A federal appeals court has ruled that the Central Intelligence Agency can keep secret the history of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba.
The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled, 2-1, that the CIA can withhold the “draft” volume about the 1961 operation against Cuba under a Freedom of Information Act exemption that protects government agencies’ memorandums or letters from being subject to release.
“The CIA here invokes the deliberative process privilege,” Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote in his opinion.
“A form of executive privilege, the deliberative process privilege covers deliberative, pre-decisional communications within the Executive Branch. One of the rationales for the privilege is to encourage the candid and frank exchange of ideas in the agency’s decision-making process.”
The FOIA lawsuit was filed in 2005 by the National Security Archive– a non-governmental institute that collects government records on foreign policy and security issues– requesting the history known as “Volume V” be released.
National Security Archive Executive Director Tom Blanton said the ruling would allow the deliberative process exemption to undermine most of the benefit of the Freedom of Information Act.
“This decision would put off limits half of the contents of the National Archives. This decision gives total discretion to every bureaucrat to withhold anything they want,” Blanton complained in an interview with POLITICO.
The “Volume V” history details CIA involvement in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, a regime change attempt in Cuba carried out by paramilitary fighters funded and trained by the CIA.