New York federal judge says NSA phone surveillance is legal

By Daniel S Levine,

A New York federal judge said Friday that the National Security Agency’s controversial phone surveillance program is legal. The judge said that the telephone records are an important part of the country’s fight against terrorism.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley wrote in his opinion, that the program “represents the government's counter-punch” to al-Qaeda’s terrorism plans. According to the Associated Press, Pauley also suggests that the program could have helped prevent the attacks on Sept. 11.

Pauley determined that the programs were the result of the government learning from its mistake to not adapt to changing technology and how terrorists were using it. “It launched a number of counter-measures, including a bulk telephony metadata collection program — a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data,” the judge wrote.

According to NBC News, Pauley’s opinion came for the American Civil Liberties Union’s lawsuit against NSA director James Tapper and the Justice Department. The ruling dismisses the suit.

The ruling also contradicts U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s ruling on Dec. 16 that the gathering of phone records by the NSA is unconstitutional. Since there are now conflicting opinions, it’s likely that the Supreme Court will have to make a ruling.

Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who brought the programs to the public’s attention by leaking documents, is currently in Russia. He said this week in the Washington Post that he considers his mission accomplished now that the public knows what the agency does.

image: Wikimedia Commons


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