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WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 — The Bush administration has confirmed for the first time that American telecommunications companies played a crucial role in the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program after asserting for more than a year that any role played by them was a “state secret.”
The acknowledgment was in an unusual interview that Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, gave last week to The El Paso Times in which he disclosed details on classified intelligence issues that the administration has long insisted would harm national security if discussed publicly.