So anti-woke Florida bully-boy Governor Ron DeSantis (an aspiring Republican presidential nominee) has thrown down with the view that Russia's attempt to erase Ukraine and Ukrainians is just a "territorial dispute."
Apparently he fears Donald Trump's Putin-love will upstage him unless he goes along. Kind of pathetic, but common behavior from people who only punch down.
If DeSantis prevails in his bid to lead the GOPers, there's a detail in his biography that will probably get more attention. As a newly minted Navy legal officer in 2006, DeSantis got an education in punching down at the U.S. gulag at Guantanamo. He doesn't talk about it much, but as part of his self-presentation as stand-up military guy, it will certainly draw at least some scrutiny.
It's not at all clear what DeSantis did at America's Cuban prison. He was there at a particularly bad time, when, interrogators frustrated because their captives didn't provide intelligence about al Qaeda (because the prisoners didn't have any) turned to brutal methods. Prisoners responded with a hunger strike -- having no other recourse to assert their humanity, they became willing to starve themselves. Official accounts say DeSantis filled a very junior paper pusher role; this makes sense. But the Florida BullDog
, a muckraking online pub, passes on a story from a released detainee which adds to some color to DeSantis' Guantanamo tour.
Mansoor Adayfi, formerly detainee #441 and also known as Abdul Rahman Ahmed, says JAG Officer Ron DeSantis observed, allowed and participated in illegal acts of torture to help put down a hunger strike in 2006 by dozens of detainees protesting their detention. DeSantis also covered up the torture, Adayfi says.
The Yemen-born Adayfi, held for 14 years without charges, was released in 2016 and flown to Serbia to start a new life after a review board determined he was not a threat to the U.S. He made his allegations about DeSantis in a Nov. 18 interview podcast of Eyes Left, hosted by U.S. Army veteran and anti-war activist Michael Prysner, a graduate of Florida Atlantic University.
“I saw a fucking handsome person who was coming. He said, ‘I’m here to ensure that you’re treated humanely.’ And we said, OK, this is our demand, you know. We’re not asking for much,” Adayfi said. He said DeSantis went on, “And if you have any problems, if you have any concerns, if you have…just talk to me.’ And you know we, we, we, we’re drowning in that place. I’m like, ‘Oh, this is cool.’ That person actually writing something. He will raise the concerns, but it was [a] piece of the game. What they were doing, they were, they were looking what’s [going to] hurt you more, to use against you.”
Adayfi, now 44, said DeSantis watched with amusement as he and other detainees were repeatedly force-fed Ensure, a “meal replacement” shake, through a nasal feeding tube pushed down their throats.
With considerable pride, Adayfi continues:
*So, when he approached me, I said this is the way we are treated. He said, ‘You should start to eat.’ …I threw up on his face. Literally on his face.”
True story? Only DeSantis knows and he's not answering questions. The image of a prisoner striving for some smidgen of dignity under intolerable conditions by throwing up in the face of his jailer stays with with me.
DeSantis, during his time in Congress, consistently joined the Republican push to keep Guantanamo open despite most of its inmates being declared no danger to Americans, while denying access to American courts to the few who were actually charged with specific crimes.
Not all military lawyers sent to work at Guantanamo ended up punching down solely. For some, their attachment to law led to a different path. Colonel Moe Davis who was DeSantis' boss later left his post refusing to use evidence obtained through torture.
Cartoon credit: DonkeyHotey