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A federal judge ruled that NSA collection of telephone records is legal partly because the practice provided "a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists."
Gossamer originally meant "a film of cobwebs floating in air in calm clear weather," and has also come to have the metaphorical meaning of "something light, delicate, or insubstantial."
It comes from combining the words "goose" and "summer," probably because the floating cobwebs look like goose feathers and occur on warm autumn days, which also corresponded with the time when geese were supposedly in season.