WASHINGTON (CN) – A former deputy chief in the CIA’s Special Activities Division demands $3 million from the agency, claiming that after he suffered lead poisoning from instructing weapons classes at a contaminated site somewhere overseas.
In his federal claim, Franklin Richards said he worked for the CIA from 1990 until his forced retirement for medical reasons in 2006. “Richards was the Deputy Chief of [REDACTED BY CIA] for the Special Activities Division,” the complaint states.
The 27-page complaint, which is full of such redactions, says he was injured by following orders “to facilitate the weapons training of certain individuals (both CIA employees and non-CIA civilians) in a foreign country,” whose name he withheld at the CIA’s request. “This was required because the ‘team’ that required training was inserted into this country without the proper training, thus requiring the immediate need for such training ‘on-site’. The CIA had very strict guidelines in place requiring all officers going ‘in country’ to be certified [REDACTED BY CIA] – without exception.”
He claims the CIA’s station chief in the unidentified foreign country ordered him to conduct the training in a “filthy” and unsafe place contaminated with toxic dust from “millions of rounds of ammunition.” Richards claims the firing range was so toxic the other instructor refused to work there. He claims he was diagnosed with lead poisoning by a U.S. Special Forces squad at the site, who said that the U.S. Army had declared the firing range “off limits to U.S. Army personnel because of the toxic lead levels.” Nonetheless, Richards says, the CIA Chief of Station ordered him back, saying “‘We are the CIA’ and ‘We’ need to get these individuals trained.”
When he returned, he says, a CIA doctor (name redacted by the CIA) told him he did not have lead poisoning, without doing any blood tests or neurological tests. He says that one week after being blown off by the CIA doctor, he got the results of a blood test from his own physician, who informed him “that the lead levels in his blood were dangerously high, and that, if not properly treated with chelation therapy, the lead poisoning could lead to permanent neurological damage, kidney failure, liver failure, and death.”
He says that after reporting this to the CIA and its doctor, the Agency continued to blow him off and minimize his complaints. His complaint lists a long series of medical problems he attributed to the lead poisoning. After he took medical leave, he claims,
CIA officers illegally discussed his medical condition, and told other CIA employees that he was on leave because his “shit don’t work anymore” and “his dick is broke.”
He demands damages for privacy violations and constitutional violations. He is represented by Daniel Ward.