A couple in Philadelphia has filed a class-action lawsuit against the National Security Agency and Verizon, claiming they and their phone records were targeted for surveillance because of their outspoken criticism of Barack Obama and the U.S. military. This is believed to be the first official lawsuit filed against the government and the company, since it was revealed that Verizon had been ordered to turn over phone metadata for all of its customers.
The couple who filed the class-action suit are not just any disgruntled Verizon customers, however. They are Charles and Mary Ann Strange, the parents of a Navy SEAL who was killed along with 37 others, when his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan in 2011. Several of the families of those lost in the attack have questioned the Defense Department's official story of the incident — one of the deadliest single events of the entire war for American troops — and they specifically blame President Obama's polices for leading to those deaths. Among their many complaints: that Afghan forces working with the Americans may have set them up; that because many of those killed that day were members of the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden, publicizing their role in the earlier mission made them targets for retaliation; and that rules of engagement prevented the helicopter and the men on it from fighting back. They also claim that a Muslim cleric was invited to speak at the funeral, who then insulted the dead servicemen in Arabic, although there's little evidence to support that charge.
The Stranges have already filed one lawsuit against Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, the Taliban, and the governments of Afghanistan and Iran, because of the helicopter attack, and they now claim that their phone records were accessed by NSA because "these Plaintiffs have been vocal about their criticism of President Obama as commander-in-chief," as well as the U.S. military. The new case names President Obama; Attorney General Eric Holder; NSA director Keith Alexander; and Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam among the defendants. The lawyer leading the way in both lawsuits is Larry Klayman, the founder of the controversial Judicial Watch, which sued President Bill Clinton 18 times when he was in office, and sued President George W. Bush and Dick Cheney over their secretive Energy Task Froce in 2003. Klayman even sued Judicial Watch after an acrimonious split with the organization in 2006.
While this inaugural lawsuit may not have the strongest case against the NSA or the president, you can bet it won't be the last. You can read the whole filing below.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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