- Charles and Mary Anne Strange, from Philadelphia, said they heard strange tapping on the line in the months after son Michael’s death
- Mr Strange said: ‘When I started asking questions, that’s when my phone got tapped’
PUBLISHED: 21:31 EST, 12 June 2013 | UPDATED: 21:55 EST, 12 June 2013
A couple whose Navy SEAL son was killed in Afghanistan have joined a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. government over the National Security Agency’s collection of Verizon phone records.
Charles and Mary Anne Strange joined the suit, which seeks billions in damages, after it was filed in federal court in D.C. on Sunday, accusing Obama’s administration of breaching the privacy of millions of Americans.
The couple, from Philadelphia, lost their 25-year-old son Michael in a helicopter crash on August 6, 2011 while he served in Afghanistan.
In pursuit: Charles Strange and his wife Mary Anne, whose Navy SEAL son Michael was killed in Afghanistan, have joined a class action against the government as they believe their phone was tapped
Killed in action: Michael Strange, 25, died when his helicopter went down in Afghanistan in 2011
Mr Strange told CBS: ‘Somebody has to be held accountable for my son’s death. Thirty brave Americans, the biggest loss in the Afghan war.
‘And that’s when I started asking questions, that’s when my phone got tapped.’
The grieving father, from Torresdale, said he heard strange tapping noises during calls and received text messages from unknown numbers in the months after his son died.
Mr Strange believes that he was among the millions of Verizon customers being monitored by the NSA because he has been highly critical of the Obama administration.
The couple believe that their son’s helicopter could have been shot down by insurgents in retaliation for the killing of Osama Bin Laden three months earlier, ABC reported.
Mr Strange claims that when he reported the odd tapping to Verizon and the messages, an employee told him that someone was listening in the U.S. and Afghanistan.
The couple are outraged at being monitored by the government, having done nothing wrong.
Evidence? Mr Strange points to the text and call on his phone from the unknown number
Watching: Mr Strange said that a Verizon employee told him his phone was being monitored
The suit, against President Obama, the NSA and Justice Department, was originally filed by attorney Larry Klayman who founded Freedom Watch, a political advocacy group.
Mr Klayman, a former federeal prosecutor, also plans to file a lawsuit on Thursday against Facebook, Google, Microsoft and six other companies for their allegedly complicity.
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The NSA’s practice of monitoring customers was revealed by former employee Edward Snowden who has since fled his home in Hawaii for Hong Kong.
Last week, the Guardian newspaper in the UK reported that the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on April 25 issued an order granting the NSA permission to collect telephone records of millions of Verizon customers. The order was good until July 19, the newspaper said.
The order requires Verizon, one of the nation’s largest telecommunications companies, on an ‘ongoing, daily basis’ to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries.
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The American Civil Liberties Union also sued the Obama administration on Tuesday, asking the government to halt its phone-tracking program that it says is unconstitutional.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in New York by the American Civil Liberties Union, along with the New York Civil Liberties Union.
‘The practice is akin to snatching every American’s address book – with annotations detailing whom we spoke to, when we talked, for how long, and from where,’ the lawsuit says.
‘“It gives the government a comprehensive record of our associations and public movements, revealing a wealth of detail about our familial, political, professional, religious, and intimate associations.’
The lawsuit – which names as defendants the heads of national intelligence as well as the agencies they lead, including the National Security Agency, the FBI, the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice – also asks the court to purge phone records collected under the program, claiming the government action violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution.
The Department of Justice did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Obama has defended the program and says privacy must be balanced with security.
The ACLU claims standing as a former customer of Verizon, adding that the government likely has much of its metadata stored in its databases.
The suit also alleges the government’s program exceeds the congressional authority provided by the Patriot Act and singles out a particular provision that has given the government more leeway in obtaining various records for intelligence investigations.
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