Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Activity Rises Sharply

05.01.06 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Electronic surveillance and physical searches conducted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) reached a new record high in 2005, according to the latest annual report to Congress on FISA.

“During calendar year 2005, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) approved 2,072 applications for authority to conduct electronic surveillance and physical search,” the new annual report stated.

“The FISC made substantive modifications to the Government’s proposed orders in 61 of those applications. The FISC did not deny, in whole or in part, any application filed by the Government during calendar year 2005.”

In 2004 (pdf), by comparison, there were 1,754 such authorizations.

By definition, these data do not reflect the controversial warrantless surveillance activities that the Bush Administration has conducted outside of the legal framework of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, in what is arguably a criminal violation of the law.

The new annual report to Congress for the first time included data on applications made by the Government for access to business records for foreign intelligence purposes; and on the use of National Security Letters to obtain information concerning United States persons.

See the FISA Annual Report for Calendar Year 2005, dated April 28, 2006.