The NSA's phone tracking tactics are America's "counter-punch" to terrorists, according to an NYC judge.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley defended the NSA today, saying that if the organizations methods were in place before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, they would have possibly stopped it from happening. "The government learned from its mistake and adapted to confront a new enemy: a terror network capable of orchestrating attacks across the world," said Pauley. "It launched a number of counter-measures, including a bulk telephony metadata collection program — a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data."

"As the Sept. 11 attacks demonstrate, the cost of missing such a threat can be horrific," he said.

Though an ACLU lawyer argued before Judge Pauley that the NSA's program was so broad that it could be used to collect Americans' financial, health, and library records, without them ever knowing, Pauley saw the program's broadness as a positive thing.

"This blunt tool only works because it collects everything," he continued. "The collection is broad, but the scope of counterterrorism investigations is unprecedented." 

[via Talking Points Memo]