DEA agent sues officials of CIA, State Department

October 27, 1994|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- The former top U.S. drug-enforcement official in Myanmar has sued former top State Department and Central Intelligence Agency officials based in the Asian nation, saying that they tapped his telephone, subverted his anti-drug efforts, and expelled him from the country.

The unusual lawsuit by Richard A. Horn, a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent, is the latest of a series of embarrassing clashes between U.S. drug-enforcement officials and their counterparts in the intelligence and diplomatic services.

Mr. Horn's suit said that his effort to work with the government of Myanmar against the heroin trade came into conflict with U.S. policy aimed at discrediting the nation. The generals who run Myanmar, the nation formerly known as Burma, have killed or imprisoned thousands of dissidents.

They have kept the opposition leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, under house arrest for six years. She led the party that won more than 80 percent of the vote in 1990.

The junta has said that if the United States lifts an arms embargo against them, they will hunt down Khun Sa, the opium warlord responsible for much of the heroin sold on American streets.

Khun Sa, under indictment on drug charges in the United States, controls vast swaths of land inside Myanmar and recently declared himself president of a newly independent state.

The Clinton administration has refused to lift the arms embargo against the generals. The State Department has accused the junta of "only minimal narcotics law enforcement." U.S. government figures show that Myanmar has consistently produced half the heroin on the world market.

Opium production in Myanmar ranged upward of 5 million pounds a year from 1989 to 1993 and fell to about 4.4 million pounds this year.

The suit said Mr. Horn's reports showed that the junta was making substantial progress against the heroin trade, which subverted "the dishonest State Department and CIA agenda." In 1992 and 1993, Franklin Huddle Jr., the State Department's chief of mission in Myanmar, along with the CIA's chief of station, had a "political and personal agenda to thwart" anti-drug missions and "to deny Burma any credit for its drug enforcement efforts," the suit said.

The CIA station chief tapped Mr. Horn's home telephone and gave a transcript of his conversations to Mr. Huddle, in order to gain ammunition for expelling Mr. Horn from Myanmar, the suit said.

Mr. Horn was the third consecutive American drug-enforcement attache to be expelled from the country at the State Department's request, the suit said.

The station chief "surreptitiously obtained and delivered a sensitive DEA document, which he well knew was signed by a DEA informant, to an official of the government" in Myanmar, the suit said. This was the equivalent of a death warrant for the informant, the suit said.

Drug-enforcement agents and CIA officers have clashed in Venezuela, Colombia, Haiti, and other countries where military and government officials have been accused of complicity in the drug trade.

In Venezuela, arguments between the agencies, combined with serious errors by a CIA official, led last year to the uncontrolled shipment of a ton of cocaine into the United States. The cocaine, which was supposed to be used as evidence against traffickers, wound up on the street.

CIA and State Department officials had no comment on the suit, which was filed under seal here in federal district court.

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