FEDERAL JUDGE; NSA PHONE SURVEILLANCE LEGAL
A federal judge ruled that a National Security Agency program that collects records of millions of Americans' phone calls is lawful, calling it a "counter-punch" to terrorism that does not violate Americans' privacy rights.
Friday's decision by U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan diverged from a ruling by another judge this month that questioned the program's constitutionality, raising the prospect that the Supreme Court will need to resolve the issue.
In a 54-page decision, Pauley dismissed an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit contending that the NSA collection of "bulk telephony metadata" violated the bar against warrantless searches under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The judge also referred often to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, in which nearly 3,000 people died, and said broad counter-terrorism programs such as the NSA's could help avoid a "horrific" repeat of those events.
"This blunt tool only works because it collects everything," Pauley wrote. "Technology allowed al Qaeda to operate decentralized and plot international terrorist attacks remotely. The bulk telephony metadata collection program represents the government's counter-punch."
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