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. Inmates accused of terrorism in the secret prison were tortured.
Many members of the Senate Intelligence Committee were unmoved by her explanation, asking her to define her moral code, her opinions on the effectiveness of torture techniques 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 officers 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 his 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 New York Times op-ed on her experience, “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 because of that could barely move.
Boudchar has no idea how long she was in the prison, because she was not allowed to sleep. “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 is using her platform to demand that senators ask about Haspel’s history of running a black site. Prior to Wednesday’s hearing, Boudchar hoped that “she 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 horror of her experiences, 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.”