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Judge Says NSA Surveillance Is Legal

Federal judge says its phone-tracking system doesn't violate Constitution
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2013 11:27 AM CST
Judge Says NSA Surveillance Is Legal
NSA leaker Edward Snowden.   (AP Photo/The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, File)

Score one for the NSA's legal team: A federal judge has ruled that the enormous phone-tracking system unveiled by Edward Snowden is legal, reports Reuters. US District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan today dismissed a lawsuit brought by the ACLU seeking to stop the program. Yes, the program "vacuums up information about virtually every telephone call to, from, or within the United States," wrote the judge, but that doesn't make it unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment.

Its legality is "ultimately a question of reasonableness," he said, and there was no indication the NSA used "bulk telephony data" beyond the scope of fighting terrorism, so it qualifies in his book. The decision comes fewer than two weeks after a different judge found the program to be "almost certainly unconstitutional," meaning the issue is almost certainly headed to the Supreme Court, notes the New York Times. (More NSA stories.)

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