US judge says NSA phone data programme is lawful
NEW YORK (AFP) - A US judge ruled on Friday that the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance of telephone calls is lawful, igniting a legal conflict that the Supreme Court may ultimately have to resolve.
Federal judge William Pauley in New York threw out a petition from the American Civil Liberties Union and said the programme was vital in preventing an Al-Qaeda terror attack on American soil.
Ten days earlier, however, another federal judge in Washington declared that this “almost Orwellian” surveillance is probably unconstitutional, laying the groundwork for a protracted legal fight. “The question for this court is whether the government’s bulk telephony metadata programme is lawful. This court finds it is,” said the 54-page ruling published in New York on Friday.
Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, sent shockwaves around the world this year by revealing the extent of Washington’s electronic eavesdropping on millions of private calls. The Justice Department welcomed Friday’s ruling but the American Civil Liberties Union said it would appeal.