recommended reading

Family of Slain Navy Cryptologist Sues NSA, Verizon for Massive Snooping Operation

An aerial view of the NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah, Thursday, June 6, 2013.

An aerial view of the NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah, Thursday, June 6, 2013. // Rick Bowmer/AP

The family of a Navy cryptologist killed on Aug.  6, 2011 while supporting a Navy SEAL operation in Afghanistan has filed the first class action lawsuit over the National Security Agency’s sweeping collection of telephone call metadata. The suit seeks $12 billion in damages.

Michael Strange was killed west of Kabul in a Chinook helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of another 29 American personnel, including 17 SEALS, and eight Afghan troops.

As a Navy cryptologist technician, Strange provided the SEALS with the same kind of network analysis skills used by NSA at its Ft. Meade, Md., headquarters, according to a job description provided by John Donaldson, a spokesman for the Naval Network Warfare Command.

His duties included “providing in-depth analysis on a variety of complex digital communications signals using sophisticated communications equipment and computer technology." He also was tasked with providing intelligence information and operating "sophisticated state-of-the-art strategic and tactical signals collection and analysis systems,” Donaldson said.

The Chinook was downed by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by an Afghanistan insurgent and 15 of the 17 SEALS onboard were from SEAL Team Six, which three months earlier, on May 2, 2011, carried out the raid in Pakistan that killed Taliban leader Osama  bin Laden.

Charles Strange, Michael’s father, charged last month at a Washington press conference that the helicopter was shot down because it carried 15 members of SEAL Team Six  and was targeted because Vice President Joe Biden had revealed earlier that SEAL Team Six had conducted the raid. The elder Strange threatened a lawsuit against the administration at that time.

In their lawsuit against the NSA, President Obama and Verizon, Charles Strange and his wife Mary Ann, allege that NSA and Verizon accessed their phone records due to their “vocal criticism” of the administration “regarding the circumstances surrounding the shoot-down of their son’s helicopter in Afghanistan…..”

The suit against the NSA – filed with Larry Klayman, founder of the conservative Judicial Watch public interst law firm and Freedom Watch, a conservative advocacy firm – seeks damages for more than 100 million Americans whose phone call records Verizon turned over to NSA on a daily basis.      

The lawsuit -- which also names Attorney General Eric Holder and Judge Roger Vinson of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that oversees NSA snapping -- alleges “outrageous conduct” through the mass collection of telephone metadata that exposed them to an “Orwellian regime of totalitarianism.” 

Rich Young, a Verizon spokesman, said the company views the suit filed by Klayman and the Strange family as "without merit."

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.