker Carlson got the General Mike Flynn treatment

When Tucker Carlson first said that the National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on him, various leftist media outlets had a good laugh.  However, that laughter became a bit forced when the NSA issued a letter that merely denied "targeting" Tucker.  The obvious implication was that the NSA had gotten to him as an incidental person while targeting someone else.  The NSA also didn't bother to explain how it was that it unmasked Tucker.

There's no laughter now.  It's clear that the NSA did spy on Tucker, that it illegally unmasked him, and that it even more illegally leaked to one or more media outlets the information it gathered.

On Wednesday night, Tucker explained that he was trying to do what many other outlets have successfully done, which was to get an interview with Vladimir Putin.  There is nothing illegal about an American media outlet trying to interview the leader of a foreign nation that is not actively at war with the United States.  However, Tucker's request apparently triggered the "hop" rule that allows the NSA to cast a net far wider than its original target would allow.

Back in 2013, when the left was still paranoid about American government spy agencies, instead of madly in love with them (provided that they attacked anyone connected with President Trump), The Guardian explained the hop rule's reach:

You don't need to be talking to a terror suspect to have your communications data analysed by the NSA. The agency is allowed to travel "three hops" from its targets — who could be people who talk to people who talk to people who talk to you. Facebook, where the typical user has 190 friends, shows how three degrees of separation gets you to a network bigger than the population of Colorado. How many people are three "hops" from you?

If you go to the linked page, you can see how exponentially large the "incidental" target group becomes thanks to the hop rules.  For example, if you have 50 friends, the NSA can spy on those friends, as well as 8,170 second-degree friends, and another 1,334,978 third-degree friends.  Expand your friend group to 1,000 friends, and the NSA has a pool of 163,400 second-degree friends to spy upon and 26,699,560 third-degree friends to check out.

Even worse than being spied on, though, is the fact that Tucker got the Michael Flynn treatment: he was unmasked and the information leaked.  Both things are grossly illegal.  The government is allowed to spy only on foreign targets.  Domestic targets are "incidental" and must be protected.  Anyone in the government who wants to unmask these incidental targets must prove that the information is within his mandate and that he has an absolute need to know this information.  Admiral Mike Rogers explained how this works:

Given how confidential this information is, leaking it ought to see heads rolling.  However, as Glenn Greenwald told Tucker, the people involved in leaking General Flynn's information suffered no consequences.  Instead, it's the politicians — the ones who should be stopping this — who are too terrified to act:

America's intelligence agencies are completely out of control.  Thanks to a completely quiescent media establishment that emerges only to cheer on the spies, we have suddenly become a Stasi or KGB state, one in which the government is spying on everyone.

As an aside, Tucker had suggested on Tuesday night that we should have cameras in America's classrooms, which I think is a splendid idea.  Teachers are employees taking care of America's children, and the parents should know what's going on.  However, when Matt Walsh picked up on this suggestion, people complained that watching our children's classrooms is spying.  As Walsh explained, they've got it completely backward:

Something is very badly out of whack in America when citizens are prevented from checking up on the public servants "teaching" their children, while the government violates privacy laws, spies on citizens, leaks the information, and has so much power over politicians that nothing can be done about this illegal activity.

Image: NSA spied on Tucker Carlson.  YouTube screen grab.

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