Government steps up electronic surveillance

Justice Department says a secretive court is authorizing more terrorism-related surveillance than ever before.

A secretive court has authorized more surveillance related to terrorism and espionage than ever before, according to Justice Department figures made public this week. 1,758 surveillance authorizations were approved and not one denied, up from 1,727 authorizations the year before.

The Justice Department figures submitted to Congress refer only to wiretaps, electronic surveillance and physical searches performed under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. (The FISA court is the subject of a legal and political debate over the Patriot Act, which enlarged the court's authority.) Last year's figures for other forms of wiretaps are not yet available.

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