Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests up in 2012, but National Security Letters down

By SB Anderson

An annual government report on national security investigation legal probes involving foreign intelligence shows an uptick in requests to do surveillance or searches of people suspected of being involved in terrorism against the U.S.  

Law enforcement officials made 1,856 so-called “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Requests”to a special panel of judges in 2012 and all of them were approved, an annual report from the Department of Justice this week showed.  In 40 cases, the judicial review panel asked for modifications; in one case, the government withdrew its request. 

That total was 6% higher than 2011, when 1,745 requests were made. 

Nearly all the requests in 2012 and 2011 — 96% — were for authority to conduct surveillance. The remainder were for physical searches. 

National Security Letters issues by the the FBI were down about 8%, dropping to 15,229. Those requests involved 6,223 individuals — 14% fewer than a year earlier. 

The controversial National Security Letters are demands from the FBI for certain information about someone — and they can come along with a order to not even disclose that a request was made.

The 2012 Report sent to the U.S. Senate. | Earlier reports.



SOURCE:  OnTheBeat graphics using compilation from Federation of American Scientists document collection.