Dennis Montgomery had filed at least 18 whistleblower complaints while he was a contractor with the Air Force, the CIA, the NSA, Eric Holder and even Obama. He further noted that 90% of the individuals targeted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller were targets of the illegal data-harvesting program, including information on Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.
So, whatever became of the Montgomery sworn videotaped testimony and the 47 discs of information turned over to the FBI? Apparently, James Baker was aware since he testified before Congress in 2018 about the Trump-Russia collusion case about the issue on cross-examination. Baker noted that Montgomery had presented the FBI with testimony and evidence that the government had engaged in the unlawful electronic surveillance of Americans. In questioning, Baker had to amend previous statements that the FBI had come into possession of the 47 discs.
Regarding the thumb drives that were examined by Wiebe, Drake and Binney, another fact later came out. Wiebe and Drake concluded they were a fraud and con for “personal gain.” They later changed the narrative and placed the blame on Michael Zullo. He failed to tell the NSA experts that the drives were not decrypted. The information on the thumb drives and single disc were not the same drives that Montgomery would later decrypt and turn over to the FBI. Zullo failed to tell them about the meeting with Judge Lamberth on August 1, 2014, nor did he mention that Montgomery’s security clearance was confirmed by Lamberth at that time. Most importantly, Wiebe, Drake, and Binney noted Zullo failed to inform them of the States Secret Privilege (gag order) invoked against Montgomery by John Negroponte.
In March 2017, retired US Air Force Lt. General Thomas McInerney discussed the “whistleblower tapes,” Dennis Montgomery, John Brennan and James Clapper on the Operation Freedom radio show hosted by Dave Janda on WAAM. About 26 minutes later, Peter Strozk of the FBI and Lisa Page exchanged a cryptic text message, and an unidentified “Jim” tips one of them off to the radio broadcast. Strozk replies: “The Klayman/Montgomery stuff in the email Jim sent us is utter BS. Best to say nothing and brief later.” The following morning, FBI director James Comey testified before Congress that the FBI had no evidence to support Trump’s claim that he had been wiretapped.
If we take Montgomery and Klayman at their word, coupled with the whistleblower tapes, we know that not to be necessarily true. It is possible that Comey had never seen any evidence of wiretapping Trump, but that does not absolve the FBI since general counsel James Baker was involved in the receipt of the 47 discs. He testified originally that there was no evidence, then several days later he suddenly remembered Montgomery.
Under questioning he recalled that there were accusations on the part of Montgomery that the government engaged in illegal surveillance of Americans. It should also be noted that Baker is the one who received the infamous Steele dossier from long-time friend, journalist David Corn of Mother Jones as well as other evidence allegedly linking the Trump campaign to Russia received from Michael Sussman, an attorney at Perkins Coie. In essence, it was leaks, likely perpetrated by Baker, which directly led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel.
All of this calls into question Mueller himself. According to Klayman, it was Mueller, as FBI director, who originally supplied the computers to Montgomery in the first place. This comes back to the Strozk-Page text message chain where they start to worry about Trump actually winning the election and Strozk assures Page of an “insurance policy.” Is Mueller that “insurance policy?”
So what to make of this mess? As for Arpaio, he later stated that the material provided to the MCSO by Montgomery was worthless. Whether it was or not, no charges were ever filed against anyone. Then there are the questions about Montgomery himself. One would be inclined to dismiss him as a NSA contractor malcontent who managed to file 18 whistleblower complaints to no effect. Maybe he felt slighted or trivialized, or perhaps it was all for “personal gain.” We do know that there was a failed investigation started by Mueller in 2006. We know that he was smeared in two articles. Regarding the incident that brought him bad notoriety, he merely invented the software. The whole idea behind the software- filtering and deciphering embedded messages in Al Jazeera broadcasts- may have been misguided from the start, but someone at the CIA or FBI thought it worthy of a contract.
In any case, despite being a fraud and possible con man out for personal gain, Montgomery nevertheless continued to receive government contracts and as late as his visit to Judge Lamberth, he maintained a security clearance with the IC. One would think the government would be more discerning when it came to handing out contracts or security clearances.
The biggest question is what happened to the 47 discs of information and what was on them. No reason has been given. Klayman and Montgomery have produced a receipt from the FBI in Miami for the discs, but the receipt is mysteriously not signed by any FBI personnel. Was anything ever turned over?
Then there are the strange coincidences that occur in the context of the Mueller investigation. Mueller concluded the Russians were interfering, but there was no collusion with the Trump campaign or Trump himself. But, if Montgomery is correct, then Mueller would be the last person one would want investigating this issue. The role of James Baker has been discussed.
However, there are other links between Montgomery and the Mueller probe. The two FBI agents who interviewed Montgomery- Walter Giardina and William Barnett- ended up on Mueller’s team of investigators. They were both involved in the investigation of Michael Flynn. Although Peter Strozk was one FBI agent who actually interviewed Flynn, the other was apparently Joe Pientka. Giardina and Barnett interviewed freelance editor Hank Cox who helped Flynn pen an op-ed in The Hill reflecting the Turkish government’s view of a dissident cleric living in Pennsylvania who had been critical of Turkey and Erdogan. The work was paid for by a Turkish businessman with close ties to Erdogan. Another name we heard before- that of Deborah Curtis- was brought onto the Mueller probe to prosecute Maria Butina and later was an assistant prosecutor in the Flynn case.
The problem may be that Mueller, Comey, Baker, Curtis and others likely dismissed Montgomery’s claims out of hand given the reputation that was seeded in publications like Playboy and Wired. It may be that Mueller had a grudge against him having been thwarted in 2006. Granted, Montgomery is not exactly a fine character witness for himself, but there are too many coincidences to ignore and dots not to connect. Much of what people like Montgomery, Binney, Wiebe and others were saying early on were later confirmed by Edward Snowden. Was there a parallel surveillance system called HAMMER operating alongside or outside the purview of what Snowden knew at the NSA as a contractor?
Finally, there is the timing of everything to consider. As later revelations came to light, it became apparent that certain actors had turned to the FISA system, or accessing the NSA database, often through FBI and CIA contractors, starting in or about 2012. This was also the time that Montgomery, thought to have been neutralized, mired in legal and financial problems, and simply hanging out in a suburb of Seattle, started to get noticed again thanks to Joe Arpaio. Perhaps, the main actors moved from HAMMER because things were getting too hot and they had to shut down the operation. Whatever the answer to the questions is, we will likely never know. Such is the stuff of conspiracy theory…or perhaps an ugly truth.
Next: A 4-part look at Benghazi