“A MASSIVE BREACH OF INDIVIDUAL PRIVACY”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 7, 2015) — Last February, former CIA contractor Dennis Montgomery filed a civil suit against James Risen, author of Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War; his publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; and HMH Holdings, Inc., the parent company of HMH.
Risen is a national security columnist for The New York Times, having most recently written about an opinion issued by a three-judge appeals court panel regarding whether or not mass collection of Americans’ phone records by the National Security Agency (NSA) could continue. The panel’s decision remanded a case brought by Atty. Larry Klayman challenging the surveillance back to U.S. District Court Judge Richard C. Leon, who had ruled in December 2013 that the practice was “likely unconstitutional.”
Klayman represents Montgomery in his case against Risen, et al. The action is assigned to Judge Jose E. Martinez, with Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman having presided over hearings dating back to at least May 28.
Montgomery’s software was reportedly used by several government entities to assist in detecting and preventing future terrorist attacks.
In a December 2009 Playboy article by Aram Roston, Montgomery is described as “The Man Who Conned the Pentagon,” a story which was duplicated by NPR, an Australian news source, attrition.org, and numerous other websites.
Playboy’s story was described as “remarkable” by Wired.com shortly after it was published.
In 2006, Montgomery’s home was raided by FBI agents which a federal magistrate judge and U.S. District Court Judge ruled was a violation of Montgomery’s constitutional rights by the way in which the warrant was obtained.
In a press release following a quickly-scheduled hearing in response to the appeals court’s decision on the NSA’s data collection activities, Klayman predicted that the agency’s mass surveillance will soon come to an end. Leon indicated that with the appellate court’s approval, he will take the case to trial, reportedly providing guidance to Klayman on how to solidify his “standing” to sue.
Klayman additionally represented Montgomery in several attempts to intervene in a civil suit filed in late 2007 by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio and several of his employees for allegedly racially-profiling Latinos during traffic stops and immigration sweeps.
Montgomery’s requests were denied by U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In early May, Snow demanded the collection of Montgomery’s work product and emails exchanged between Montgomery and several individuals directed to work with him as a confidential informant for Arpaio.
Snow also granted a request from the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene in the case and take custody of approximately 50 hard drives produced by Montgomery for Arpaio.
Klayman has petitioned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to order Snow off the case for conflict of interest. In a column written at WND in May, Klayman wrote that Snow was a “top candidate for impeachment” for his alleged attempt “to destroy a fine law enforcement official like Sheriff Arpaio and a courageous whistleblower like Dennis Montgomery” as well as his refusal to recuse himself from the Melendres case.
In his latest book, Risen characterized Montgomery as having carried out a hoax on the U.S. government. According to a report from U.S. News & World Report, Risen included Montgomery’s dispute of Risen’s claims in the book.
Montgomery alleges that Risen damaged his reputation and placed him in danger of retribution from Islamic terrorists “who have sworn to attack those assisting the U.S. military and Government.”
The most recent action in Montgomery’s lawsuit against Risen occurred on September 3. On August 31, Risen’s attorneys filed a motion to extend a September 16 deadline for the “discovery-completion date” to November 30, to which Klayman objected on his client’s behalf.
The defendants’ attorneys also demanded that Montgomery turn over more documentation to them as part of their quest to vindicate their clients.
In a transcript of a “discovery” hearing in the case dated August 21, 2015, Klayman confirmed that Montgomery was deposed for seven hours the previous day. Contrary to the defendants’ claims in their motion, Klayman told the court that Montgomery had provided all necessary discovery other than “likely classified” software.
“For the last year, Mr. Montgomery has, for more than a year, has been coming forward as a whistleblower to the NSA, the CIA, the Department of Defense, the FBI, and the Department of Justice and other agencies, including Congress in trying to provide information to the FBI so they could look at it. Because one of the things that he has that is not part of this lawsuit, is what appears to be unconstitutional surveillance on hundreds of millions of American citizens, including federal judges. So that has been turned over to the FBI,” Klayman declared.
The attorney additionally cited “sensitivity” surrounding the proposed provision of classified materials “to a private source.”
