Wiretaps up under Patriot Act

From the AP, April 1:

Washington – The government requested and won approval for a record number of special warrants last year for secret wiretaps and searches of suspected terrorists and spies, 75 percent more than in 2000, the Bush administration disclosed Friday.

Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella revealed the figure in an annual report to Congress. Last year’s total of 1,754 approved warrants was only slightly higher than the 1,724 approved in 2003. But the number has climbed markedly since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as authorities have moved aggressively against terror suspects. In 2000, there were 1,003 warrants approved under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Since passage of the Patriot Act, the FBI can use such warrants in investigations that aren’t mostly focused on foreign intelligence.

The revelation comes just as the Justice Department is lobbying Congress to extend provisions of the Patriot Act set to expire at year’s end, including those on secret wiretaps. (MSNBC, April 4) See also WW4 REPORT #61.