July 8, 2013
Last week, in a very, very quiet release, the US Federal Court system published its annual Wiretap report to Congress.
This is something that is required by law; the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO) must annually report the number of federal and state applications for court orders to “intercept wire, oral, or electronic communications.”
Note– this report only covers wiretapping orders by US courts; it does not include anything related to the NSA’s electronic surveillance, FBI ‘administrative subpoenas’ to Google / Facebook, the US Postal Service snooping people’s physical mail, or any of this top secret FISA nonsense.
In other words, these numbers add yet another dimension to how vast the US spy state has become.
The report gives a lot of eye-popping details about these official, court-ordered wiretaps, including:
- Riverside County, California is the most spied-on county in the United States
- Followed by Clark County, Nevada
- 3,395 wiretaps were ordered, averaging 29.03 days each
- The average cost of a wiretap order last year was $50,452
- The highest cost was $872,841 for a Federal wiretap in the Eastern district of Washington
- 87.39% of these wiretap orders were connected to drug-related charges
- Only 18.19% of these wiretaps actually led to a conviction
This last point is worth repeating. Because for all the people who think, “Good, let the government wiretap those evil criminals,” it shows that such tactics are totally ineffective.
In its efforts to continue fighting the War on Plants, the US Federal government, along with dozens of state governments, spent a whopping $50,000 on each wiretap.
Yet the evidence that comes from such wiretaps is clearly underwhelming. There is no ‘smoking gun’ as only about one in five of the wiretap subjects is convicted.
And, as obtuse as it may sound, this is how government prosecutors measure their own success– by how many bodies they incarcerate, regardless of how ridiculous the offense may be.
So using the numbers from this report, for every conviction they get from wiretapping, the government wastes $277,361.19 on other wiretaps that produce absolutely nothing (based on their own metrics for success).
This is a mind-numbing waste of taxpayer / borrowed Chinese money on surveillance that clearly delivers ineffective intelligence.
And for the thousands of people who have been surveilled, it represents yet another egregious violation of what few civil liberties remain in the Land of the Free.
But remember– there are plenty of steps you can take to enhance your freedom, especially when it comes to your digital privacy.
My team and I recently put together a detailed Black Paper on how to defend yourself against these threats– wiretapping, NSA surveillance, and more. And we’ve made it available absolutely free.
It’s a guide to ‘Giving the NSA the Finger… Without Them Ever Noticing.’
You can download it for free here— and, please, do share it with your friends and loved ones.