How did one of the world's largest search engine companies wind up deciding to collaborate with the one federal agency most renowned for spooky spying?

Let's review. Someone hacked Google. Google hacked right back. Then Google decided to piss some people off by refusing to continue censoring search results in China—the country of origin for the original cyberattacks.

Now the big G is working with some G-men in hopes of gaining "more certainty about the identity of the attackers." According to the NYT, there's also a rather good reason that Google choose the NSA out of all the government agencies around:

By turning to the N.S.A., which has no formal legal authority to investigate domestic criminal acts, instead of the Department of Homeland Security, which does have such authority, Google is clearly seeking to avoid having its search engine, e-mail and other Web services regulated as part of the nation's "critical infrastructure."

That along with remarks that the agreement between Google and the NSA "will not permit the agency to have access to information belonging to Google users" is hardly enough to comfort any paranoid minds, but what are we supposed to do? The deal's made. [NY Times]