After a successful Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, new details have emerged about the legal case of Leslie G. Kinney v. Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA has recently released several documents related to this case, revealing some insights into the proceedings and the agency’s response.
The released documents include one that could be fully disclosed, while seven others were partially redacted based on various FOIA exemptions. These exemptions, specifically (b)(3), (b)(5), and (b)(6), pertain to information exempt from disclosure by statute, notably under the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 and the National Security Act of 1947.
The case initially stemmed from Kinney’s request for information on James Harold Nichols, a former Office of Strategic Services (OSS) employee during World War II. Nichols’s personnel file was not among the 23,000 OSS personnel records released by the National Archives and Record Administration, leading Kinney to believe that many employment and personnel records of former OSS employees were still held by the CIA. The CIA, in response to Kinney’s request, declared, “We maintain a copy of the roster of OSS personnel. We checked the listing for Mr. Nichols’ name, and it did not appear on the roster”.
The CIA adopted a “neither confirm nor deny” stance regarding the existence or nonexistence of certain requested records. This approach, referred to as the Glomar response, is commonly used in cases where acknowledging the existence of records might reveal classified information. “The Agency refuses to confirm or deny maintaining records that would show a classified association with the CIA,” as per the documents.
This release of documents, while offering some transparency, underscores the complexities involved in accessing historical records tied to intelligence and national security.