30,000--that's the population of a large town or a small city. It's the number of seats in one of the smaller major league baseball fields. It's the size of a US Army Corps.
Wired also reports that it's also the number of "national security letters" issued by the FBI on a yearly basis. These letters allow access to your Internet use, telephone, email and financial records, all without judicial review. (Not that I trust the judicial system, but any sort of oversight would make me a little more comfortable.)
30,000 is 100 times the historical average of these letters, which first came into use with the passage of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act in 1986.
But as a good citizen I suppose I should feel reassured that:
"The Department of Justice inspector general in August 2005 found no civil rights violations with respect to the Patriot Act."
The Patriot Act. Well, now. There are no civil rights violations under the Patriot Act. That's comforting. I guess the US Constitution doesn't apply in this case, huh?
Edit: Gunner at No Quarters has an interesting take on the subject.