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A federal judge in New York has ruled that the National Security Agency's massive collection of American citizens' telephone records is both legal and useful. U.S. District Judge William Pauley wrote in his opinion issued Friday that the program "represents the government's counter-punch" to eliminate al-Qaeda's terror network. Pauley raised the specter of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and how the phone data-collection system could have helped investigators connect the dots before the attacks occurred. "The government learned from its mistake and adapted to confront a new enemy: a terror network capable of orchestrating attacks across the world. 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," he said.