pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Sat May 10 03:46:41 EDT 2003

Subject:   FISA Taps

(from Edupage, May 09, 2003)

Privacy advocates and civil liberties groups report that the FBI
increasingly submits wiretap requests to the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Court, which was created in 1978 by the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), rather than to state and
federal courts. Warrants granted under FISA give broader authority
for searches than Title III wiretaps, granted by the courts, and
receive less scrutiny. Despite a report last year that the FBI had
misled FISA on 75 occasions, FISA has never rejected a wiretap
request. Last year the number of wiretap applications to FISA jumped
30 percent, from 934 to 1,228, while the number of wiretaps approved
by state and federal judges dropped from 1,491 to 1,359. Critics of
the system point out that the FISA court meets privately and all
records from the court's proceedings are sealed, even to those
prosecuted by FISA orders. Beryl Howell, who served as general
counsel for the Senate judiciary committee from 1993 to 2003, said,
"When it comes to FISA, there are virtually no reporting
requirements." Wired News, 9 May 2003

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