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Judge Dee Benson completes term on FISA court

Published: Friday, May 27 2011 8:22 p.m. MDT

WASHINGTON — U.S. District Judge Dee Benson has completed his term on the secretive special court that oversees warrants for government surveillance in spy and terrorism cases.

Chief Justice John Roberts appointed U.S. District Judges Jennifer Coffman of Kentucky and F. Dennis Saylor of Massachusetts to seven-year terms on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Coffman was nominated to the bench by President Bill Clinton; Saylor by President George W. Bush.

They replace Benson of Utah and Frederick J. Scullin Jr. of New York, both nominees of President George H.W. Bush.

Last year federal agents applied 1,579 times for electronic surveillance and searches. The court meets in secret to hear classified evidence from government attorneys. At least one of its 11 judges is on call to issue warrants any time of the day or night.

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