Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence, admitted in an interview with the El Paso Times that telephone companies had assisted the federal government's domestic wiretapping program. Telcos have been sued over what has been termed "alleged" involvement in that program, but a major hurdle to those lawsuits had been that neither the government nor the telcos would acknowledge the connection.
There's some speculation McConnell's admission was intended to spur Congress to give retroactive legal immunity to telcos and others involved in past wiretapping, but it's not clear that will happen, and the admission only seems to strengthen the lawsuits. Unless the telcos being sued figure out a way to show they didn't have a choice, things may get worse before they get better. The ironic hero in all of this is former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio. The convicted insider trader reportedly declined to allow the feds to use Qwest's network to wiretap.
- Read this story in The New York Times