Horn v. Huddle, et.al: Under State Secrets No More

Horn v. Huddle, a 15-year old case that has been buried under state secrets grounds has resurfaced. On July 20, Chief Judge Royce Lambert unseals this case. The Court has also recently ordered the government to file with the Court unclassified versions of every document in the case and has denied the government’s assertion of state secrets privilege and proposed protective order.

The plaintiff of this case is Richard Horn, a former employee of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) who brings this suit for actions that occurred while he was stationed in Rangoon, Burma as DEA country attaché. Defendants are Franklin Huddle, Jr. (“Defendant I”), a State Department employee and Chief of Mission of the Embassy in Rangoon, Burma and Arthur Brown (“Defendant II”), a CIA employee in Rangoon, Burma.

Plaintiff claims violation of his Fourth Amendment rights under the Constitution. He alleges that “on or about August 12, 1993, Defendant II or someone acting on his behalf “tapped” his late night telephone call, recorded it and disclosed the contents to Defendant I.” […] Plaintiff further argues that “the purpose of the phone tap was to assist Defendant I in obtaining information that would justify Defendant I demanding plaintiff’s removal from Burma or otherwise justify expelling him directly.”

The Plaintiff alleges that “Defendant I sought Plaintiff’s removal from Burma as retaliation for Plaintiff sending reports to congressman that conflicted with State Department reports prepared by Defendant I. Plaintiff supports his accusation of wire tapping with the contents of a cable sent by Defendant I on or about August 13, 1993 to his superiors in the State Department that contained allegedly verbatim quotations from the August 12 phone conversation.”

See the 2004 filing here archived in Secrecy News. The PDF file with the Court originally dismissing this case on state secrets grounds is here. Other background materials from Richard Horn’s representative are here.

Franklin Huddle, Jr.
was Chargé d’Affaires ad interim to Burma from 1990–1994. He later became United States Ambassador to Tajikistan from 2001-2003.

There must be a lesson here for interagency cooperation , if this ever gets to a trial stage. The problem is the Judge ain’t happy. Originally the Court believed that nothing about Mr. Brown, including his name, was admissible at trial, and the case was dismissed. But apparently, Mr. Brown’s identity was not in fact covert as of 2002. In its Memorandum Opinion dated January 15, 2009, the Court states that “Defendant Brown and the Office of General Counsel of the CIA perpetrated fraud on this court and the Court of Appeals.” This case has been on since 1994, so through three administrations now. I wonder who’s going to get thrown under the bus when this is over?

Related Items:

From the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy:

Richard Horn v. Franklin Huddle Jr, et al, alleging unlawful wiretapping:

See below an expanded list of the documents related to this case posted in Scribd. Note that a Pacer Login is required to access links from list below; click on toggle icon (rightmost black/white rectangle image) to read the document in full screen:

SFRC Hearings: Ten Ambassador-Nominees Before the Senate Today


Date: Tuesday, July 21, 2009
: 10:15 A.M.
Place: 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Presiding: Senator Feingold


Panel 1:

  • The Honorable Charles Aaron Ray, of Maryland
    to be Ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe

  • The Honorable Gayleatha Beatrice Brown,of New Jersey
    to be Ambassador to Burkina Faso

  • Donald Henry Gips, of Colorado
    to be Ambassador to South Africa

  • James Knight, of Alabama
    to be Ambassador to the Republic of Benin

  • Earl Michael Irving, of California
    to be Ambassador to the Kingdom of Swaziland

Panel 2:

  • Jerry P. Lanier, of North Carolina
    to be Ambassador to the Republic of Uganda

  • Michael Anthony Battle Sr., of Georgia
    to be Representative of the United States
    to the African Union, with the rank and
    status of Ambassador

  • Alfonso E. Lenhardt, of New York
    to be Ambassador to Tanzania

  • The Honorable Pamela J. Slutz
    to be Ambassador to Burundi

  • Patricia Newton Moller, of Arkansas
    to be Ambassador to the Republic of Guinea

To view the video of the confirmation hearings, click on the heading “NOMINATIONS” on this page and the Committee Channel should pop up. Click on the names of nominees to open up the pdf files of their testimonies/opening statements. You can also check my new Ambassadors Hearing Page for quick links to videos and confirmation statements.