Fourth Amendment

All Snooping Requests Approved by Spy Court in 2012

Clearly, an effective barrier to excessive nosiness

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A secretive federal court last year approved all of the 1,856 requests to search or electronically surveil people within the United States "for foreign intelligence purposes," the Justice Department reported this week.

The report (.pdf), released Tuesday to Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader from Nevada, provides a brief glimpse into the caseload of what is known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. None of its decisions are public.

The 2012 figures represent a 5 percent bump from the prior year, when no requests were denied either.

The secret court, which came to life in the wake of the Watergate scandal under the President Richard M. Nixon administration, now gets the bulk of its authority under the FISA Amendments Act, which Congress reauthorized for another five years days before it would have expired last year.