As the Justice Department reports a two-year decline in the number of wiretap applications approved by a secret U.S. intelligence court, the workload of Justice Department lawyers assigned to request and oversee such sensitive surveillance activities appears to be growing, reports the Washington Post.
Because the Senate failed to confirm James Cole as deputy Attorney General, only Eric Holder or one other confirmed assistant is legally able to sign applications for wiretaps to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. In fiscal 2009, the court approved 1,320 applications, which “usually run 40 to 50 pages” each “The attorney general is feeling oppressed,” said one associate with whom Holder spoke recently about the urgent need for a Senate vote. “He is in a bind. I think he’s feeling that undertow.”