Judge rules NSA phone tracking legal

by ASSOCIATED PRESS | Politico  |  published on December 30, 2013

NSA
NEW YORK — Citing the Sept. 11 attacks, a federal judge on Friday found that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of millions of Americans’ telephone records is legal, a valuable part of the nation’s arsenal to counter the threat of terrorism and “only works because it collects everything.”

U.S. District Judge William Pauley said in a written opinion that the program lets the government connect fragmented and fleeting communications and “represents the government’s counter-punch” to the al-Qaida’s terror network’s use of technology to operate decentralized and plot international terrorist attacks remotely.

“This blunt tool only works because it collects everything,” Pauley said. “The collection is broad, but the scope of counterterrorism investigations is unprecedented.”

Pauley’s decision contrasts with a ruling earlier this month by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon, who granted a preliminary injunction against the collecting of phone records of two men who had challenged the program. The Washington, D.C. jurist said the program likely violates the U.S. Constitution’s ban on unreasonable search. The judge has since stayed the effect of his ruling, pending a government appeal.

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