Here’s Revisiting Claims That Ron DeSantis ‘Abused’ Guantanamo Bay Detainees
Almost a year ago, accusations surfaced that Ron DeSantis, the Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate, had abused detainees at Guantanamo Bay during his tenure as a young Navy lawyer. The claims were posed by former detainee Mansoor Adayfi, who said that DeSantis had participated in the forced feeding of prisoners after a hunger strike and had mercilessly laughed during the process.
Adayfi’s account gained prominent media attention, with his allegations going viral on media outlets and becoming a part of the research done by the Democratic opposition. However, a thorough analysis of military records, as well as interviews with individuals who served at Guantanamo during the same time period as DeSantis, has failed to unravel any evidence in support of these allegations.
Around 40 people, including lawyers, service members, and fellow Navy officers who served alongside DeSantis, were interviewed, and none recalled witnessing or hearing about the events described by Adayfi. These individuals have unanimously said the claims were 'highly unlikely,' given DeSantis’ junior rank and his limited responsibilities during his tenure at the infamous prison. Since DeSantis was a junior officer at the time, he would have been specifically tasked with administrative and support duties. DeSantis's service records and the accounts of his peers highlight that his visits to the base were brief and focused on routine tasks; he would not have had the authority or reason to participate in, let alone witness, a force-feeding operation, which was carried out by the medical staff. Even senior lawyers, in accordance with the commandants of the prison guards at the time, were not allowed near these force-feedings.
As per The New York Times, DeSantis himself denied the accusations constantly when questioned by reporters. However, his campaign has refrained from releasing any specific statement or records that could contradict Adayfi’s claims, including DeSantis' travel details and dates. The case also highlights the hurdles of verifying severe allegations related to Guantanamo Bay due to the prison's culture of secrecy and the lack of transparency. Furthermore, Adayfi’s claims were amplified by a ferocious partisan media environment, where such allegations could circulate unchecked.
Why doesn’t DeSantis mention his time in Guantanamo Bay— Daniel Uhlfelder (@DWUhlfelderLaw) August 24, 2023
DeSantis’s role at Guantanamo in 2006 was that of a junior officer, and he earned a reputation among his colleagues for his confidence; he was known for his keenness to take on tasks, both at work and in other activities. Moreover, the investigation team contacted over 20 lawyers who served during the same time period as DeSantis and found out that none could corroborate Adayfi's claims. Only Captain Patrick McCarthy, the former top lawyer at the base, was familiar with DeSantis' specific assignments, stating that the current Florida Governor interacted with detainees only for limited and discrete tasks.
The accusations against DeSantis began when Adayfi recognized him in new coverage and shared his story on a left-wing podcast. Moreover, Adayfi’s claims have not been consistent, and the timing of events described in his accounts does not match with DeSantis’ presence at Guantanamo. While Adayfi’s allegations have attracted media attention, including mainstream publications, they remain unsubstantiated. DeSantis’ limited role in Guantanamo, backed by the lack of corroborating proof from those who served along with him, raises questions about the genuineness of these accusations.
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