More than year after the National Security Archive sued the CIA to declassify the full “Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation,” a U.S. District Court judge today sided with the Agency’s efforts to keep the last volume of the report secret in perpetuity. In her ruling, Judge Gladys Kessler accepted the CIA’s legal arguments that, because Volume V was a “draft” and never officially approved for inclusion in the Agency’s official history, it was exempt from declassification under the “deliberative process privilege” despite having been written over 30 years ago.
The National Security Archive called the decision “a regrettable blow to the right-to-know” and vowed to press the Obama administration to force the CIA to adhere to the President’s Executive Order 13526 that “no information shall remain classified indefinitely.”
The volume, titled “CIA’s Internal Investigations of the Bay of Pigs Operations,” was written by CIA historian Jack Pfeiffer in 1981. It forcefully critiqued the scathing investigative report written in the immediate aftermath of the paramilitary attack – by the CIA’s own Inspector General, Lyman Kirkpatrick – which held CIA planners fully responsible for the worst debacle in the Agency’s covert history. In court papers, CIA officials described Pfeiffer’s critique as “a polemic of recriminations against CIA officers who later criticized the operation.”