“A CUT-AND-PASTE JOB”?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 12, 2019) — A September 7 article at The American Report claims that former Maricopa County Cold Case Posse lead investigator Mike Zullo and former CIA counterintelligence investigator Kevin Shipp have launched “baseless attacks” against former NSA and CIA contractor Dennis Montgomery.
In late May, Shipp publicly disagreed with “Operation Freedom” host Dr. Dave Janda and his guests, former NSA program developers J. Kirk Wiebe and William Binney, as to whether or not “parallel platforms” used to conduct surveillance on American citizens exist within the U.S. intelligence community and specifically, a mega-computer known as “The Hammer” which Montgomery claims he participated in constructing.
In early July, Zullo learned of Shipp’s position challenging the existence of The Hammer and parallel platforms. Zullo in turn contacted Shipp and advised him of the information gathered during the two-year MCSO investigation into that matter. Zullo provided Shipp with some new information and believed Shipp received some bad intel from his original source. This conversation with Zullo prompted Shipp to reconsider his initial opinion on the existence of “parallel platforms” and The Hammer. Zullo, was not Shipp’s original source.
Based on his conversations with Zullo, Shipp changed his position on the existence of “parallel platforms” and removed from his YouTube channel a video in which he had denied the existence of “The Hammer.”
Janda had interviewed Shipp previously on other topics, although the two remain in disagreement over The American Report’s depiction of Montgomery as a whistleblower.
On August 1, Shipp and “Crowdsource the Truth” host Jason Goodman hosted Zullo and this writer to detail Montgomery’s history, as Zullo knew it, beginning in late 2013 with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). At that time, Montgomery claimed to have millions of pages of data showing that a government agency or agencies had illegally spied on innocent Americans and breached the bank accounts of more than 150,000 Maricopa County residents.
Montgomery first provided six thumb drives to the MCSO, Zullo said, which were found to contain “verifiable” information. On that basis, then-Sheriff Joseph Arpaio decided the claim merited investigation and in early 2014 hired Montgomery to work as a confidential informant to assemble the data and place it on hard drives for possible federal investigation.
In November 2015, Zullo, who had not spoken publicly about his supervisory role of Montgomery’s work for the sheriff’s office in what became known as the “Seattle operation,” testified at the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona in hearings aimed at determining whether or not Arpaio was in contempt of court in the case of Melendres, et al v. Arpaio, et al. During questioning, plaintiffs’ attorney Stanley Young asked Zullo about Montgomery’s work for the MCSO confidential informant as well as the recordings Zullo had made on his iPhone of the conversations among Blixseth, Montgomery, Arpaio, Det. Brian Mackiewicz and himself which initiated the relationship.
Zullo has since reported that Montgomery failed to provide evidence supporting his claims of massive and unwarranted government surveillance of American citizens. Nevertheless, Zullo has maintained, Montgomery’s claims should be investigated and “he has a story to tell.”
Recent reports at The Post & Email about Montgomery’s past have been based on Zullo’s eyewitness accounts; portions of federal court transcripts and FBI interviews; media articles; and federal judicial opinions in cases involving Montgomery.
In 2007 Montgomery claimed his former business partner, Warren Trepp, who Montgomery sued after Trepp sued him, offered bribes to then-Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons. The claim was investigated and closed by the FBI without a recommendation of a criminal charge.
During the investigation, Montgomery was accused of fabricating emails.
At the time, Matt Apuzzo, now of The New York Times, reported for the AP:
The federal investigation arose from allegations by a former employee at eTreppid Technologies LLC, who said company founder Warren Trepp lavished Gibbons with money and a Caribbean cruise in exchange for help winning defense contracts for the company. But the credibility of the employee, Dennis Montgomery, was put in doubt after a computer expert questioned the authenticity of e-mails he claimed proved Gibbons was accepting freebies.
“Two years ago when this story broke I told my side of it, that I had nothing to do with it,” Gibbons said. “Today I am exceedingly pleased that the FBI and the Justice Department have vindicated me from the allegations and claims of Mr. Montgomery.”
