WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Shalom Center joined 21 activist organizations in a lawsuit against the National Security Agency concerning the government’s collection of telephone records.
Collecting people’s records “is illegal, is destructive, and should be stopped,” said Rabbi Arthur Waskow, founder and director of the Philadelphia center.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco and submitted by Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization working to protect civil rights in the digital world.
The Shalom Center joined such diverse groups as People for the American Way, several pro-gun groups and the Council on American Islamic Relations’ California chapter in filing the lawsuit.
Waskow said the Shalom Center is against the government’s record collection for several reasons, including the “Jewish religious tradition about the privacy of people as members of a free society.” He also pointed to his experiences with the FBI during the 1960s and ’70s, which he said attacked those fighting against racism and the Vietnam War.
In an article on his organization’s website, Waskow wrote that because the Shalom Center is active in its opposition to the U.S. government’s actions in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, it may have been recorded by the government.
Government officials have said the NSA tracks phone records to see which calls are made, which they say is legal, but does not listen in on Americans’ calls without a warrant.