WASHINGTON — A federal judge has ruled that a final volume of the CIA's three-decade-old history on the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba can remain shrouded in secrecy because it is a draft, not a finished product.
The CIA characterized the volume in court papers as "a polemic of recriminations against CIA officers who later criticized the operation."
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler accepted the CIA's arguments that the fifth volume entitled the "CIA's Internal Investigations of the Bay of Pigs Operations" did not even pass through the first stage of a multilayer review process. The volume represented a proposal by a subordinate member of the history staff that was rejected by the chief historian as containing significant deficiencies, the CIA argued.
The CIA said the volume is protected from disclosure under the deliberative process privilege, an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act.
The National Security Archive, a private group seeking transparency in government, sued the CIA to declassify the volume.
The CIA had no problem declassifying an earlier volume of the history in which the author attacked President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy, said Peter Kornbluh, who directs the National Security Archive's Cuba documentation project.
"Apparently, the CIA sees no problem in the American public reading a 'polemic of recriminations' against the White House," Kornbluh said.
In her decision Thursday, the judge said a draft history would risk public release of inaccurate historical information.
Kessler also cited the arguments of the CIA chief historian that disclosure would have a chilling effect on the CIA's current historians. They would henceforth be inhibited from trying out innovative, unorthodox or unpopular interpretations in a draft manuscript, the agency said.