In 2016, Montgomery contacted Zullo “out of the blue” complaining about his financial situation after the Sheriff’s Office terminated his service as a Confidential Informant in early 2015. Getting nowhere with Zullo, Mongomery in retaliation filed a complaint with the MCSO’s Internal Affairs division claiming that Zullo had “threatened” him in a text message. An investigation commenced and Zullo said he was called in for an interview. Zullo produced the text messages.
“No such threat was ever made and the probe was closed without any official action,” Zullo said, adding that he did not hear anything further on the issue. Zullo said that this is not the first time Montgomery has taken to false accusations in a retaliatory effort.
Fanning and Jones claim that The Hammer was the technology used to spy on Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign cycle and afterward. They also claim that Montgomery is still bound by the State Secrets Privilege. In 2007, then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte invoked the State Secrets Privilege on Montgomery in his federal lawsuit against his former business partner, Warren Trepp. While Fanning and Jones have reported that the State Secrets Privilege is permanent, in 2016 U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras encouraged Montgomery to come forward with the software he claimed functioned as purported to make his case against defendant and author James Risen, who claimed Montgomery had made false assertions about his software.
In the 1953 case United States v. Reynolds, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the State Secrets Privilege is activated only by a government agent and can neither be initiated nor perpetuated by a private citizen. “The privilege belongs to the Government and must be asserted by it; it can neither be claimed nor waived by a private party,” the opinion states. “It is not to be lightly invoked. There must be a formal claim 8*8 of privilege, lodged by the head of the department which has control over the matter, after actual personal consideration by that officer.“
In his July 2016 opinion in favor of Risen, Contreras acknowledged he was aware that the government had placed a protective order and SSP on Montgomery previously, writing, in part:
The Court also has serious reason to doubt that the software is, in fact, classified, and would not be subject to production. For one thing, orders issued in a Nevada case between Montgomery and eTreppid specifically noted that the government had not deemed the software classified or subject to the state secrets privilege in that proceeding. That privilege “is a common law evidentiary rule that protects information from discovery when disclosure would be inimical to the national security.” In re United States, 872 F.2d 472, 474 (D.C. Cir. 1989). The privilege “belongs to the Government and must be asserted by it; it can neither be claimed nor waived by a private party.” United States v. Reynolds, 345 U.S. 1, 7 (1953) (footnotes omitted). In the Nevada case, the Government intervened and asserted the state secrets privilege over certain documents—but the Protective Order entered explicitly did not preclude the parties “from serving or taking any discovery from other parties or third parties relating to, or questioning . . . [t]he computer source code, software, programs, or technical specifications relating to any 33 technology owned or claimed by any of the Parties.” See ECF No. 94-2. A magistrate judge handling that case subsequently rejected Montgomery’s claims that he could not defend the case without violating his “secrecy oath and compromising national security,” noting that the “clear understanding in drafting and issuing th[e] protective order was that the parties would be discussing the nature and capabilities of the technology, and the type of work each party performed for the government.” See Order Regarding Source Code Disc., ECF No. 94-3. The United States, which participated in aspects of that litigation, did not take a contrary position.
Among other unverified statements, The American Report article of September 7 claimed:
Montgomery’s former attorney Larry E. Klayman responded to Montgomery regarding the baseless attacks perpetrated against Montgomery by Mike Zullo and Kevin Shipp “he has a point as there are ‘a*******’ (not Jason) apparently talking about him [Dennis] and speculating without basis.”
The statement speaks of Klayman in the third person and depicts Klayman “responding” to Montgomery in the third person, with a possible reference to Goodman.
On Tuesday Zullo told The Post & Email that based on his sources, he has doubts that Klayman, who represented Montgomery in several legal actions between 2015 and 2017, wrote such an email. “The email purportedly from Larry Klayman is extremely suspect,” Zullo said. “The email indicates it was sent from Mr. Klayman; however, there is no information who it was sent to, nor does it contain the initial email prompting the response. So we do not have the complete thread. From its content it does not appear to have been sent in response to a prior email sent by Dennis Montgomery because Montgomery is identified in the third person as someone who will be sent this email. Was it sent to Mary Fanning? Where did it originate, and for what purpose? These questions need to be answered.”
