Never Again? DeSantis and Torture
Monday June 5, 2023
During a press conference at the Museum of Tolerance in West Jerusalem in April, Ron DeSantis was questioned about a former detainee’s claim that as a naval attorney at Guantanamo DeSantis watched as the prisoner was force fed, something the UN regards as torture. “Do you honestly believe that’s credible? It’s 2006, I’m a junior officer, do you honestly think that they would’ve remembered me?” DeSantis responded angrily.
Mansoor Adayfi, a Yemeni citizen, was held at Guantanamo Bay for 14 years, and has told news outlets that DeSantis witnessed him being force fed during a hunger strike in 2006. Adayfi in an op-ed for Al Jazeera said “As I tried to break free, I noticed DeSantis’ handsome face among the crowd at the other side of the chain link. He was watching me struggle. He was smiling and laughing with other officers as I screamed in pain.” Two former detainees, as well as defense lawyers and base officials, have told The Washington Post DeSantis had a “close up views” of disturbing incidents at the camp during his time there.
What might DeSantis have seen? In addition to Adayfi’s account, we have Imad Abdullah Hassan’s more detailed rendition, from a man who spent twelve years in Guantanamo in a cage without ever being charged with anything. A judge cleared Hassan for release, finding there was not enough incriminating evidence to justify keeping him imprisoned (779 men were held at Guantanamo since it opened in 2002, with 12 ever charged with crimes. Only two have been convicted.) Hassan’s clearance came, yet he remained at America’s off-shore penal colony without explanation or hope of release. He went on a hunger strike in 2009 in protest (the U.S. military refers to it as a “long-term non-religious fast”), and was force-fed.