U.S. Court of Appeals Rejects CIA’s Motion to Squash Lawsuit on Bay of Pigs History

  • U.S. Court of Appeals Rejects CIA’s Motion to Squash Lawsuit on Bay of Pigs History
  • National Security Archive Freedom of Information Case to Receive Full Hearing CIA and Justice Department Argued That Release of Draft History Would “Confuse the Public”

Published on National Security Archive, by Tom Blanton and Nate Jones, December 7, 2012.   

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit yesterday rejected the CIA’s attempt to shortcut the National Security Archive’s lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the last still-secret history of the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

With the ruling, the Archive has moved a step closer to compelling openness for the only remaining unreleased volume of a draft history of the Bay of Pigs operation, written by a CIA staff historian in the 1980s. One volume of the five-volume history reached the public through the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board’s action in the 1990s; and the Archive filed its FOIA lawsuit for the remaining volumes in April 2011, on the 50 th anniversary of the failed CIA-sponsored invasion of Cuba.

The CIA released three volumes as a result of the FOIA lawsuit, but withheld the final volume by invoking a statutory exemption to the FOIA that protects “predecisional” and “deliberative” agency documents. Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court sided with the CIA, explaining that the Agency could withhold this “predecisional” draft because it “does not want to discourage disagreement… among its historians.”

The Archive appealed to the D.C. Circuit, and the CIA then filed a motion for summary affirmance – in effect asking the court to decide in its favor without full briefing or oral argument. In opposing the CIA’s motion, the Archive received strong support from more than a dozen organizations representing tens of thousands of historians, archivists, political scientists, educators and researchers around the world, who warned that the CIA’s position could create a “chilling effect on access to historical materials.”

On Thursday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the CIA’s motion, agreeing with the Archive and its supporters that the case merits the court’s full consideration, and set a briefing schedule through March 2013 for the lawsuit to continue … //

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