Congress Left in Dark on DOJ Wiretaps (

February 13, 2012

Between 2004 and 2008,  the Department of Justice failed to provide Congress with mandatory annual reports detailing its use of surveillance tools called pen registers and trap-and-trace devices, which record the telephone numbers and e-mail addresses that communicate with a targeted entity.  During this time of congressional inattentiveness, the DOJ’s use of this technique nearly doubled, increasing from 10,885 to 21,152.  Effective Congressional oversight of pen register/trap and trace activity is critical because the government may obtain court orders for this surveillance based on mere relevance to an investigation, rather than probable cause.

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