CIA Did Provide Bay of Pigs Files to Nixon, Archives Says

01.07.09 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Updated below.

The Central Intelligence Agency did provide a copy of intelligence files relating to the Bay of Pigs to President Nixon in response to his request, an official of the National Archives and Records Administration said yesterday.  He said that the statement to the contrary in Secrecy News on January 5, citing the new book “Family of Secrets,” was in error.

“The CIA did not refuse the Nixon administration’s request for records on the Bay of Pigs and other topics,” John Powers of the National Archives said.  What happened, rather, is that “[Director of Central Intelligence Richard M.] Helms insisted that if the President wanted these records, he would only give them to the President himself.”

“There is a fascinating Oval Office taped conversation of this meeting in October 1971 that is publicly available.  You can hear Helms putting the papers down on Nixon’s desk,” Mr. Powers said.

He identified the conversation as tape number 587-7 dated October 8, 1971.  “Helms enters during [Ehrlichman’s] briefing and they quickly change the topic, then get down to the issue of the papers.”

Mr. Powers added that the CIA papers provided by Mr. Helms to President Nixon are contained in Boxes 36 and 37 of the John D. Ehrlichman files at the Nixon Presidential Library.

Mr. Powers said that some of the material may have been declassified and released since he departed from the Nixon Project nearly two years ago.  “But my recollection is that most of the two [Ehrlichman] boxes were still classified. They are awaiting a researcher to file a Mandatory Declassification Review request.”

Update: Audio tape 587-7 from October 8, 1971 can be downloaded here, courtesy of Prof. Luke A. Nichter of Tarleton State University-Central Texas and Nixontapes.org. An outline of the taped conversation is posted here (pdf).