A federal judge ruled Friday that the National Security Agency’s massive collection of telephone metadata is lawful — and took a shot at the man who exposed them earlier this year.
U.S. District Judge William Pauley, of Manhattan, rejected the American Civil Liberties Union’s motion for a preliminary injunction.
In his ruling, Pauley noted the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and said they succeeded “because conventional intelligence gathering could not detect diffuse filaments connecting al-Qaeda.”
Pauley also took a direct shot at Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who exposed the program through leaks to journalists.
Basically, what Pauley pointed out is what he refers to as the “absurdity” of the ACLU’s lawsuit. In the Patriot Act, Congress intended to prevent lawsuits from any parties other than a company whose metadata is ordered to be collected. The ACLU would have never learned about the vastness of the program without what Pauley called “unauthorised” and “lawbreaking” disclosures by Snowden.
“It cannot be that lawbreaking conduct by a government contractor that reveals state secrets — including the means and methods of intelligence gathering — could frustrate Congress’ intent,” Pauley wrote.
“To hold otherwise would spawn mischief.”
Pauley also wrote that there is no evidence that the government has used the metadata for anything other than disrupting terrorist attacks.
Pauley’s ruling comes less than two weeks after U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that the program is likely unconstitutional. But Leon issued a stay to allow for a government appeal.
The ACLU and the Department of Justice didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
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