Domestic Surveillance Court Approved All 1,506 Warrant Applications in 2010
The secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved all 1,506 government requests to electronically monitor suspected “agents” of a foreign power or terrorists on U.S. soil last year, according to a Justice Department report released under the Freedom of Information Act.
The two-page report, which shows about a 13 percent increase in the number of applications for electronic surveillance between 2009 and 2010, was obtained by the Federation of American Scientists and published Friday.
“The FISC did not deny any applications in whole, or in part,” according to the April 19 report to Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).
The 11-member court denied two of 1,329 applications for domestic-intelligence surveillance in 2009. The FBI is the primary agency making those requests.
Whether the FISA court, whose business is conducted behind closed doors, is rubber-stamping the requests is a matter of debate.
“That’s been a traditional concern that the court might have become a rubber stamp and that it’s approval is only a formality,” Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists, said by telephone. “The government’s argument, and it’s also an argument that has been made occasionally by the judges, is in fact the Justice Department has grasped the court’s expectations so well that the only applications they submit to the court are ones that are likely to meet its approval.”
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