In a ruling that could dramatically change the understanding of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) law and historical documents and give the government and easy out for future rejections, Judge Gladys Kessler agreed that the CIA can keep the fifth volume of its history, “Internal Investigations of the Bay of Pigs Operation” secret essentially forever.
Kessler agreed with the CIA’s argument that the volume was “never finished” and only exists as a draft, and that draft documents are exempt from FOIA disclosure. She also agreed with the claim that making the volume public would have a “chilling effect” on current historians, who would fear their work might conceivably be read at some future date by someone.
The volume was written in 1981 and according to the CIA included condemnations of a number of CIA officials. The National Security Archive, a group which has been pushing for the declassification of historical government documents, had sued the CIA to demand the release of the documents.
The group slammed the ruling, saying that it was a “regrettable blow to the right-to-know” and noted that the CIA had no problem with releasing the draft of the fourth volume, which blasted President Kennedy for setting restrictions on the operation. The lawsuit led to the releases of Volumes I, II and IV. The third volume was already released in 1998 by an act of Congress.
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