Docket Inflation at the FISA Court?

Screen shot 2013-10-18 at 3.17.36 PMAs I noted in my last post, I’m a bit alarmed by the docket numbers we’re seeing out of the FISC court. The order released today appears to be the 158th docket for the year.

Compare that to the docket numbers from 2009, as revealed in the orders Reggie Walton issued while trying to clean up NSA’s act. His November 5, 2009 order appears to be just the 15th docket for the year, as compared to Mary McLaughlin’s October order being the 158th.

We’re running at 10 times the pace we were 4 years ago.

The thing is, while the comparison does make this year seem especially bad, it actually seems to be part of a longer trend. Here’s the numbers of NSLs and Section 215 orders the FISC has issued since 2005.

Screen shot 2013-10-18 at 4.17.42 PM

 

 

Before we knew how extensive the phone dragnet was, these numbers suggested some of the NSL production got moved into the secret interpretations of Section 215 after 2010 (which is about the same time Ron Wyden and Mark Udall got especially shrill about it).

While that may or may not explain the big jump between 2009 — when the Walton numbers are perfectly consistent — and 2011, it’s not the phone dragnet driving the numbers. That has only been responsible for something like 6 dockets in any given year, and more often just 4 (for example, even in 2009, the multiple iterations were just additional entries to the docket tied to that quarter’s order).

I thought, too, the Boston Marathon attack might explain higher numbers for this year. But we might even come in slightly lower than we did last year.

Which is another way of noting how deceitful these numbers are. Any single NSL could include more than one American. We know at least some of the Section 215 orders include every American.

So how many records might these entail of each one could represent every American?

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2 Responses to Docket Inflation at the FISA Court?

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @MikeSacksEsq They wouldn't let me pre-order at the price yet.
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bmaz @Krhawkins5 @onekade @jilliancyork @emptywheel @JameelJaffer @CIA And, yet, DEA is most ruthless+competent of all of them
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bmaz @MikeSacksEsq ...cause I drive around to so many different courts and am otherwise mobile.
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bmaz @MikeSacksEsq My two years not up until Oct 31. Want (eyes need!) screen size of Plus, but thing has to work as main office phone too
16mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @MikeSacksEsq @SammSacks Is it too big to use easily as a phone?
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bmaz RT @saftergood: CRS memo on proposals to expatriate US citizens who fight for terrorist groups (pdf) http://t.co/fa3MwrXv38
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emptywheel @ttagaris Actually a remarkably non-shitty panel, even if there are no girls. @ChrisMurphyCT
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bmaz RT @elizabeth_joh: Instead of official statistics resisting arrest numbers may be best measure of NYPD use of force by @jdavidgoodman http:…
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emptywheel @NaheedMustafa Agree, but they're using current unjustified fearmongering to do things they haven't tried before (citizen stripping, eg)
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emptywheel @jilliancyork When is it? I've been putting off a FBI post that I REALLY need to finish? @onekade
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emptywheel @jilliancyork This is one of many reasons I find USAF "transparency" provisions so problematic, btw. Designed to obscure FBI.
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emptywheel @jilliancyork FBI FBI FBI FBI. Also local cops and CBP and ATF and--just ask @onekade for the others.
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