A former U.S. intelligence contractor tells Circa he walked away with more than 600 million classified documents on 47 hard drives from the National Security Agency and the CIA, a haul potentially larger than Edward Snowden's now infamous breach.
And now he is suing former FBI Director James Comey and other government figures, alleging the bureau has covered up evidence he provided them showing widespread spying on Americans that violated civil liberties.
The suit, filed late Monday night by Dennis Montgomery, was assigned to the same federal judge who has already ruled that some of the NSA's collection of data on Americans violates the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, setting up an intriguing legal proceeding in the nation’s capital this summer.
Montgomery says the evidence he gave to the FBI chronicle the warrantless collection of phone, financial and personal data and the unmasking of identities in spy data about millions of Americans,.
“This domestic surveillance was all being done on computers supplied by the FBI," Montgomery told Circa in an interview. "So these supercomputers, which are FBI computers, the CIA is using them to do domestic surveillance."
Documents obtained by Circa outside of the lawsuit show that the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington in 2015 approved a grant of limited immunity for Montgomery so he could explain how he managed to walk out of his contract and the buildings he worked in with the classified material.
Montgomery alleges that more than 20 million American identities were illegally unmasked - credit reports, emails, phone conversations and Internet traffic, were some of the items the NSA and CIA collected.
He said he returned the hard drives to the FBI, a fact confirmed in government documents reviewed by Circa.
"They're doing this domestic surveillance on Americans, running a project on U.S. soil," Montgomery alleged. He did not disclose the classified name of the project but said he revealed all aspects of the project during his interview with the FBI.
"Can you imagine what someone can do with the information they were collecting on Americans, can you imagine that kind of power."
Officials with the FBI and CIA declined to comment due to current and pending litigation.
The FBI contacts with Montgomery were encouraged by a senior status federal judge, who encouraged the two sides to meet rather than allow for any of the classified materials to leak, according to interviews Circa conducted.
Montgomery’s lawsuit, which included his lawyer, the well-known conservative activist Larry Klayman, alleges Montgomery provided extensive evidence to the FBI of illegal spying on Americans ranging from judges to businessman like the future President Donald Trump.
The suit did not offer specifics of any illegal spying, but it accused the bureau of failing to take proper actions to rectify Montgomery’s concerns.
Montgomery divulged to the FBI a ”pattern and practice of conducting illegal, unconstitutional surveillance against millions of Americans, including prominent Americans such as the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, other justices, 156 judges, prominent businessmen, and others such as Donald J. Trump, as well as Plaintiffs themselves,” Montgomery and Klayman alleged in their suit.
“Plaintiffs were assured that the FBI, under Defendant Comey, would conduct a full investigation into the grave instances of illegal and unconstitutional activity set forth by Montgomery. However, the FBI, on Defendant Comey’s orders, buried the FBI’s investigation because the FBI itself is involved in an ongoing conspiracy to not only conduct the aforementioned illegal, unconstitutional surveillance, but to cover it up as well,” the suit added.
Klayman and Montgomery also alleged that they have evidence that they themselves have been improperly spied upon by U.S. intelligence. The suit named numerous other defendants as well, including current NSA Director Mike Rogers, former CIA Director John Brennan and even former President Barack Obama.
Court records indicate the suit was assigned in Washington to U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, who in 2015 issued an historic ruling that the NSA’s past bulk collection of Americans’ phone records most likely violated the Constitution.
The agency has since ended that practice but the pending case, which is winding its way through appeals and motions, is likely to shine a light on whether Americans’ civil liberties were violated during more than a decade of the war on terror.
You can follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC