US district judge William Pauley said the dragnet program “represents the government’s counter-punch” to al-Qaida in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. The decision conflicts with a ruling in another case, increasing the likelihood that the US supreme court will take up the issue.
In the latest case, Pauley noted that the program was controversial, but lawful. “While robust discussions are under way across the nation, in Congress, and at the White House, the question for this court is whether the government’s bulk telephony metadata program is lawful. The court finds it is.
“But the question of whether that program should be conducted is for the other two coordinate branches of government to decide.”
Pauley’s ruling stated the phone data-collection program could have helped investigators detect plans for the 9/11 attacks. That claim seems to ignore the fact that traditional intelligence work and notices from U.S. allies had turned up abundant evidence that an attack was imminent.