Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room
Welcome to the Central Intelligence Agency's Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room.
Do UFOs fascinate you? Are you a history buff who wants to learn more about the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam or the A-12 Oxcart? Have stories about spies always fascinated you? You can find information about all of these topics and more in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Electronic Reading Room.
What's New on the Electronic Reading Room?
The declassified President’s Daily Briefs (PDBs) from the Nixon and Ford presidential administrations in this collection include about 2,500 documents and 28,000 pages. As part of this release, CIA held a symposium, "The President's Daily Brief: Delivering Intelligence to Nixon and Ford, " at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, CA on 24 August 2016. The PDBs contain the highest level of intelligence on the president’s key national security issues and concerns. These documents were the primary vehicle for summarizing the day-to-day sensitive intelligence and analysis, as well as late-breaking reports, for the White House. As part of this declassification effort, the President’s Intelligence Checklists (or PICLs, pronounced “pickles”) and PDBs delivered to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson – some 2,500 documents and 19,000 pages – were released for the first time on 16 September 2015. The two collections show that the product was tailored – both in content and format – to the requirements of each president. President Richard Nixon, as a once practicing attorney, preferred to review the PDBs on longer legal size paper, and this format was carried into the Ford administration. Both collections were assembled as part of the CIA’s Historical Review Program, which identifies, reviews, and declassifies documents on historically significant events or topics.
Between 1979 and 1984, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) staff historian Jack Pfeiffer prepared five volumes of the Agency’s Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation. One volume was a draft fifth volume, CIA’s Internal Investigation of the Bay of Pigs, being released today, which the CIA Chief Historian rejected as inadequate at the time, instructing Pfeiffer to make substantial revisions. Pfeiffer did not complete those revisions before retiring in 1984.
Unlike his four other histories, this fifth draft volume was not publishable in its present form, in the judgment of CIA Chief Historians as well as other reviewers, because of serious shortcomings in scholarship, its political tone, and its failure to add significantly to an understanding of the controversy over the Bay of Pigs operation—much of which has now been discussed in open source histories and memoirs. CIA’s Chief Historians have assessed that addressing those deficiencies would have required much more effort than the draft volume’s potential value would justify. Consequently, it remains an unfinished and unpublished draft.