US surveillance court denied few monitoring requests in ’16
WASHINGTON — The nation’s super-secret intelligence court denied just nine of the more than 1,700 requests it received last year for government surveillance warrants in terrorism and espionage cases, according to a report released Thursday that offers a glimpse into its work.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court received 1,752 applications for wiretaps and other surveillance in 2016, up from 1,010 the year before. It granted 1,378 of those requests, while others were partially denied or modified. The court denied in full only five applications in 2015. In both years, the denied applications were mostly for electronic surveillance of email, phone and data intercepts, and for physical searches ofhomes, cars, luggage and offices.
The court approves highly secretive warrants in the most sensitive of FBI investigations, and the report does not offer any insight into its classified process or any of the applications it received. But it offers a small peek into its work, which has taken on particular importance with ongoing investigations into whether President Donald Trump’s campaign had ties to Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election.
The FBI obtained a secret order from the court last summer to monitor the communications of Carter Page, an adviser to thencandidate Donald Trump, because the government was investigating whether Page was acting as a Russian agent.
Conversations between Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and the Russian ambassador to the U.S. were also collected through a warrant issued by the surveillance court.