WEST PALM BEACH, FL, June 14, 2013 —An attorney representing Verizon customers filed a class action suit this week in Washington, DC federal court against Verizon Communications, the United States Federal Government and several government officials over collection of cell phone records by the National Security Agency (NSA).
Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, Inc. and Charles and Mary Ann Strange allege that the telephone surveillance violates the “reasonable expectation of privacy, free speech and association, right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, and due process rights.”
The suit, Klayman, et al. v. Barrack Hussein Obama II, et al., Case No. 13-cv-00851, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was filed last Friday and became a class action suit on Monday. It seeks to represent a class of American citizens in the United States and overseas who are either current or previous Verizon customers, including, but not limited to customers between April 25, 2013 and July 19, 2013. The suit believes there are more than 100 million people in the class.
According to the suit, the actions by the NSA, under the watch of the Obama administration, constituted an “outrageous breach of privacy,” and challenges the legality of the NSA program.
The named defendants in the lawsuit are President Obama, US Attorney General Eric Holder, the director of the NSA, the NSA, the CEO of Verizon, the US Department of Justice, and Judge Roger Vinson of the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The suit includes Judge Vinson because he signed the order by the government which directed Verizon to turn over all phone records “on an ongoing daily basis.”
The class is seeking a cease-and-desist order to stop the surveillance, expungement of all phone records already collected, and more disclosure about the secret surveillance programs. It also wants authorities to investigate Judge Vinson for misconduct.
The suit is also seeking more than $3 billion in damages and attorney fees. Plaintiffs are represented by Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch Inc.
Larry Klayman is an activist lawyer who founded the watchdog group Judicial Watch in 1994. He is also the author of two books, Fatal Neglect and Whores: Why and How I Came to Fight the Establishment.
According to its website, Judicial Watch Inc. is “a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law. Through its educational endeavors, Judicial Watch advocates high standards of ethics and morality in our nation’s public life and seeks to ensure that political and judicial officials do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people. Judicial Watch fulfills its educational mission through litigation, investigations, and public outreach.”
The web site also notes the motto of Judicial Watch is “Because no one is above the law.”
The organization received public recognition after it filed numerous lawsuits against President Clinton and his administration. Liberal critics of the organization claimed that funding for Judicial Watch from conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, heir to the Mellon fortune and owner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, demonstrated that the litigation was part of an anti-Democratic partisan agenda.
Klayman founded Freedom Watch after an unsuccessful bid for the Florida Republican Senate nomination in 2004.
According to the Freedom Watch web site, that organization, “…is the only political advocacy group that speaks through actions, rather than just words. We are dedicated to not only preserving freedom, but redefining its meaning, from protecting our rights to privacy, free speech, civil liberties, and freedom from foreign oil and crooked business, labor and government officials, to protecting our national sovereignty against the incompetent, terrorist state-controlled United Nations, and reestablishing the rule of law in what has become a very corrupt American legal system, where justice is only as good as your lawyer and judge—most of whom are compromised ethically and otherwise.”
The site openly takes aim at the Obama administration, saying, “Our greatest challenge—as we face a deep economic crisis, a government that spends our tax dollars like a drunken sailor, and a new Obama-Clinton regime that is using the economic crisis as an excuse to turn our nation into a socialist Euro-style welfare state—is to remain constant to the principles of our Founding Fathers, not only Adams, but Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and others who put their lives on the line for our freedom.”
Charles and Mary Ann Strange are the parents of Navy SEAL Michael Strange who was killed on-duty in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2011.
The tenth motion of the complaint states:
Plaintiffs Charles and Mary Ann Strange are the parents of Michael Strange, a member of Navy SEAL Team VI who was killed when the helicopter he was in was attacked and shot down by terrorist Taliban jihadists in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. On information and belief, Defendants have accessed Plaintiffs Charles and Mary Ann Strange’s phone records particularly since these Plaintiffs have been vocal about their criticism of President Obama as commander-in-chief, his administration, and the U.S. military regarding the circumstances surrounding the shoot down of their son’s helicopter in Afghanistan, which resulted in the death of their son and other Navy Seal Team VI members and special operation forces. Plaintiffs Charles and Mary Ann Strange have substantial connections with Washington, D.C., as they hold press conferences in Washington, D.C. and lobby in Washington, D.C. as an advocate for their son and to obtain justice for him, as well as to change the policies and orders of President Obama and the U.S. military’s acts and practices, which contributed to their son’s death.
Verizon spokesman Raymond McConville, who said he was speaking only for Verizon, said in an email that the “case is without merit.”
The Justice Department declined to comment on the suit.
While this is the first class action lawsuit related to the wire tapping and data collection revelations of the last few weeks, it is almost certainly not the last.
Read the entire lawsuit here.
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