All posts by Douglas Cox

Douglas Cox is an Associate Law Library Professor at the City University of New York School of Law. He previously practiced law in London and New York focusing on cross-border legal issues and litigation. He has represented individuals detained in Guantanamo and also previously worked in military intelligence in the U.S. Army.

Burn After Viewing: The CIA’s Destruction of the Abu Zubaydah Tapes and the Law of Federal Records

On December 6, 2007, the Central Intelligence Agency publiclydisclosed that in 2005 it had destroyed videotapes of CIA interrogations of alleged terrorist Abu Zubaydah conducted in 2002 and asserted that the destruction was “in line with the law.” The disclosure resulted in calls for congressional investigations; a motion for contempt in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); emergency motions in Guantánamo detainee cases; questions about the case of Zacharias Moussaoui; and an angry op-ed from the chairmen of the 9/11 Commission. The crux of these public reactions – as with the criminal investigation that resulted – was primarily the narrow issue whether the destruction of the tapes was illegal because they were relevant to pending or foreseeable cases or investigations.