“Looking at this email, I do not believe this was an email sent from Larry Klayman,” Zullo said. “I have known Klayman since 2012. I have dozens of emails from Larry. Larry has a very unique way of signing off on his emails and THX is not it. In addition the spacing of the two sentences contained in the email do not correspond to the spacing from the header. This looks like a cut-and-paste job. However, it appears to address a ‘Point Made by Montgomery.’ This would indicate that there was an early dialog in a preceding email raising this issue, if in fact there ever was an originating email.”
Another point Zullo raised is the alleged property receipts reportedly given to Montgomery when he turned over 47 hard drives, allegedly containing evidence of government surveillance, to the FBI in late 2015. “Even more concerning is the contents of the email itself and the display of the two documents,” Zullo said. “These are the very same evidence property receipts that have been a point of contention some weeks back. The fact that the two documents are missing witness signatures is very suspect. The fact that Klayman purportedly states that they should have agents’ signatures is very suspect; it appears to be an attempt to give justification as to why the documents’ signatures were overlooked, as a mistake.
“Klayman was Montgomery’s lawyer at the time. He would have retained all copies of any documentation provided by the government. To suggest he needs these documents, as if he does not have them, and he states he will forward them to Dennis when he is no longer his attorney makes no sense. It would also suggest that Montgomery did not have these documents. These documents could only come from three sources: the FBI, Larry Klayman, or Dennis Montgomery. We know the FBI did not release these. We know Klayman did not release these without Montgomery’s authorization, and as a matter of fact the email suggests Klayman did not even have them. The only person capable of releasing them is Dennis Montgomery. Who did Montgomery release these to prior to this email, Mary Fanning?
“On top of that I have it from a very reliable source that there are in fact two receipts that were created when Montgomery met with the FBI. I have been informed that two receipts were properly filled out at the time and both do in fact have agents’ signatures on them. These two do not. So whatever these things are, they are not the receipts that were created when Montgomery and Klayman met with the FBI. So what they are and how were they created needs to be determined. Given Montgomery’s history, I do not believe them to be authentic at this time.
“I think that this email is a contrived attempt to try to explain away the difficulties that the property receipts missing signatures have created, as outlined by Shipp. This is another wayward attempt to give justification to the challenge of the documents in question. I also believe it is conveniently designed to have Montgomery be portrayed as a victim of some baseless accusation, again trying to give him credibility, much like the ridiculous Challenge coins displayed in this article.
“I challenge Mary Fanning to release the full thread and to contact Larry Klayman and authenticate the email with a written statement from him. This should be very simple to do because Klayman is no longer Montgomery’s attorney and has not been for a good while. This is not under an attorney-client privilege because it is an email purporting to be from Klayman to an undisclosed party. It has zero involvement with Montgomery. I bet she doesn’t because she can’t. And if she does not authenticate the email, it should be disregarded and chalked off to another altered fictitious document in a long string of fictitious documents. I do not believe this email was ever sent by Klayman. Prove me wrong.”
As to the “Challenge” coins which Fanning and Jones claim Montgomery received as accolades from various military officials for his government work, Zullo said, “The notion that a collection of government-agency coins purportedly acquired by Montgomery in any way suggests that they are a gesture of appreciation of Montgomery’s technological contributions to America’s national defense is absolute nonsense. First off, I must have 50 ‘Challenge’ coins collected over the years by various LE officials. That are tokens and not any sign of some type of meritorious service. In addition, these coins can be bought on eBay for a mere $20 each. This is the same collection of coins he showed us when we first met him in 2013. They had zero influence over us in 2013 and they prove zero today. To put it simply, these coins are a dime a dozen. Even if he received them as he claims they are nothing more than a novelty and do not prove him or his story credible.”
