(CN) – A former member of the House committee charged with overseeing National Security Agency operations claims the FBI raided her property after falsely suspecting her of leaking classified information about the government’s warrantless wiretap program to the media.
Diane Roark, who worked on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence for five years, claims the July 26, 2007 raid was in retaliation “for her whistleblower activities and execution of her Congressional oversight responsibilities that revealed inefficiency, contract fraud, the persistent waste of billions of dollars on a single ill-conceived program that was never built, plus illegal and unconstitutional operations.
In her lawsuit against the United States in Oregon Federal Court, Roark claims she voluntarily met with the U.S. attorney and FBI investigators in February 2007, about five years after she retired from the committee in 2002.
She says they suspected her of leaking classified information about the wiretap program to the New York Times and to Times reporter James Risen, “and/or to the Baltimore Sun.”
The Times published a series of articles on the surveillance program in December 2005. Risen’s book, “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration,” was published in early 2006.
Roark says she answered all their questions, except when asked to reveal her sources or divulge details about her conversation with a congressman, and provided an affidavit swearing that she was not the source of the published exposes.
Several months later, the FBI raided her property, “seizing many boxes of papers, rolodexes and electronic equipment,” the lawsuit states.
“Simultaneous raids took place in Maryland at the homes of two associates, J.K. Wiebe and William Binney,” Roark claims. “At the same time, another associate, Edward Loomis, was removed from his place of employment and ‘persuaded’ to allow a search of his home without a warrant. A fourth associate, Thomas Drake, was raided on November 28, 2007. Loomis and Drake lost high-paying jobs.”
Before the raids, Roark says government agents “conducted a surreptitious search of Roark’s property, thereby acquiring information about her associations and activities.”
“Data from that search apparently was used to secure warrants for the subsequent search and seizures at Plaintiffs property and the properties of Wiebe, Binney and Drake, and to justify the warrantless search and seizure of Loomis’ property,” she claims. “Affadavits for the warrants remain sealed.”
Roark and her associates lost their security clearances, according to the lawsuit. Drake, a former senior NSA official, was indicted in 2010, but all 10 felony charges were dropped four days before his trial last June.
Roark claims prosecutors offered her a plea bargain after they “deliberately lied” and accused her of committing felony perjury in her 2007 interview. She says she rejected the plea deal and exposed the lie, and “has heard nothing about her case since then, despite a number of requests in 2012 for written notification of her status.”
She says three of her associates were offered immunity.
The government allegedly kept the items seized in the raids, despite a dozen requests for their return. Roark says some of the belongings were returned after the five associates sued in Maryland last November, but the government still has computers, electronic storage devices and some of Roark’s papers.
According to the lawsuit, the United States argues that it’s entitled to keep any hard drive or storage device that contains even one document with classified information, or with unclassified information that has not been officially released. It also considers the seized property “contraband” belonging to the government, which the plaintiffs had no right to possess.
Roark seeks the return of her remaining property and a court declaration that the government violated her First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights.
“Plaintiff seeks to prevent government agencies from repeating these assaults against other citizens based on whim and retribution even after the government lacks facts to support a prosecution, and to provide a legal precedent and recourse for victims of any such unconscionable acts,” the lawsuit states.
“Further, since the government sought in this case to quash the exposure of waste, fraud, abuse and illegality in national security programs, the inherent secretiveness of which helps hide problems from citizen review, plaintiff prays that the court will uphold the right of employees and citizens to responsible whistle blowing when other alternatives are unavailable or ineffective.”
Roark is representing herself in Federal Court in Eugene, Ore., after she was removed from the Maryland case for improper venue.