NSA phone surveillance legal, federal judge rules

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NEW YORK (AP) — The debate over the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records has fallen squarely into the courts.

A federal judge in Manhattan on Friday 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 latest ruling and the opposing decision earlier set the stage for federal appeals courts to find the delicate balance between individual rights set out in the Constitution and the need to protect national security.

The judge Friday concluded the program was a necessary extension of steps taken after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The earlier ruling granted a preliminary injunction against collecting the phone records of two people who had challenged the program.

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Associated Press writers Mark Sherman and Kimberly Dozier in Washington contributed to this report.

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