As for the list of patents Fanning and Jones list on their website under Montgomery’s name, they are all related to software that do not support his breaching claim.
On July 5, Fanning told Goodman that Montgomery is a former “biochemical engineer.” While Montgomery did not respond to this writer’s question as to the accuracy of that statement, it does not appear in his Wikipedia biography; rather, the bio states that he is a “former medical technician,” a claim supported by employment information supplied to the FBI by Trepp (p. 52).
On the point of Montgomery’s patents as presented by Fanning and Jones, Zullo said, “While Mongomery may hold some patents, this alone does not mean any of the software he has created actually works. Also what is glaringly missing is any patent for “MEDUSA,” the supposed breaching software he claims he created for the Government. He showed us a patent document for it in 2013; however, in 2019 it appears no patent was ever issued. A typical ploy is to file for patents to give the appearance of credibility and the illusion that your product is valuable and authentic. Just filing for a patient does not prove much.”
Zullo characterized the newest American Report article as “garbage reporting.” “It is a nonsensical timeline Fanning puts forth, where somehow she wants the reader to believe her tweet to the President of the United States on March 4th, 2017 somehow is impactful, a tweet amongst thousands and that no one responded to.
“Because Trump declared he was wiretapped on March 4th, 2017, Fanning then tried to weave a tapestry of events together to somehow credit her reporting and tie a chain of events together linking them back to The Hammer. There is zero direct evidence that The Hammer was even operational in 2015, 2016 or 2017 or that it was in fact used. This is a speculative conjecture trash. This is plain garbage.
“To enlighten Mary Fanning, the Sheriff’s Office had the intel on Trump and The Hammer since 2013. If you recall Sheriff Arpaio was the first public figure to endorse Trump for POTUS early on in his campaign. They have campaigned together, talked on the phone, and had private meetings.
“Does Mary Fanning really think that her tweet ‘which nobody read’ and her late-to-the-party ‘Whistleblower’ articles in 2017 (the basis for which [recordings] were released some two years earlier in 2015 by The Phoenix New Times) was the first time Donald Trump was made aware of these things by Mary Fanning? Let me help her. That all happened way before 2017 and her tweets and her Hammer story are fairy tales.”
As Blixseth referenced in those recorded conversations with Arpaio, Zullo and Det. Brian Mackiewicz on various dates in late 2013 and early 2014 and leaked to The Phoenix New Times in November 2015, Carl Cameron, then of Fox News Channel, was reportedly made aware of Montgomery’s claims.
Zullo confirmed on Wednesday that he and Mackiewicz had dinner with Cameron after Cameron spent two days videotaping Montgomery about his claims of government surveillance. An email between Cameron and Montgomery which was discussed during the Melendres hearings showed that Montgomery did not substantiate his claims so that Cameron and FNC were able to run the story. Zullo confirmed the authenticity of this email, as he had received a copy of it in 2014 during the investigation and turned it over to a federal court under subpoena.
The American Report article does not mention how the Cameron/Montgomery relationship ended, but rather, states that Cameron “spent a week conducting never-aired interviews with Montgomery” and was in awe of Montgomery’s collection of “Challenge” coins.
Zullo also pointed out the context of the email from Fox News. “Fox News was dealing with Montgomery prior to our involvement. It is the same page out of Montgomery’s playbook. (‘I have the data, I’ll tell you about the data. I’ll make you think I will give you the data. But in the end I fall short and don’t produce the data, and then I will blame you.’) Always the perpetual victim.”
Zullo went on to state that the entire episode with Fanning and Jones and Montgomery is just a repeat of the things he told investigators in 2013. “He talked a lot; the story sounds good, but he never produced conclusive evidence,” Zullo said, adding that he would “bet his bottom dollar that Montgomery has pitched Fanning and Jones on his compression software and his stock market software that he claims can predict the next moves on the Dow Jones with 78% accuracy. He was looking for investors and pitched these to me in 2013. He is always trying to sell somebody on his software.”