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Thu May 1, 2014, 08:08 AM

The US Surveillance Court Hasn't Turned Down an NSA Request This Decade

Last year, the federal government asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for the authority to conduct electronic surveillance 1,588 times. Guess how many were turned down? Not a single one.

According to a letter sent from Peter Kadzik of the Department of Justice to Vice President Joe Biden and a host of important lawmakers (Sens. Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, and Dianne Feinstein, Congressmen Mike Rogers, John Boehner, and a few others), the FISC never turned down a government request to conduct electronic surveillance and only made modifications in 34 of the 1,588 applications. Even if those modifications were substantial, that’s a shocking statistic.

Or, maybe it shouldn’t be. In 2012, FISC didn’t turn down any of the 1,789 government applications to conduct electronic surveillance, either. Same with 2011, and 2010. The last time it turned down an application was 2009, when it denied one.

Of course, much of what happens on the FISC court is completely secret, so we’ll likely never know what the modifications were. It was only last year that we actually saw a FISC court order, when Glenn Greenwald obtained a copy of one that ordered Verizon to turn over millions’ of customers metadata.



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