Government steps up electronic surveillance

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

Declan McCullagh Former Senior Writer
Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.
Declan McCullagh
A secretive court has authorized more surveillance related to terrorism and espionage than ever before, according to Justice Department 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.