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NSA´s program is lawful says U.S. Federal Judge and dismissed claim from American Civil Liberties Union.

Federal Judge William H. Pauley III Photo Credit to Rich Kopstein

Federal Judge William H. Pauley III Photo Credit to Rich Kopstein

A prestigious federal judge ruled on Friday that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of millions of Americans’ telephone and Internet records is lawful and a critical component of the country’s effort to combat the threat of terrorism.

In his 54-page opinion, U.S. District Judge William Pauley said the sweeping program “represents the government’s counter-punch” to eliminate al-Qaeda’s terror network by connecting fragmented and fleeting communications.

“There is no evidence that the Government has used any of the bulk telephony metadata it collected for any purpose other than investigating and disrupting terrorist attacks,” he wrote.

The judge further maintained that the program, which sucks up vast amounts of data, is subject to executive and congressional oversight as well as monitoring by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

In issuing the ruling, Pauley dismissed a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU did not immediately respond to a message for comment.

“We are pleased with the decision,” Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said.

In his 12 years on the federal bench, Judge Pauley, 57 years old, has built a reputation as a taskmaster: stern and prone to throwing hard-hitting questions at lawyers who appear before him.