Map of Cuba, showing the Bay of Pigs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)United States District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Gladys Kessler last week ruled against a research institute's Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA")[5 U.S.C. sec. 552] request to gain access to Volume 5 of the CIA's exhaustive history of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961.
The National Security Archive, a 27-year-old nongovernmental research institute and library, filed a 6-page Complaint for Injunctive Relief, National Security Archive v. Central Intelligence Agency (Case No. 1:06-cv-01080-GK) to get a peak at Vol. 5, the CIA's Internal Investigation Report, a purported rebuttal by CIA chief historian Jack Pfeiffer against a critical report by the CIA's inspector general that blamed the agency for the unsuccessful April 1961 Bay of Pigs operations.
The CIA successfully withheld the requested data pursuant to Exemption 5 of the FOIA, which is invoked to exclude "A privileged inter-agency or intra-agency memorandum or letter." More specifically, the so-called deliberative process privilege is intended to "prevent injury to the quality of agency decisions," by encouraging candid discussions of policy matters between superiors and subordinates and protecting against premature disclosure of proposed, but not yet adopted, policies.
Judge Kessler agreed with lawyers for the CIA who argued the release of Vol. 5 to the NSA could yield inaccurate historical information that could lead to self-censorship by CIA historians. Judge Kessler concurred that the material sought was a draft, not a completed work, from a subordinate that Pfeiffer allegedly rejected.