A Federal Judge has ruled that the NSA’s collection of telephone records is legal and valuable in the fight against terrorism.
He says that
a bulk telephony metadata collection program [is] a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data
The judge notes that a similar data collection prior to September 11th might have caught the planning of the event before it took place.
U.S. District Judge William Pauley dismissed a lawsuit by the ACLU, who argued last month that the government is interpreting its authority under the Patriot Act too broadly and that it could use these too-broad permissions to justify collecting personal data of innocents, including health, financial, and other personal information.
A lawyer representing the government countered that personal information of the average citizen would not be of any interest or use.
That argument is interesting in the light of recent information demonstrating that government officials have used their power to spy on people with whim they had sexual relationships or interests, or who were otherwise of no reasonable legal interest to the government agency.
The information includes cases of individuals employed by the NSA spying on the emails, phone calls, and other contacts by lovers, spouses, and exes.
While cases that come to public light may be punished, the spotlight on the fact that the agency is made up of individuals and that individuals can abuse power doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.