This is happening thanks to the "Patriot" act. While these investigations have nothing to do with terrorism (indeed, the vast majority are drug investigations, further showing the "war on drugs" to be the biggest single policy failure conservatives have ever foisted upon the American public,) judges know the score. It's a new era; domestic spying is now socially acceptable thanks to the rightwing monopoly on the media and government.
How ingrained is this new paradigm, where law enforcement curiosity overrules privacy rights or probable cause? The article notes not a single request for a wiretap was denied.
"In non-terrorist criminal investigations, federally-approved wiretaps increased 26 percent in a year, to 730 applications, while state judges approved 980 wiretaps, an increase of 13 percent.
Timothy Edgar, legislative counsel for the
American Civil Liberties Union, said the figures show that old-fashioned law enforcement surveillance is catching up with increases in anti-terror wiretaps.
'We're still seeing a huge trend toward increased surveillance," said Edgar.'"