NSA surveillance lawful says Federal Judge

National Security AgencyA federal judge in New York has ruled that the National Security Agency’s electronic surveillance program, which collects millions of Americans’ phone records, is lawful.

Ruling on American Civil Liberties Union et al v. Clapper et al, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-03994, US District Judge William Pauley said the federal government could dismiss a complaint against the program brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“While robust discussions are underway across the nation, in Congress and at the White House, the question for this court is whether the government’s bulk telephony metadata program is lawful. This court finds it is,” he wrote in his 54-page ruling.

“The question of whether that program should be conducted is for the other two coordinate branches of government to decide,” he added.

Last week, another US District Judge, Richard Leon in Washington, DC, ruled that the NSA phone data collection program was likely unconstitutional because it violated protections against unreasonable searches.

But Pauley argued that protections under the Fourth Amendment do not apply to records held by third parties, like phone companies. “This blunt tool only works because it collects everything,” he said.

“Technology allowed al Qaeda to operate decentralized and plot international terrorist attacks remotely,” he said. “The bulk telephony metadata collection program represents the government’s counter-punch.”

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