Judge Backs the NSA’s Surveillance

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Ruling on U.S. Phone Data Contradicts Recent Decision, Boosting Likelihood of Supreme Court Review.

The National Security Agency’s collection of data about most calls made in the U.S. is legal, a federal judge ruled, dismissing a significant court challenge and setting the stage for a bigger legal battle over secret surveillance programs.

U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III in Manhattan sided with the government in his decision, calling the collection program a vital tool that represents the government’s “counter-punch” against al Qaeda’s diffuse terror network.

The ruling comes less than two weeks after a federal judge in the District of Columbia took on the same issue and concluded in strong language that the program “almost certainly” violates the Constitution.

The decision in New York is the latest development in the controversy over a spying program that, despite its vast scale, was so cloaked in secrecy that years of court challenges by civil-liberties groups had failed to gain traction, mostly because the groups couldn’t prove their records had been seized. That changed with a series of leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that offered new details about the scope of such programs.

The New York case was brought in June by the American Civil Liberties Union, which claimed that the NSA was violating the group’s constitutional rights by collecting so-called metadata from the ACLU’s phone calls.

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