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DOJ reports record number of special FISA warrant approvals

[JURIST] In an annual report [text] to Congress Friday, the US Department of Justice Office of Legislative Affairs [official website] revealed that the government applied for and was granted a record number of special warrants in 2004. The report submitted by Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella [official website], revealed a 75 percent increase in the number of special warrants approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review [statutory text] since 2000. The court was created under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [text] to approve special warrant requests related to foreign intelligence. However, after the September 11 attacks and passage of the US Patriot Act [JURIST news archive], federal agencies have requested a higher number of warrants to investigate persons suspected of terrorist activity. According to DOJ reports [report archive], the court approved 1,003 warrant requests in 2000, 1,724 requests in 2003, and 1,754 in 2004. The FBI used a special warrant granted by the court in 2004 to search the home of Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield [JURIST report], who was jailed after his fingerprint was incorrectly matched to one found on a bag of detonators near the scene of train bombings in Spain that killed 191 people in March 2004. He was released after the FBI admitted its mistake. AP has more.

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