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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Now, the Bush admin is claiming the telcos are refusing to cooperate
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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Now, the Bush admin is claiming the telcos are refusing to cooperate

lord almighty... the bush administration is never going to stop playing the fear card...
Two top Bush administration officials said Friday that some telecommunications companies are resisting wiretapping orders for terrorists because a surveillance law expired nearly a week ago.

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and Attorney General Michael Mukasey made the assertion in a letter to Congress, the latest salvo in a rhetorical war between the White House and Capitol Hill over the law's expiration and the refusal of House Democrats to adopt a Senate-passed bill in its place.

The House has passed its own version of surveillance legislation. Democrats want to work out the differences between the bills rather than accept the Senate's version outright.

The two bills differ in one important way: The Senate bill provides retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that wiretapped American phone and computer lines at the government's request after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but without the permission of a secret court created 30 years ago to oversee such activities. The House does not provide telecom immunity.

President Bush has promised to veto any surveillance bill that does not protect the companies from civil lawsuits that allege violations of privacy and wiretapping laws under the warrantless wiretapping program.

McConnell predicted last week that the government's surveillance of terrorists would be harmed by the expiration of the law. He and Mukasey said that, six days after the law expired, that prediction has come true.

"We have lost intelligence information this past week as a direct result of the uncertainty created by Congress' failure to act," they wrote in a letter to Rep. Sylvestre Reyes, chairman of the House intelligence committee.

They said some private companies have delayed or refused compliance with requests to initiate wiretaps against people covered by orders issued under the expired law. They said most companies are cooperating, but some have suggested they will stop if "the uncertainty persists."

Senior administration officials refused Friday to specify which companies, or how many, were not cooperating. They said the companies believe the law's expiration means no changes can be made in existing orders, which can last for as long as a year. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

so, we've got to go to those telecoms and tell them, "look, we know we 'forced' you to break the law, and we know we told you we'd fix everything up for you, but we didn't expect that breaking the law was going to cause so much fuss, so just hang in there and keep on breaking the law, and we'll keep trying to change the law so that you won't have to break it any more, ok...?"

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