Vietnam War-Era CIA Records Remain Confidential

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A federal appeals court has ruled that the CIA could keep confidential two briefing reports it provided President Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War.

University of California, Davis political scientist Larry Berman had sued the agency after it turned down his Freedom of Information Act request for the President’s Daily Briefs, which the CIA still issues to the president and his senior staff.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in its decision released yesterday, said the CIA could keep the 40-year-old briefings under wraps to protect the agency’s sources and intelligence-gathering methods. The court also said that releasing even decades-old records could chill future sources from working with the CIA.

“Such potential sources may be frightened off if they believe promises of confidentiality are subject to an implicit time-based sunset clause at the discretion of the judiciary,” Judge Raymond Fisher wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel.

Berman was traveling in Vietnam and could not be reached for comment.

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