View Full Version : U.S. Use Of Secret Warrants Rises

05-02-2006, 10:42 AM
US use of secret warrants rises



The number of court-approved warrants allowing the US government to run secret surveillance in the US rose 18% last year, the Justice Department says.

Some 2,072 applications were made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a report to House leaders said.

The FBI issued about 9,200 "national security letters" seeking information about 3,500 US citizens or legal residents in 2005, the report added.

The figures give the latest measure of expanding US anti-terrorism activities.

These include a range of powers aimed at monitoring suspicious behaviour and preventing attacks - criticised by some as intrusive and lacking in proper oversight.

But the warrants are not related to the domestic spying programme that President George W Bush authorised the National Security Agency to conduct soon after the 9/11 attacks.

Personal information
The NSA program allows the authorities to monitor the international e-mails and phone calls of US citizens without obtaining warrants while in pursuit of terror suspects.

National security letters allow the FBI to demand disclosure of personal information - such as from banks or internet service providers - without the approval of a judge or grand jury.

The report represents the first official count of NSL use. It was required under legislation that extended the USA Patriot Act anti-terrorism law.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was established in 1978 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

It made substantial modifications to 61 government warrant applications last year, the report revealed, but it denied no warrant application filed in 2005.