MAINSTREAM MEDIA FAILS TO REPORT FISA JUDGE’S CONFIRMATION OF CODES SUPPLIED BY FORMER CIA CONTRACTOR DENNIS MONTGOMERY
by Sharon Rondeau
However, the official court transcripts present the facts differently as testifed to by Maricopa County Deputy Chief Gerard (Jerry) Sheridan.
The trial opened on April 21 as a result of a contempt charge leveled by U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow claiming that Arpaio defied a December 23, 2011 preliminary injunction to cease stopping individuals solely on the suspicion that they might be illegal aliens.
The underlying lawsuit, Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres, et. al., vs. Joseph M. Arpaio, et. al., resulted in the appointment of a federal “Community Liaison Officer” to ensure Arpaio’s cooperation with Snow’s order to uphold the “constitutional rights of the Plaintiff’s class.” Melendres and four other plaintiffs claimed that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office had discriminated against them and all Latinos in actions amounting to “racial profiling.”
In March, Arpaio and Deputy Sheriff Jerry Sheridan accepted responsibility for having “violated the Court’s orders” in a brief submitted by counsel proposing that compensation be paid to anyone harmed by their actions and that the April 21 trial be canceled. Rather than going to trial, Arpaio’s attorneys suggested that an agreement could be reached among the community liaison officer, court-appointed monitor Robert Warshaw, and counsel for plaintiffs and defendants.
In a footnote on page 4 of the brief, the defendants’ attorneys supported their position by quoting Snow’s February status conference statement of “I don’t want to refer this matter to a criminal contempt hearing if I can have adequate assurance—if I can have adequate remedies for the victims of this case; if I can have, if I believe it is necessary, a punitive element to the individuals who may have been culpable of criminal contemptuous behavior such that it will not happen again.”
In official transcripts of the hearings which The Post & Email has seen, Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph Arpaio told the court during testimony on Thursday, April 23, that a “confidential informant,” Dennis Montgomery, had stated that “someone” had carried out wiretapping and email breaches against “judges,” Arpaio and his attorneys as well as breaching the bank accounts of more than 50,000 Maricopa County residents.
During questioning of Arpaio, Snow suggested that the party breaching phones and email accounts was the Department of Justice, which Arpaio did not confirm.
In 2009, NPR conducted an interview of Aram Roston, who wrote an article about Montgomery titled “The Man Who Conned the Pentagon.” On February 19, 2011, New York Times authors Eric Lichtblau and James Risen reported that “For eight years, government officials turned to Dennis Montgomery, a California computer programmer, for eye-popping technology that he said could catch terrorists. Now, federal officials want nothing to do with him and are going to extraordinary lengths to ensure that his dealings with Washington stay secret.”
Risen is the author of a book entitled, “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War” which describes Montgomery as “a failed gambler” who “managed to fool the C.I.A. into believing that he had devised a means for decoding Qaeda messages.”
In February of this year, Montgomery filed suit against Risen; The New York Times; Risen’s publisher, Houghton Mifflin; and other defendants, claiming “defamation and other tortious conduct.”
Snow asked Arpaio how Montgomery was compensated for his work. “…as a confidential informant, his fees would have to be paid, or approved, if in fact it was before the transfer of Captain Bailey, his fees would have had to have been approved by Captain Bailey, or any payments to him would have had to have been approved by Captain Bailey?” Snow asked.
Arpaio responded, “I’m not sure at the time period, Your Honor.”
Referring to an article in The Phoenix New Times, Snow then said, “Now, the article says that you were personally conducting these investigations and personally aware of them. Were you?” to which Arpaio replied, “Well, on a certain issue I was.”
“And what issue was that?” Snow queried, to which Arpaio responded, “It was the president’s birth certificate.”
Snow: Okay. So you were — Mr. Montgomery was doing research into the president’s birth certificate. Did Mr. Montgomery
ever tell you — or, well, did you ever use Mr. Montgomery to investigate anything about the Department of Justice?
Arpaio: I don’t believe that Montgomery was involved in the birth certificate. It was other violations that he was looking into.
Snow then asked if he or any of his family had been investigated by Arpaio’s office, to which Arpaio replied that his counsel had hired an investigator to look into “some comments that came to our attention.”
The comments, reportedly made by Snow’s wife, indicated that Snow wanted to see that Arpaio is not re-elected. In January, Arpaio announced that he would seek re-election to a seventh consecutive four-year term.
In testimony on April 24, Sheridan testified that he had oversight for investigators who worked with Montgomery at his home in Seattle, WA over a period of time.
Snow: How often did you report to Sheriff Arpaio about what they were doing?
Sheridan: We got weekly updates, sometimes twice a week.
Snow: Think he understood what they were doing?
Sheridan: I would think so, yes.
Snow: You heard him yesterday say that the DOJ was wiretapping me and other judges, and that that was part of that investigation. You heard that testimony, didn’t you?
Sheridan: Yes, sir.
Snow: I didn’t hear you say anything about that. Was that part of the investigation?
Sheridan: I — it’s my recollection that I don’t believe you were.
In mainstream news coverage of the testimony relating to Snow’s wife, a WSFA report stated that Arpaio’s assignment of a private investigator to ascertain the veracity of the tip submitted by a member of the community that Snow’s wife had been overheard stating that her husband wanted to see that Arpaio not be re-elected amounted to a “secret investigation” which could result in additional “consequences” because “Federal law prohibits trying to intimidate or inappropriately influence a federal judge.”
In an article absent proper punctuation and grammar, station KSAZ erroneously contended that Arpaio “even admitted his attorney had the judge’s wife investigated over comments she allegedly made.”
