Newsbrief: Wiretaps Up, Drug Investigations Behind Most, Feds Report 6/7/02

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State and federal wiretapping increased 25% last year, with nearly four out of five approved wiretaps being used in drug trafficking investigations, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts reported on May 23. The office publishes the annual Wiretap Report, outlining the number and nature of state and federal wiretap applications, as required by federal law.

According to the report, state and federal law enforcement agencies applied for 1,491 wiretaps last year. All were granted, adding fuel to the notion that judicial review of wiretap applications is little more than a rubber stamp. Since 1991, when the office began keeping records, only three applications out of 12,661 have been turned down by judges.

"Drug-related crimes" accounted for 78% of all wiretaps, far above any other criminal category. Homicide and assault accounted for 3.5% of wiretaps, racketeering for 4.7%, and gambling for 5.5%.

Lest potential criminals rest too easy thinking that the number is relatively small, the office of the courts noted that the figure does not include two other categories of wiretaps. Wiretaps related to foreign intelligence and counterterrorism investigations, which are conducted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), are not included. Neither are wiretaps where one of the parties consents to being recorded. That is commonly the case when an undercover officer or an informant is participating in the conversation.

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Issue #240, 6/7/02 Editorial: Time for Action | Feds Move to Seize LA Cannabis Resource Center, Hunger Strike Underway | Medical Marijuana Supporters Turn to Civil Disobedience, Direct Action | Rave Regulation Bill Passes California Assembly on Unanimous Vote, Heads for Senate | Cops Jockey for More Drug War Funds in Wake of FBI Revamp | Hot Topic: Adolescent Drug Treatment Abuse Conference Begins in St. Petersburg Tomorrow | Newsbrief: Wiretaps Up, Drug Investigations Behind Most, Feds Report | Newsbrief: New Mexico Governor Commutes Sentence of Raped Prisoner | Newsbrief: Fort Worth Police Chief Dares to Cut DARE | Newsbrief: Afghan Opium Harvest Estimated at 3,000 Tons | Newsbrief: Buds in Bhutan | Media Scan: Arianna Huffington | Grant Program: Tides Foundation RFPs for Latin America, Prop. 36 Implementation and Overdose Prevention | New DRCNet/ Merchandise Out -- Discounted Purchase Available | The Reformer's Calendar
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