Congress queries telecoms on wiretaps

Oct. 3, 2007 at 12:43 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. House committee that oversees telephone companies has asked three of them to disclose what they provided to National Security Agency wiretappers.

Three Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters to AT&T, Qwest and Verizon asking specifically what was provided to the warrantless NSA wiretapping program, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Committee Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., said he and Reps. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Bart Stupak, D-Mich., weren't satisfied with what little was known.

"Congress has a duty to inquire about whether (warrantless wiretapping) violates the Constitution, as well as consumer protection and privacy laws," Dingell told the Post.

In May 2006, USA Today reported several phone companies provided the NSA with access to customer phone records without the customers' knowledge or consent.

On the Senate side, Democrats on the Intelligence Committee are less inquisitive and reportedly have a consensus the companies should have some form of relief from the investigation, the report said.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration is pushing Congress to pass a bill giving cooperative companies immunity in breach of privacy lawsuits, the Post said.

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