Electronic Surveillance Statistics for 2005

wiretap2.jpgThe Department of Justice (DOJ) has released its annual report on the number of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders, Wiretap Act orders, and National Security Letters issued in 2005.

For FISA surveillance orders, 2072 applications were made to the FISA court; none were denied. Over the past few years, the number of orders has been steadily increasing:

2005 — 2072 applications approved

2004 — 1758 applications approved

2003 — 1724 applications approved

2002 — 1228 applications approved

2001 — 934 applications approved

2000 — 1012 applications approved

1999 — 880 applications approved

In all, only 4 applications have ever been denied. More statistics are on EPIC’s FISA statistics page.

One wonders what the statisics would have been had the Bush Administration properly gone to the FISA court instead of engaging in secret wiretapping by the NSA.

In 2005, according to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, there were 1773 wiretap orders issued by courts under the Wiretap Act. In 2004, there were 1710 wiretap orders issued.

For the first time, statistics were released on the use of National Security Letters. According to the DOJ report:

During calendar year 2005, the Government made requests for certain information concerning 3,501 different United States persons pursuant to National Security Letters (NSLs). During this time frame, the total number of NSL requests (excluding NSLs for subscriber information) for information concerning U.S. persons totaled 9,254. In other words, there were 3,501 different U.S. persons involved in the total of 9,254 NSLs that related to U.S. persons.

According to the Washington Post:

The report, released late Friday, represents the first official count of NSL use. It was required under legislation that extended the USA Patriot Act anti-terrorism law.

The count does not include other such letters that are issued by the FBI to obtain more limited subscriber information from companies, such as a person’s name, address or other identifying data, according to the report. Sources have said that would include thousands of additional letters and may be the largest category of NSLs issued. The Washington Post reported in November that the FBI now issues more than 30,000 NSLs each year, including subscriber requests.

Related Posts:

1. Solove, National Security Letters (Nov. 2005)

2. Solove, More on National Security Letters (Nov. 2005)

3. Solove, Did President Bush Have the Legal Authority Under FISA to Authorize NSA Surveillance? (Dec. 2005)

You may also like...

3 Responses

  1. Marty Lederman says:

    “One wonders what the statisics would have been had the Bush Administration properly gone to the FISA court instead of engaging in secret wiretapping by the NSA.”

    Their success rate would have been *way* down. The reason they didn’t go to the FISA court for the NSA program is that the applications in those cases almost certainly would not have complied with FISA — they could not have shown probable cause to believe (i) that the target of the electronic surveillance is a foreign power or

    an agent of a foreign power, and (ii) that each of the facilities or places at which the electronic

    surveillance is directed is being used, or is about to be used, by a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power, 50 U.S.C. 1805(a)(3) — and therefore the FISA court would have rejected them.

  2. Andre Smith says:

    Isn’t the bigger question, how many of those wiretapped were eventually charged with a crime?

  3. Anonymous says:

    FCC APPROVES NET-WIRETAPPING TAXES. “Broadband providers and Internet phone companies will have to pick up the tab for the cost of building in mandatory wiretap access for police surveillance, federal regulators ruled Wednesday.” Read more: http://news.com.com/FCC+approves+Net-wiretapping+taxes/2100-1028_3-6067971.html?tag=nefd.lede