Pre-Obama transparency at work: the government has issued its annual report allaboutwiretaps.pdf on the number and type of wiretaps authorized by various agencies of the federal government. The big headline: the number of wiretaps dropped 16% to 386 in 2008 as compared to 2009. State-agency authorized wiretaps -- by far the majority -- dropped by 14%. It's hard to figure out what accounts for such a large decline, although I'm guessing that the increased scrutiny by Congressional Democrats of intelligence gathering procedures contributed to pressure on criminal agencies to make sure they were complying with the letter of the law. Note: the numbers do not include various NSA collection programs involving overseas communications. Special NSA taps authorized by the FISA court aren't included either.
The US is particularly miserable at putting aside money for the future. Should we blame our paychecks or our psychology?