In face of a persistent legal challenge from the National Security Archive, the CIA continues to resist releasing an internal history of the failed invasion at the Bay of Pigs more than a half century ago. The struggle for Volume 5, as the history is known, is an epic legal contest
Why the secrecy about something that happened so long ago?
That question was the subject of a recent historian’s roundtable: National Security Archive v. Central Intelligence Agency.
Kenneth McDonald, one of the historians who participated, has actually read the forbidden document. He said the research in Volume 5 is “impressive.”
” I nevertheless found that the work had serious deficiencies as a historical study,” McDonald went on. “I was especially troubled by three particular weaknesses. First, the work was an apologia, an uncritical defense of the officers and operatives most closely involved with the operation. Second, without adequate argument or evidence it put responsibility for the operation’s failure on officers elsewhere in CIA and on US government officials up to the highest levels. Third, the work’s polemical response to earlier critics of the operation (especially those within the CIA) strongly suggested that [author Jack] Pfeiffer undertook his history principally as a rebuttal to such earlier critiques as the June 1961 findings of General Maxwell Taylor’s presidential commission and the October 1961 report of CIA Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick, both of which assessed the operation’s many faults in planning and execution.”
The CIA is keeping secret its harsh internal reaction to JFK’s handling of the Bay of Pigs.