Secret Wiretap Warrants Double Since 9/11

The number of secret warrants used in counterterrorism and espionage cases have more than doubled since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to an annual Justice Department report released today.

For 2007, the department confirms that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the secret court that approves such warrants, approved 2,370 requests, compared to 1012 in 2000.

The report is required under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the FBI to conduct court-approved secret domestic searches and wiretapping after presenting applications to the FISC for warrants.

In conjunction with the increased submissions made to the FISC, the Justice Department is also setting up a new Office of Intelligence to handle the increased FISA work. The Office of Intelligence will be part of the Justice Department's National Security Division.

According to the Justice Department, the FISC made substantive modifications to the government's proposed orders in 86 of those applications. The FISC completely denied three applications and denied one application in part, filed by the government during calendar year 2007.

Two applications filed in calendar year 2006 were not approved by the FISC until calendar year 2007

In 2006, the government submitted 2,181 applications to the court, which reviews the applications to conduct electronic and physical surveillance against suspected terrorists and spies.

Five of the applications were withdrawn, and the court approved a total of 2,176 applications in 2006.

One potential reason for the increase is the Bush administration's decision to move the National Security Agency's Terrorist Surveillance Program under the authority of the FISA Court.

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