US surveil­lance court de­nied few mon­i­tor­ing re­quests in ’16

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - NATION & WORLD -

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.

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