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The Surveillance

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Julian Sanchez reads through the annual federal criminal wiretapping report so I don’t have to. On the surface it appears that federal wiretapping has declined while state-level wiretapping is, well…

This profound “decline” at the state level was from the highest number of authorizations in a decade to the second highest number in a decade. They’re still up significantly over 2006, and combined authorizations are up a whopping 42 percent since 1998. Oh, also? These figures are based on reporting from only 22 states, compared with 24 in 2007, and there are always reports that come in late, so it’s entirely possible this is just a question of the numbers being in the mail. Finally, notice that the “hit rate” of the wiretaps seems to be dropping off: 30 percent of intercepts were incriminating communications in 2007, but the ratio fell to 19 percent in 2008.

Give this man a bureau!

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Spencer Ackerman

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