“I was screaming and he was smiling”: DeSantis ran Guantanamo torture – Al Mayadeen English

There is more to than what meets the eye on DeSantis’ military past beyond a mere involvement in Guantanamo Bay.

  • An incorporation of Ron Desantis cracking up (AFP), alongside Mansoor Adayfi, photographed by the BBC. Image created by Al Mayadeen.
    An incorporation of Ron Desantis cracking up (AFP), alongside Mansoor Adayfi, photographed by the BBC. Image created by Al Mayadeen.

A recent episode of the Eyes Left Podcast reels in a first-person perspective testimony from a Yemeni ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee who was tortured at the hands of popular Republican governor, Ron DeSantis. 

The podcast was hosted by Mike Prysner, who is a US veteran that served in Iraq as a Specialist; his duties included ground surveillance and prisoner interrogation. 

Watch next: Former Soldier Mike Prysner Interrupts Bush: “You Lied”

Prysner described DeSantis’ actions as “TV worthy” – but not in the fictionalized sense, but rather running under the “true crime” genre. Washington kept details about DeSantis’ role in Guantanamo Bay under wraps: Addressing inquisitions about what DeSantis’ role was, one Navy spokesperson responded: “Unfortunately, the specific details about Mr. DeSantis role are not available.”

What the podcast reveals is that DeSantis served as a JAG officer, which essentially means that he was a Judge Advocate General Corps. He was a law student, previously completing his undergraduate studies at Yale, where he was part of the Delta Cappa Epsilon like the two ‘Bushes’ –  George HW Bush and his son, George Bush. Pro-Confederacy and blatantly racist, his political career with the Pentagon began immediately in his second year of law school. 

However, his job was never reduced to courtrooms, but rather to conduct rogue, clandestine operations – his official job, a guise, was to “ensure the human rights of detainees.” 

It was quite the opposite.

The height of inhumane treatment and systemic torture in the camp was during DeSantis’ term serving as a JAG officer, whose main task was to identify the weaknesses of the detainees and to “tighten the screws” on them – and, in addition, to keep a clean record. He made sure that human rights were violated to the worst degree, according to the podcast. 

A story of sadism & manipulation

In this podcast, Prysner interviews Mansoor Adayfi, who was deceived by DeSantis first-hand as the incumbent governor not only ordered his torture, but also sat, watched, and laughed. 

Adayfi is of Yemeni origin and was on a cultural mission to Afghanistan in the early days of the war. He was kidnapped by traitors and sold to the US, who relocated him to the notoriously infamous Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

As he endured torture during his imprisonment, Adayfi narrated that DeSantis walked in, and depicted himself as the good Samaritan who wanted to relay the prisoners’ concerns to the administration. His persuasion would get the prisoners “comfortable” enough to talk, manipulating them. 

For context, the host explained that during the time there was a mass protest of around 500 detainees who were on a hunger strike and that it was professed as a “major problem” for the Bush administration. So, “they brought in a collection of new ruthless individuals to break the strike.”

Adayfi narrates, “We went on a hunger strike in 2005 and there was like 500 prisoners participating in the hunger strike,” after which DeSantis walked into the room, clarifying his intention to negotiate with the prisoners. “We believed them, that they would negotiate and talk to us… But it was a trap,” said Adayfi. 

Adayfi, who was 18 when he was detained, to his innocence thought that DeSantis would “raise his concerns. But it was a piece of the game what they were doing. They were looking for what hurt you more to use it against you.”

An army general walked in, ready to exploit weaknesses: “I have a job. I was sent here to break your f****** hunger strike. I do not care why you are here, I don’t care who you are. My job, sir, here is to make you eat. Today we are talking, tomorrow there will be no talking.” The prisoners were shaken to experience what was coming for them. 

The detainees were force-fed cans of Ensure, a liquid nutrition supplement usually taken by the elderly. DeSantis watched as detainees were strapped to the chair, force-fed can after can of Ensure through their noses. 

“Ron DeSantis was there watching us. We were crying, screaming. We were tied to the feeding chair. And that guy was watching that. He was laughing,” Adayfi lamented, saying that their bodies could not take the amounts of Ensure they were being forced and that he threw up on DeSantis’ face. 

“I threw up on his face. Literally. On his face,” he said. 

“They put laxative in our feeding liquid”

Common Article Three of the Geneva Convention stipulates that force-feeding is an act of torture, and it is prohibited by the World Medical Association in a 1975 declaration. 

Under DeSantis’ supervision, prison administrators “tied our heads, our shoulder, our rest, our thighs and our legs,” putting “some kind laxative in the feeding liquid so we s*** ourselves all the time,” after which they were locked up into solitary confinement. 

“They broke all of the hunger strikes in one week,” Adayfi said. “It was a machine. And he was there. All of them were watching the colonel, officers, doctors, nurses, and not just that, they used to also beat us.

“And if we scream in pain, [with the] bleeding [that] came out of our nose and mouth… They were like eat. The only word they told you eat. Eat, eat, eat. You know, we were beaten all day long. All day. There’s a team. Whatever you are doing, they just beat you. Pepper spray, beating, beating, sleep deprivation that continued for three months.”

“When I was screaming, I look at him [Ron DeSantis] and he was actually smiling. Like someone who enjoyed it,” Adayfi said. “It shocked us all.” 

DeSantis’ position was not routine

Another weakness that DeSantis took advantage of was Adayfi’s complaints of sleep deprivation, and the noise he was hearing in the night. In response, DeSantis ramped up intentional noise to continue to torture the prisoners. 

To Adayfi and his comrades’ misfortune, speaking to DeSantis about the meat in prison food only prompted the prison guards to mix all the food with meat, knowing that the detainees are largely Muslim and do not consume non-Halal products. 

“Ron’s position was not some routine one. He didn’t just rotate in and take over for some other low-level officer. Until then, no JAG officer had been assigned to such a position. He was brought in during a crisis.”

A poll released last week revealed that DeSantis is a favorite candidate among the Republican party – even more than Trump. The YouGov survey found that 42% of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents and Republican-leaning independents said they would prefer DeSantis over Trump to run in 2024. Only 35% said they would prefer Trump over the Florida governor.

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