SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

December 28, 2013

Judge rules NSA phone surveillance legal

NEW YORK — The heated debate over the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of millions of Americans’ telephone records fell squarely into the courts yesterday, when a federal judge in Manhattan upheld the legality of the program and cited its need in the fight against terrorism just days after another federal judge concluded it was likely not constitutional.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III and an opposing view earlier this month by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington, D.C., sets the stage for federal appeals courts to confront the delicate balance developed when the need to protect national security clashes with civil rights established in the Constitution.

Pauley concluded the program was a necessary extension of steps taken after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He said the program lets the government connect fragmented and fleeting communications and “represents the government’s counter-punch” to the al-Qaida’s terror network’s use of technology to operate decentralized and plot international terrorist attacks remotely.

“This blunt tool only works because it collects everything,” Pauley said. “The collection is broad, but the scope of counterterrorism investigations is unprecedented.”

Pauley’s decision contrasts with Leon’s grant of a preliminary injunction against the collecting of phone records of two men who had challenged the program. The Washington, D.C., jurist said the program likely violates the U.S. Constitution’s ban on unreasonable search. The judge has since stayed the effect of his ruling, pending a government appeal.

Both cases now move to appeals courts for a conflict that some believe will eventually be settled by the Supreme Court. The chances that the nation’s top court will address it increase if the appeals courts reach conflicting opinions or if the current use of the program is declared illegal.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • Salem extends principal search SALEM -- Superintendent Stephen Russell has extended the search for three new principals, arguably the most important personnel decisions he will make in his three years as head of the public schools. Russell is about to hire principals to guide turn

    April 24, 2014

  • 140423_SN_KYU_CROSSWALK A safer place to cross

    PEABODY -- A little more than a year after tragedy struck, the new pedestrian traffic signal in front of St. Adelaide's Parish is installed and operational. "My dad worked his whole life in the service of his community, church and country, and it giv

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo 5 Stories

  • MBTA proposes commuter-rail fee increase SALEM -- The train to Boston is about to get more expensive. Across-the-board fare increases recently proposed by the MBTA would raise the price of single trips on the commuter rail by 25 to 50 cents and the cost of monthly passes from between $10 fo

    April 24, 2014

  • Unrepentant serial drunken driver gets 31/2 to 5 years PEABODY -- Despite what a judge and prosecutor called an attempt to "hijack" the proceedings in his case, a serial drunken driver from Peabody was sentenced to state prison yesterday. Right up to the end, Peter Hurley, 53, was adamant that he'd done

    April 24, 2014

  • pipes1 Sewerage repair delay sparks worry MARBLEHEAD -- Serious concerns are building over delays in the repair of a sewer pipe connecting Marblehead to the South Essex Sewerage District in Salem. The need for replacing the two pipes became apparent in March 2013, when one began to leak int

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos