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Federal judge grants lawyers security clearance in ex-DEA agent civil suit

[JURIST] A judge in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Wednesday ordered [opinion, PDF] the government to grant security clearance to lawyers on both sides of the civil suit brought by former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) [official website] agent Richard Horn. In ruling on the government's attempt to exert privilege, Judge Royce Lamberth questioned the logic of denying a client's attorney access to the same information the client possesses. Lamberth also chastised the government for its attempts to do so, writing, "[t]he deference generally granted the Executive Branch in matters of classification and national security must yield when the Executive attempts to exert control over the courtroom." The government has 10 days to comply with Lamberth's order, though the Justice Department is reviewing the order [McClatchy report] and has not commented.

Horn, a former agent in Burma, is suing [summons and complaint] Franklin Huddle, the Chief of the Mission of the American Embassy in Burma, and Arthur Brown, a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] agent stationed there, for violation of his civil rights and anti-wiretapping laws [text] during 1992 and 1993. Huddle and Brown are alleged to have intercepted communications intended for Horn and to have conspired to have him removed from his position. Wednesday's ruling is the second action in the 15-year old case in the past month. In late July, Lamberth ordered that documents relating to the case be unsealed [JURIST report], and charged that the CIA committed fraud in keeping the documents secret.

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