The New York Times seems destined to sink Gina Haspel’s chances of becoming CIA director — even if it means running op-eds by the wife of a radical Islamist.
The Gray Lady decided to give one of her pages on Wednesday to Fatima Boudchar, who was jailed by the CIA in 2004. To hear Boudchar tell it, you’d think the U.S. government abducted and tortured a poor pregnant woman in a Bangkok secret prison simply because of her tangential relationship with an anti-Qaddafi freedom fighter.
In reality, Boudchar’s professed ignorance of being a simple woman “from a small town in Morocco” who “hardly thought about the United States” stands in opposition to her marriage to Abdelhakim Belhaj, an Islamist military leader who once fought for the Taliban and has alleged ties with al-Qaeda leaders.
Of course, Belhaj’s name is nowhere to be found in Boudchar’s column — surprisingly (or not, depending on your level of cynicism) The New York Times’ editors didn’t find it necessary to include this fact either.
Boudchar said she underwent brutal torture in the hands of the CIA, such as being assaulted in the stomach despite being halfway through a pregnancy. Her stay with the CIA was brief, however, and she seemed to undergo the most brutality in the hands of the Libyan government.
Despite her moving words, believing Boudchar’s account proves difficult due to her professed ignorance that the U.S. government might have been pursuing her, despite the fact that the Libyan government had an arrest warrant out for her husband in 2002 because he had been accused of running and financing mujahideen fighter camps. Stunningly, the thought that her husband might be up to no good never occurred to her during the years when he traveled across Sudan, Pakistan, Syria and Iran.
None of this stops her from condemning the U.S. government or from implying that Haspel oversaw similar alleged torture in the prisons she ran. Boudchar said she suffered an “injustice,” but never presented evidence that she was wrongly imprisoned.
Like many leftist calls for U.S. apologies, Boudchar said the CIA must come clean of its past sins, and if “America wants to persuade the Muslim world it means us no harm.”
Except it seems clear that Boudchar’s husband meant the West great harm. At the judgment of American, British and Libyan intelligence, she seemed worthy of questioning.
At best, Boudchar turned a blind eye to the evil ideology her husband was promoting and at worst was a willing co-conspirator.
Neither America nor its defense employees owe Boudchar an apology. If she did indeed face abuse in the hands of American interrogators, that is regrettable.
For all the real victims of America’s missteps in the Middle East over the past two decades, one would imagine The New York Times could find a more sympathetic voice. Instead, readers learned once again that the complaints against Haspel’s appointment mostly ring hollow.
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