An annual government report showed that every warrant submitted by the Feds to spy on Americans was approved by the secret FISA court in 2011. The 1,745 total number of applications and warrants approved was a 10.5% increase over 2010.
An anonymous counterterrorism official said the increase was "in response to materials seized in relation to the raid on Osama Bin Ladenís compound in Pakistan and the resulting investigations."
Although the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) is secretive and does not reveal the type of surveillance that was approved, it may be the most transparent surveillance program the Feds admit to. At least the warrants are issued and can be counted.
FISA has only been one of the tools used to spy on the communications of Americans.
The FBI, under the authority of the PATRIOT Act, issues "administrative subpoenas" in order to get citizens' telephone, Internet and banking records, while these organizations turning over personal information have also been conveniently exempt from invasion of privacy lawsuits. According to Huffington Post, 16,511 FBI subpoenas were issued in 2011, down from 24,287 the year before.
Since Bush authorized the NSA to bypass the FISA court to spy on electronic communications of Americans to fight the "war on terror" after 9/11, the number of reported warrants seems moot however much they increase or decrease.
Activist Post: FISA Approves EVERY Secret Surveillance Warrant in 2011: Report