NSA Deepens Tense Alliance with Telecoms

Both sides await word on possible immunity for carriers
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2007 2:33 PM CST
NSA Use Of Phone Company Data Sparks Controversy   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The telecom industry will be all ears to proceedings beginning tomorrow on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers will decide if companies helping the government’s warrantless surveillance program should receive immunity. President Bush personally lobbied Congress to further the NSA’s tenuous alliance with the industry, whose members are increasingly resistant to phone record requests, the New York Times reports.

The defiance comes as the NSA seeks help in areas beyond terrorism: One carrier rejected pleas to hand over customer records in a narcotics trafficking case. The transmission of international communications by land and undersea cables, instead of by air, has complicated NSA’s efforts. An ex-AT&T engineer who worked on a project monitoring global communications said, “I started feeling something isn’t right.”