During testimony on April 23 and 24 in Snow’s courtroom in Arizona, Arpaio and his chief deputy, Gerard Sheridan, respectively confirmed that Montgomery was performing work which had revealed that Snow’s communications and those of other federal judges had been breached by an unnamed government entity along with tens of thousands of bank accounts belonging to Maricopa County residents.
When Goodman asked Klayman when Montgomery, who has been in poor health, provided his software to the FBI, Klayman responded, “He provided it to them three days ago. It has been in the process to provide that to them and he provided them a lot of other information too, which they are looking at because it is classified information and he is a whistleblower.”
After Goodman accused Klayman of engaging in “rhetoric and argument,” he asked him to relate “in factual format the description of the other information turned over besides the software” (p. 20).
Klayman responded that “It, basically, is evidence of mass surveillance of American citizens…It includes credit card numbers, banking information, names of millions of Americans.”
After a recess necessitated by unfinished business from a previous case hearing, Klayman continued detailing his client’s deposition the previous day, stating, “He has information that government agencies, much like happened with NSA and Edward Snowden and others have been doing massive surveillance on American citizens, including federal judges, magistrates, members of Congress and others and operating illegally here in the United States, CIA.”
Edward Snowden was an NSA contractor who left the country in early June 2013 and released classified information to The Guardian regarding the scope of the NSA’s collection of Americans’ personal information, whether or not they are suspected of terrorist activity or planning.
When Goodman impatiently asked Klayman how arrangements were made for Montgomery to turn over the information to the FBI, Klayman said that [U.S. District Court Royce C.] Lamberth “had contacted the FBI because of information that Mr. Montgomery had” (p. 21).
Klayman then explained that he approached Lamberth because he was acquainted with him from cases arising during the ’90s and his belief that Lamberth is “an extremely reputable and honest person with great integrity.” Klayman stated that his purpose in contacting Lamberth was to find a way to convey Montgomery’s “information,” which he said was classified, “to the government.”
“I didn’t look at it. Nobody looked at it, but we wanted to come forward and because Mr. Montgomery, long before he became my client had been trying, as I mentioned earlier, to come forward as a whistleblower to various government agencies and nobody wanted to listen to him,” Klayman told Goodman.
On June 30, Klayman filed a lawsuit representing Montgomery against ACLU President Susan Herman and the attorneys representing the Melendres plaintiffs, claiming that in an ethical breach, they had failed to disclose that Montgomery had approached them with the same information which he later provided to Arpaio.
When Goodman commented that Klayman’s approaching Lamberth seemed “somewhat unorthodox,” Klayman responded, “It is unorthodox because this has never been done before. We have never been in this situation,” not identifying exactly what the “situation” is.
Klayman indicated that “the general counsel of the FBI James Baker [sic] facilitated bringing in a team of agents to turn it over,” meaning Montgomery’s information, which Klayman indicated also was provided to the U.S. Department of Justice. Klayman added that Montgomery “has continuing access to documentation which is not classified…so if there is anything that we need from what was turned over, it is still accessible to Mr. Montgomery” (p. 26).
After Goodman asked if a contract was executed defining Montgomery’s ownership or rights to the information, Klayman responded that “There is a document that was produced. It’s a letter prepared by the U.S. attorney on behalf of the Justice Department, which says that, in effect, Mr. Montgomery has immunity for turning this over in terms of the documentation.”
On page 28 of the transcript, Klayman told the court that Montgomery retained the “top secret clearance” he had been given while working as a contractor for the CIA and NSA following the September 11 attacks.
Klayman then stated that he and his client oppose the Risen defendants’ motion to extend the September 16 deadline because “Montgomery is seriously ill and he may not live.” Klayman claimed that as a result, “the FBI is moving with great speed on this…”
On April 30, Klayman was quoted as having contended in a legal brief filed in his NSA lawsuit that “U.S. intelligence agencies have ‘harvested’ the personal and private data of ‘hundreds of federal officials and judges, including Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg,’” citing Montgomery’s research.
Klayman then informed the court that during his recent deposition of Risen, Risen said that the statements he made about Montgomery in his book did not arise from classified information. Klayman asserted that consequently, the materials turned over to the DOJ and FBI were not relevant to Risen’s defense.
Page 33 of the transcript quotes Klayman as having said that Montgomery’s “other stuff” “deals with a massive breach of individual privacy throughout the United States and that has nothing to do with this case.”