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EPIC's David Sobel: Government wiretap figures are misleading



Previous Politech message:

"Secret FISA court approved fewer surveillance applications in 2001"
http://www.politechbot.com/p-03468.html

---

Date: Wed, 1 May 2002 11:35:17 -0400
To: declan@well.com
From: David Sobel <sobel@epic.org>
Subject: Re: FC: Secret FISA court approved fewer surveillance applications 
in 2001

Declan -

These numbers need to be taken with a very large grain of salt.
Ashcroft himself pretty much acknowledged this in Ted Bridis' AP
report:

 >Attorney General John Ashcroft said Tuesday the new Patriot Act, which
 >amended the 1978 surveillance statute, made it easier for authorities
 >to request fewer warrants since they don't expire as quickly and can
 >be used in some cases across jurisdictions.
 >
 >"The Patriot Act provides some measures of efficiency that can be of
 >assistance to us, and I think it would be fair to interpret the data
 >in light of that," Ashcroft said.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20020430/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/terror_wiretaps_2

Among other things, the PATRIOT Act also authorizes what DOJ has
characterized as "generic" FISA orders which allow one warrant to
be served on multiple service providers.  These new numbers underscore
the inadequacy of the current reporting requirements; we really need
to know how many individuals and how many communications facilities
were covered by these orders.

- David


 >Politech archive on FISA:
 >http://www.politechbot.com/cgi-bin/politech.cgi?name=fisa
 >
 >EFF "frequently asked questions" on FISA:
 >http://www.eff.org/Censorship/Terrorism_militias/fisa_faq.html
 >
 >---
 >
 >http://www.fas.org/irp/news/2002/04/fisa01.html
 >
 >
 >                       Office of the Attorney General
 >                            Washington, DC 20530
 >
 >                               April 29, 2002
 >
 >     Mr. L. Ralph Meacham
 >     Director, Administrative Office of the United States Courts
 >     Washington, D.C. 20544
 >
 >     Dear Mr. Meacham:
 >
 >     This report is submitted pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence
 >     Surveillance Act of 1978, Title 50, United States Code, Section
 >     1807, as amended.
 >
 >     During calendar year 2001, 932 applications were made to the
 >     Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for electronic surveillance
 >     and physical search. The Court approved 934 applications in 2001.
 >     Two of the 934 applications were filed with the Foreign
 >     Intelligence Surveillance Court in December 2000 and approved in
 >     January 2001. Two orders and two warrants were modified by the
 >     Court. No orders were entered which denied the requested authority.
 >
 >   Sincerely,
 >       Larry D. Thompson
 >       Acting Attorney General
 >     _________________________________________________________________
 >
 >   Source: Justice Department hardcopy; HTML by FAS
 >
 >
 >
 >
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-- 
.......................................................................
David L. Sobel, General Counsel              *   +1 202 483 1140 (tel)
Electronic Privacy Information Center        *   +1 202 483 1248 (fax)
1718 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Suite 200        *   sobel@epic.org
Washington, DC 20009   USA                   *   http://www.epic.org


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