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Former NSA Lawyer on Laura Ingraham’s Spying Theory: ‘I Don’t Think I’ve Ever Heard a More Uninformed Conversation’ About Intel


Fox News opinion host Laura Ingraham on Friday suggested that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-N.Y.) abused his power by working with the National Security Agency (NSA) to obtain Rep. Devin Nunes’s (R-Calif.) phone records. Ingraham was immediately contradicted by a former NSA attorney who said the host’s allegations were so uninformed that it was “honestly astonishing.”

The Ingraham Angle segment centered on the House Intel Panel’s Impeachment Report, which contained phone records showing Rep. Nunes phone contacts with the Rudy Giuliani and Giuliani’s recently indicted business associate Lev Parnas. Ingraham and her guest, Sara Carter, both claimed to have heard from a “knowledgeable source” that Schiff obtained Nunes’s records with the help of the NSA.

Carter has reportedly been barred from appearing on Fox News’s “hard news” shows because her reporting “is not vetted, and passes none of the network’s editorial guidelines.”

“A knowledgeable source tells the Ingraham Angle tonight that not only did Schiff get dirt from the secret subpoenas that he sent to phone companies, he also got help from the NSA. All Americans should be shocked by this and more, and demand a full and immediate investigation,” Ingraham said.

“I’ve heard the same,” Carter said, before launching into a diatribe against the Obama administration for expanding the NSA’s spying program.

Former NSA attorney and current CNN legal analyst Susan Hennessey immediately responded that the entire exchange had absolutely no basis in reality.

“Hi, former NSA lawyer here. This is not how it works. At all,” Hennessey wrote in response to the segment. “It’s not how the law works. It’s not how NSA works. It’s not how phone records work. That’s all. Have a good evening.”

But Hennessey wasn’t done. She called this “an unintelligence mess of people who don’t understand [Executive Order] 12333, FISA, Title III, ECPA, Gates Procedures, contact chaining…or honestly anything.”

Hennessey concluded that Ingraham’s segment was one of the most uninformed conversations she had ever heard.

“It’s honestly astonishing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more uninformed conversation about NSA or intelligence collection in my life. And I once had a relative corner me a wedding to say NSA was blackmailing John McCain into supporting immigration reform SO THE BAR IS REAL LOW,” she wrote.

In response to questions about how the panel obtained Nunes’s records, Patrick Boland, the top spokesman for Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, told The Daily Beast on Thursday that congressional investigators “did not subpoena call records for any member of Congress or their staff.” The report itself indicates that Nunes was picked up incidentally in the records of Giuliani and Parnas when AT&T call logs were subpoenaed.

National Security attorney Bradley Moss also weighed in on Ingraham-Carter segment, calling it “delusional” and “pathetic.”

[image via Fox News screengrab]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.