McJoan has an important post on BushCo’s coordination with the telecoms to push Congress into passing an immunity bill. There’s a Guinness with my name on it in the pub downstairs, so I’ll just tell you go read McJoan (and, of course, bmaz’ earlier post from today). But I wanted to make one point about this paragraph from the Isikoff article she links:
The debate over a new surveillance authorization is likely to be complicated by figures showing sharp increases in the government’s electronic eavesdropping on U.S. citizens. One report filed with the office of the administrator of the U.S. Courts shows that standard wiretaps approved by federal and state courts jumped 20 percent last year, from 1,839 in 2006 to 2,208 in 2007. Later this week another report is expected to also show increases in secret wiretaps and break-ins approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) in terror and espionage cases. But even these secret wiretaps and break-ins—estimated to be about 2,300—tell only part of the story. They don’t include other secret methods the government uses to collect personal information on U.S. citizens.
Newsweek cites a big bump in numbers for 2007–a bump which, Hosenball and Isikoff claim–reflect a real increase in actual surveillance.
But we don’t know that.
After all, for 11 and a half months of 2007, the formerly illegal, uncounted warrantless wiretapping was put under review by the FISA Court. So we should expect the numbers to go up significantly, because they will reflect the Administration counting wiretaps that, because they had previously escaped all review, had previously not been counted. We may or may not be seeing an increase in wiretaps. Rather, we may simply be seeing an increase in the number of wiretaps that get counted.
One more point, and then it’s beer thirty.
Remember that part of the hysterics the Administration used to push through PAA in August was to claim that they had lost the ability to wiretap. McConnell told Congress they had lost significant capabilities because FISC was actually reviewing these wiretaps.
If that’s true, then why are the numbers so high?