2011 Wiretap Stats Released

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has released its annual report on the use of federal and state wiretaps and electronic surveillance. The summary is here, and the page with all the appendixes and charts is here. Some highlights:

  • 85% of the federal wiretaps were in drug cases.
  • The average cost for a federal wiretap was $71,748, a 13 percent increase from 2010.
  • Telephone wiretaps accounted for 96 percent (2,092 cases) of the intercepts installed in 2011, the majority of them involving cellular telephones.
  • During 2011, a total of 4,006 arrests, 2,700 convictions, and additional costs of $51,874,823 arose from and were reported for wiretaps completed in previous years.


These stats don't even include most forms of electronic spying for which the Government doesn't need a warrant based on probable cause -- like pen registers/trap and trace devices or obtaining toll records, subscriber information, e-mail and social media account information.

Nor do the stats include the rampant use of cell phone tracking. The Justice Department is fighting legislative proposals to require warrants for cell phone tracking. It says it would "cripple law enforcement."

More here. Here's the ACLU's report from April, 2012 on warrantless cell phone tracking.

Whatever happened to the expectation of privacy? As the Fourth of July is almost upon us, here's a reminder of one of the principles that inspired our nation's founders:

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  • Display: Sort:
    Will (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by lentinel on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 02:04:57 PM EST
    "liberal" democrats be upset by this information?

    I think not.

    Will Pelosi let out a yell in horror of this costly invasion of our privacy rights?

    Will our enlightened alternative to that pariah Romney get on the airways to declare that this cannot continue during his watch?


    it's just part of the enduring bipartisan legacy of that lovable rogue, W.

    Since you think that liberal democrats (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jack E Lope on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 01:52:25 PM EST
    will not be [publically] upset by this information, why would you expect conservative Democrats such as Pelosi or Obama would be upset?

    Or was "liberal" in quotes because you already recognize that they are quite conservative?  Sometimes it's hard to determine the tone of written communications.

    In an attempt to be exemplary, I'll address the article, too:

    Do we (citizens/taxpayers/future taxpayers) get an average of $71,748 in value from the results of wiretaps?   I would guess not, but I do not know the nature of the convictions that come from these wiretaps.


    My (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by lentinel on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 04:11:46 PM EST
    feeling is that there are no liberal democrats. Everyone in government has bought the concept of the war on terror, and that we must give up our freedoms in order to protect our freedoms. Pure Orwell. And certainly not the concept of America as envisioned by the likes of Benjamin Franklin.

    If there are any liberal democrats, they have been silent for years. It is enough for them to aspire to defeat republicans. The policies remain.

    These democrats differ very little if at all from the republicans. They believe that the patriot act is necessary. They vote for it. They proclaim it to be necessary, "more than ever". They believe in wiretaps. They believe in the war in Afghanistan. The fact that Gitmo is ongoing is not a source of concern for them. The continuation of unlimited detention without charge or trial is not a source of concern. And Obama "evolved" on the issues of gay marriage and immigration only after he realized that he might suffer at the ballot box and in the collection box.

    The only thing that seems to motivate democrats is the fear of a republican alternative. But I have yet to see a recital of what they see as the glowing accomplishments of this administration.
    Is the killing of Bin Laden going to be their rallying cry? This blog fears Romney principally because he could appoint another neanderthal like Scalia to the bench. But if Obama is campaigning on this issue I have yet to see it. We're supposed to guess what is in his "heart". I for one can't begin to guess.

    For some among us,  this coming election is a heartless charade.


    I wonder how much of the money to (none / 0) (#1)
    by ruffian on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 10:42:59 AM EST
    pay for all of this came out of the stimulus package. What a waste.

    Jack E and lentinel (none / 0) (#5)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 05:49:48 PM EST
    I would love to see your definition of a "liberal" Democrat... It would have to run my Right wing friends insane.


    More stats (none / 0) (#6)
    by jbindc on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 09:45:41 AM EST
    Emphasis mine

    After rising 34 percent the previous year, the total number of intercepts authorized by federal and state courts and completed in 2011 decreased by 14 percent to 2,732.  The number of applications for orders reported by federal authorities was 792. The number of applications reported by state prosecuting officials was 1,940, with 25 states providing reports.  Installed wiretaps were in operation an average of 42 days per wiretap in 2011, compared to 40 days in 2010.  The average number of persons whose communications were intercepted decreased from 118 per wiretap order in 2010 to 113 per wiretap order in 2011.  Twenty-three percent of intercepted communications in 2011 were incriminating.

    So, there's a little bit of good news in there.

    And the states with the largest number of wiretap applications approved by state judges?  In order:  California (630), New York (441), and New Jersey (140). Generally more liberal states - interesting.

    Is it significant that (none / 0) (#7)
    by Jack E Lope on Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 08:37:24 PM EST
    ...only your Right-wing friends inhabit that reality?

    I'll admit that Obama's higher deportation rate of civil-infracting aliens is fairly left-wing, but he's been the 2nd coming of Ronald Reagan in most other domestic policy areas.

    Sorry, (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jack E Lope on Wed Jul 04, 2012 at 08:39:10 PM EST
    that was meant in reply to jimakapp, below.

    I'll blame my browser's inability to discern my actions from my true desires.