U.S. agrees to settle lawsuit in which CIA officials are accused of misconduct, fraud

Ending litigation, filed by former DEA agent Richard Horn, will cost taxpayers a pretty penny

Former DEA agent Richard Horn, and his attorney, former federal prosecutor Brian Leighton, have struck a deal to end a long-running legal case in which Horn accused former CIA and State Department officials of spying on him and sabotaging his anti-narcotics mission in Burma — now known as Myanmar.

The litigation was shrouded under the cloak of national security for years, until this past summer, when the judge in the case ordered the court record unsealed and challenged the government’s state-secrets claims in the wake of discovering that CIA officials seemingly had misled the court.

The proposed settlement filed with the court Nov. 3 is still subject to the approval of federal Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington, D.C., where the case has been on the U.S. District Court docket now for some 15 years.

The agreement calls for Horn to receive a lump sum payment of $3 million from Uncle Sam (the taxpayers) in exchange for settling the case against the defendants — former CIA Station Chief Arthur Brown, former State Department Chief of Mission Franklin Huddle Jr. and the U.S. government as intervenor.

In addition, Horn has agreed to not oppose the government's efforts to convince the judge to vacate several pending court orders in the case that could lead to a potentially unpleasant outcome for some current and former CIA officials.

Those judicial ruling order the government to:

• Provide security clearances to attorneys in the case;

• Set up procedures that allow the court to determine the scope, or limits, of the government's claim of state-secrets privilege with respect to evidence;

• And invited Horn to "seek sanctions for alleged misconduct" against CIA officials — who asserted a state-secrets claim to allegedly protect defendant Brown's covert cover and then failed, for some six years, to inform the court that his covert status had been lifted. [And, in fact, a motion seeking those sanctions was filed by Horn’s attorney and is currently pending in the litigation.]

The settlement, which otherwise remains confidential, also will not be "construed as an admission by the Defendants nor the United States ... of any allegation or the validity of any claim asserted" in Horn's lawsuit, according to pleadings filed in court on Nov. 3.

It is likely Judge Lamberth will play ball in this case. However, given the government’s past “fraud” on the court in the Horn litigation, there is a slim possibility that the judge might see justice better served by allowing some of the outstanding motions to carry on — particularly with respect to the potential sanctions “for alleged misconduct.”

And the proposed settlement does seem to keep that door open while allowing Horn to collect his measure of justice as well:

If, however, the Court refuses to vacate any or all of these Orders and Opinions, but enters an order dismissing this civil action … this agreement is binding upon all parties, and the United States is obligated to make the cash payments [to Horn] following the entry of the order dismissing the case with prejudice.

Stay tuned ....

Richard Horn Litigation Settlement Pleadings

• Settlement Agreement

• Motion to Vacate State-Secrets-related Orders

• Motion to Vacate Sanctions Orders

Prior stories on Horn’s case

• U.S. government's effort to derail former DEA agent's lawsuit marked by deceit

CIA, State Department accused of sanitizing report into alleged misconduct

Former DEA agent's lawsuit exposes CIA "fraud"

State secrets claim takes a blow in Horn case

DEA Agent’s Whistleblower Case Exposes the “War on Drugs” as a “War of Pretense”


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