On April 28, 2012, KPHO erroneously reported the first Cold Case Posse press conference as having occurred on March 1, 2011 and stated that “Both the birth certificate and draft registration are hot-button topics which have been discussed and dissected for several years.”
In a counterpoint, the article presented Arpaio’s explanation in court as “A private investigator does not just ‘investigate’ but can also conduct research, and researching whether the judge in this case is biased against the Sheriff’s Office would be important because of the level of oversight Snow seeks with his monitor.”
A separate Arizona Central article characterized the investigation of the veracity of Snow’s wife’s comments as Arpaio having “confirmed the probe” of the judge’s wife. The writer reported that Snow “did not flinch” after Arpaio provided his response. “It’s not the first time Arpaio has apparently flexed his investigative muscle to target a political enemy,” the outlet reported.
KPTV described Snow’s wife’s reported comments as simply “critical” of the sheriff. The AP reported that it queried the U.S. Attorney and FBI as to whether or not they would “examine” Arpaio’s “investigation of Snow’s wife,” although during testimony, Arpaio stressed that those making the claim about her comments were questioned, not Snow’s wife.
Fox News Radio’s Alan Colmes, who has interviewed Arpaio on his Cold Case Posse‘s investigation into Obama’s long-form birth certificate and Selective Service registration form, determining that they are “computer-generated forgeries,” reposted part of a report from Your West Valley which stated of the contempt hearing: “The case has battered Arpaio’s legacy. He was once a hero to conservatives across the country for taking on immigration but has seen his political strength weaken with a series of negative court rulings and lawsuits.”
During testimony on Friday under questioning from Snow, Sheridan stated that Montgomery had reported that the Department of Justice had engaged in “wiretaps” of his phone, the phones and email accounts of two law firms representing the MCSO in Justice’s abuse of power case against Arpaio, and Snow’s email account.
Although Sheridan did not mention the word “collusion,” Snow asked, “If in fact the sheriff thought there might have been some improper collusion between me and the Department of Justice, can you blame him if he wanted to investigate that further?” to which Sheridan responded, “Well, there was — there was really nothing to think that there was any collusion.”
“Did you ever hear the sheriff describe his work as an investigation of a conspiracy, or something of that nature, between the Department of Justice and me?” Snow continued. “No, sir,” was the response. Snow then asked, “Did you ever hear him describe it as an investigation of me to anyone at the MCSO?”
Sheridan responded, in relevant part, by detailing his instructions to investigators of Montgomery’s claims, “This is a direct order from me. You are not to investigate any information involving Judge Snow. If any further information comes up, I want to know immediately. Nothing ever did materialize.”
Regarding Dennis Montgomery, Snow asked, “Let me ask you, Montgomery’s simply a computer consultant, isn’t he?” to which Sheridan responded, “Well, that’s what he is now. He did work for, and this had been verified, and you can google his name and find all kinds of crazy stuff about him, but there were some pieces of information that were verified and credible also. So like many informants that we deal with, there’s a very shady side of them and then there’s also a very credible side for them.”
On Friday, Sheridan testified that some of the information Montgomery had imparted was consistent with “typical wiretap numbers” as confirmed by a federal FISA court judge in Washington, DC. “We had a seated justice in Washington — I can’t recall his name; I have it written down on my pad, Your Honor — that is a member of the FISA court in Washington, D.C. We had Mr. Mon — because the sheriff and I were concerned about the CIA wiretapping our phones. This justice actually confirmed that these were typical wiretap numbers, and so it did give Mr. Montgomery a little more credibility with us,” Sheridan said.
Sheridan’s statements about the confirmation of the codes Montgomery identified were not reported by any media outlets.
In 2007, Montgomery’s home was raided as a result of civil litigation in which he had become involved with a software developer with whom he had partnered for a time. According to a report dated March 20, 2007, U.S. Magistrate for the District of Nevada Valerie Cooke stated that an FBI special agent “‘prepared search warrant affidavits that are riddled with incorrect statements, edited documents, and uncorroborated conclusions, which caused this court’ to grant the warrant.” Cooke concluded that Montgomery’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated as a result of the intrusion.
In 2008, Arpaio’s office came under investigation and was sued by the Department of Justice for “abuse of power,” but the case was abruptly dropped in late August 2012. In his testimony, Sheridan stated that Montgomery had told them that wiretapping had been done on two law firms which represented the MCSO in the DOJ case, including Atty. Joseph Popolizio.
In regard to the DOJ probe, WSFA reported on April 27 that “A federal grand jury conducted a nearly three-year investigation of Arpaio’s office on criminal abuse-of-power allegations. The investigation was closed in 2012 without any charges being filed.” The report was titled, “Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s re-election chances called into question.”
Last year, Maricopa County Cold Case Posse lead investigator Mike Zullo had announced that an ongoing investigation had “turned very dark.” In recent broadcasts, Gallups, who has followed the posse’s work closely over more than two years, has said that certain “legal hurdles” are in the process of being overcome.
On Thursday, through his attorney, Larry Klayman, Montgomery filed a Motion to Intervene and a Motion to Recuse/Disqualify Judge G. Murray Snow “under 28 U.S. C. §144.”
In support of his position, Montgomery contended in the first brief that “The legal opinion of Professor Ronald Rotunda, a renowned expert on Professional Responsibility and Constitutional Law, is attached and incorporated herein in support of this Court’s disqualification. (Exhibit 1). As explained by Professor Rotunda, Judge Snow now has – by his own admission – an incurable personal interest in the case, at least in this new phase of this case as it has metastasized into something entirely new. At this stage, Judge Snow is the sole decision-maker in the case.
“By his own official inquiry, statements, and questions in open court, on the transcript, Judge Snow admits that the investigation now concerns – at least as the Judge believes – the Judge’s wife.”
Montgomery’s pleadings are as follows: