CIA Torture Survivor Demands Answers From Gina Haspel
Gina Haspel, Donald Trump’s nominee for CIA director, told senators at her confirmation hearing Wednesday that she was “just following orders” while running a black site in Thailand during the George W. Bush administration, a site where terrorism suspects were tortured.
Many members of the Senate Intelligence Committee were unmoved by her explanation, asking her about her moral code and opinions on the effectiveness of torture and whether she would refuse an order from the president to waterboard a suspect. But as Adam Raymond wrote in New York Magazine, Haspel “didn’t bite,” giving vague and cagey responses.
Perhaps those who experienced “enhanced interrogation techniques,” such as Fatima Boudchar, would have gotten better answers.
Boudchar was beaten by CIA agents at a Thai prison in 2004, one that sounds similar to the black site Haspel ran.
Boudchar and her husband, a leader of a group opposing Moammar Gadhafi, were fleeing the dictator’s regime in Libya and were on their way to Europe when she was seized in Malaysia by men who turned out to be with the CIA.
As Boudchar writes in a May 8 op-ed article in the New York Times, “I know what I’d ask her if I got the chance. … Did you know about my abduction and abuse? Were you involved with it? What will you say if President Trump asks you to do something like that again?
“I didn’t understand why I was taken,” she says. “I hardly thought about the United States until I was chained to the wall in the CIA black site.” She was pregnant at the time of the kidnapping and later gave birth to a baby who weighed four pounds.
Boudchar, who was not allowed to sleep, says she has no idea how long she was in the prison. “Some of what they did to me in that prison was so awful I can’t talk about it. They hit me in the abdomen just where the baby was. To move me, they bound me to a stretcher from head to toe, like a mummy. I was sure I would shortly be killed.”
Boudchar, writing before Wednesday’s confirmation hearing, expresses hope that Haspel “will be questioned about my case and whether she condones it. If she played a part, she should apologize. If she didn’t, she should swear under oath that the CIA under her command will never again carry out abductions like mine.”
Boudchar points out that if Haspel’s supporters want to claim that she’s respected by U.S. allies around the world, that should include the Muslim world. “If it wants to regain lost trust, the CIA can’t ignore history in the hope that it will go away,” she writes.
Despite the horrors she suffered, Boudchar writes, “I don’t think badly of Americans.” She does, however, “think Americans deserve honesty from their intelligence officers. I don’t believe most ordinary people would have supported what the CIA did to me if they’d known.”