A recent New York Times investigation delved into the allegations made by former Guantánamo detainee Mansoor Adayfi, asserting that GOP presidential hopeful and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was present during detainee torture incidents. The Times’ inquiry involved interviews with over 40 individuals who served alongside DeSantis at the time, ultimately revealing that none of them had witnessed or heard of the events described by Adayfi.
In an op-ed for Al-Jazeera earlier this year, Adayfi claimed that DeSantis was present when he was subjected to force-feeding in an attempt to break a hunger strike within the prison. However, the gathered testimonies, coupled with a thorough examination of DeSantis’s military records, cast doubt on the veracity of these claims. According to DeSantis’s former colleagues, he held a junior officer position and primarily handled administrative tasks, making it highly improbable for him to have been involved in the force-feeding procedures.
Force-feeding is internationally recognized as a form of torture, a fact which further underscores the gravity of the allegations. Capt. Patrick McCarthy, a retired Navy officer who held a senior legal position at the base during DeSantis’s tenure, affirmed that DeSantis would have had minimal interaction with detainees and would not have been in a position to witness or partake in such practices.
In a 2018 interview, DeSantis discussed instances when commanding officers sought advice on addressing hunger strikes by detainees. Legal advisers, according to DeSantis, provided guidance on the force-feeding process. However, DeSantis emphasized that he lacked the authority to authorize such actions.
Governor DeSantis, who was stationed at Guantanamo Bay in 2006, has consistently refuted the allegations, emphasizing that he did not possess the authority to sanction such activities. He dismissed the claims as baseless and questioned how Adayfi, a former detainee, would have had any knowledge of him at the time, given DeSantis’s junior officer status.