Friday, December 27, 2013

N.Y. judge rules NSA phone surveillance legal

NEW YORK — A federal judge on Friday found that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records is legal and 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 "represents the government's counter-punch" to eliminate al-Qaida's terror network by connecting fragmented and fleeting communications.

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

He said the mass collection of phone data "significantly increases the NSA's capability to detect the faintest patterns left behind by individuals affiliated with foreign terrorist organizations. Armed with all the metadata, NSA can draw connections it might otherwise never be able to find."

He added that such a program, if unchecked, "imperils the civil liberties of every citizen" and he noted the lively debate about the subject across the nation, in Congress and at the White House.
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