“Would the FBI grant a ‘con man’ immunity?”
A Birther Report headline is not always accurate or informative, and the latest one there, “Report: Sheriff Joe’s Informant & CIA Whistleblower Granted Immunity; so Much for Con Man Label?” by Sharon Rondeau, provides more heat than light about Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s confidential informant, Dennis Montgomery (pictured right).
So what is this grant of immunity? It’s vague, and the source is Montgomery’s attorney, Larry Klayman. According to an August 21, 2015 discovery hearing transcript in the Montgomery v. Risen defamation lawsuit (Montgomery is suing NY Times writer James Risen for calling him a con man). Klayman cited a letter from the US Attorney granting immunity for some documents Montgomery agreed to provide them. This is what Klayman said:
After [Magistrate Judge Jonathan] 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.”
The immunity (and I haven’t seen the US Attorney’s letter) appears to be limited in scope to one set of documents.
At issue in the Risen case is whether Montgomery is indeed a con man, and whether or not he sold bogus software to the government to find alleged Al Qaeda messages hidden in bar codes in Al Jazeera broadcasts. Naturally that software would be of interest in the discovery process, and despite a motion by Klayman to stay discovery of this software, Judge Goodman ordered September 3 that the software be produced to defendants. Judge Goodman said:
The evidence is highly relevant. In fact, it is critical.
The BR headline seems to imply that a grant of immunity means innocence. That’s actually backwards. Immunity is granted typically in exchange for something the government wants that might be incriminating. It’s not something granted because the government has great faith in an informant.
The following is something that would never be allowed into the Wikipedia, but I thought it interesting. It is an affidavit of Tim Blixseth, someone who did business with Montgomery. Blixseth said:
After reviewing … recent testimony … of Dennis Montgomery … and recently discovered emails … I am certain that Montgomery … engaged in an extensive scheme to defraud the U. S. Government, other Governments, and banks, and private lenders ….
On May 15, Defendants filed a special motion to dismiss under Anti-SLAPP statutes and for a stay of discovery. I found the argument that the Washington State Anti-SLAPP law should prevail in a Florida lawsuit informative; however, the special motion was later withdrawn after the Washington State Anti-SLAPP was ruled unconstitutional under the Washington State Constitution by the Washington State Supreme Court.