Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Secret surveillance up sharply since 9/11

Yahoo! News reports Federal applications for a special U.S. court to authorize secret surveillance rose sharply after the September 11, 2001, attacks, and the panel required changes to the requests at an even greater rate, government documents show.

And people wonder why he did not use FISA all the time.
President George W. Bush acknowledged this month he had secretly ordered the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the international phone conversations and e-mail of Americans suspected of links to terrorists without approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The domestic spying order has set off a furious debate over whether the war on terrorism gives Bush a blank check when it comes to civil liberties and whether the president, in fact, broke the law. The Justice Department's reports to the U.S. Congress on the surveillance court's activities show the Bush administration made 5,645 applications for electronic surveillance and physical searches from 2001 through 2004, the most recent year for which figures are available. In the previous four years, the court received a total of 3,436. The 11-judge panel modified 179 of the Bush administration's requests. By contrast, only one was modified in the preceding four years.
And how many potential terrorist acts might have been aided by those 179 modifications.
The court has reportedly handled almost 20,000 applications since it was set up and has rejected only a handful.

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