Wiretaps on the rise nationally since 9/11

Source: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0904wiretap0904.html

Wiretaps on the rise nationally since 9/11

Sean Holstege

The Arizona Republic

Sept. 4, 2007 12:00 AM

Investigators have tapped more phones, listened to more people and recorded more conversations since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks not only in terrorism probes, but in traditional criminal cases, too.

State and federal courts authorized 8,122 wiretaps for domestic criminal investigations in the first five years after Sept. 11, 2001, marking a nearly 25 percent increase over the previous five years. Judges denied wiretap applications only twice.

Those figures do not include the controversial warrantless wiretaps that are backed by the Bush administration as a terrorism-fighting tool. Nor do they include thousands of wiretaps in which a secret court approves warrants in counterterrorism and espionage cases.

The increase in criminal wiretaps, which require warrants, matches a climate since the attacks in which law-enforcement and counterterrorism officials have blurred the lines between combating terrorism and conventional crime.