Wiretaps Continue Under Lapsed Law

Nervous phone firms agree to cooperate with government
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Feb 24, 2008 11:31 AM CST
Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, left, accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, right, speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Feb. 22, 2008. (AP...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – US spy agencies are continuing wiretap surveillance despite the fact that a law re-authorizing the administration's controversial program failed to pass a divided legislature last weekend. Telecommunications companies are cooperating with the government despite concerns, Reuters reports. Wiretaps will resume under the current law "at least for now," according to a joint statement yesterday by the Justice Department and Office of National Intelligence.

"Our private partners are cooperating, but they have expressed understandable misgivings about doing so in light of the ongoing uncertainty," the statement said. Temporary legislation authorizing warrantless wiretaps lapsed earlier amid a political battle over immunity for participating telecom firms. Congressional leaders have indicated they will pass new legislation supporting the program.