Was Ron DeSantis a Guantanamo torturer?

Mansoor Adayfi was held without charge at Guantanamo Bay from 2002, when he was 18, until 2016.  He recently told podcaster Mike Prysner that he was tortured, and the Ron DeSantis, now Governor of Florida, was one of his torturers.

In 2005, Adayfi said, he and about 200 fellow inmates were carrying on a hunger strike.  Lt (jg) Ron DeSantis of the Judge Advocate General Corps arrived on the scene and presented himself as a mediator.

Ron DeSantis

Adayfi said DeSantis asked the prisoners to tell them of their concerns, so that he could take it up with prison officials.  But what DeSantis really was doing was finding out the prisoners’ weaknesses, so they could be tormented more effectively.

“It was a piece of the game what they were doing,” he said. “They were looking for what hurt you more to use it against you.”

The detainees were strapped down and force-fed Ensure, a liquid nutritional supplement, 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,”

He said prison administrators put a laxative into the liquid that gave the prisoners diarrhea.  Afterward, he said, they were put in 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.

“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 and he was actually smiling.  Like someone who enjoyed it,” Adayfi said.

He also said he also complained to DeSantis about noise and sleep deprivation, and about the meat in prison food.  The result was more noise and more non-Halal meat mixed in the food.

I admit this information comes from just one podcast.  Nobody I know of has asked DeSantis for his side of the story.  But it is a fact that the hunger strike occurred, and also a fact that detainees were tortured.

The U.S. Navy has declined to specify the exact nature of DeSantis’s duties at Guantanamo Bay.  I’m not sure of the exact chronology of his service.

Later DeSantis was sent to Iraq as the Legal Advisor to the SEAL Commander of a Special Operations Task Force in Fallujah.  His job was to advise the commander on the law of War and certify that the command was operating within the law of war.

DeSantis still is serving in the U.S. Naval Reserve.  I have my suspicions, but all I can say is that, since he is a public figure and a possible candidate for President of the United States, the public has a right to know just what he did.

His assignments in Guantanamo Bay and Fallujah were more than 15 years ago.  There can be no national security reasons to keep his service record secret, except possible damage to the reputation of the U.S. armed forces and national security state.


Who is DeSantis’s accuser?  What was he doing in Afghanistan?

A reporter for The Intercept said Mansoor Adayfi grew up in Yemen to a poor but happy family; his father wanted all of the children, including the girls, to get an education. He spent his childhood chasing goats and sheep in the mountains. He recounts the first time he saw electricity, when he went to Sanaa to study.

He told the reporter he was sent to Afghanistan to do research for a sheikh at a Yemeni Islamic institute and that he was captured by a warlord and handed over to the Americans.

We know know that U.S. forces offered bounties for captured members of the Taliban, and they didn’t check on whether people turned over were actually members of the Taliban or not.  Many harmless people were sent to Guantanamo.

I do think it is reasonable to wonder what somebody from Yemen was doing in Afghanistan at this particular time.  I don’t pretend to know.  But suppose, purely speculatively, that Adayfi went to Afghanistan to join, or make contact with, Al Qaeda or the Taliban.

If he was considered an enemy soldier, he should have been treated as a prisoner of war under the Geneva convention.  If he was considered a criminal terrorist, he should have been put on trial.  But he never was charged with anything.

Treatment of the prisoners gradually improved and one by one they were released.  Adayfi was one of the defiant ones.  He went berserk when a telephone call to his mother was cut off because he mentioned the hunger strike; the existence of the hunger strike was supposed to be a secret.

I suppose this defiance is what is meant when people like him are called “the worst of the worst.”

He was eventually let go, along with a fellow inmate from Tadjikistan, in Serbia, a country to which he had no ties and whose language he did not speak, with no money or resources.

Friends helped him, and he was able to get a job as the Guantánamo Project coordinator at CAGE, an organization that advocates on behalf of victims of the war on terror.

Last year his book, Don’t Forget Us Here, was published.  The Intercept link and Democracy Now YouTube video have more information about that.

I am amazed that he could go through what he did, and be the person he evidently is.

I don’t understand what purpose the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay served, or was intended to serve.  There must be better ways of gathering intelligence than just sweeping up a few hundred people, more or less at random, and taking them somewhere.  If interrogation of the prisoners had ever produced any useful intelligence, it surely would have been made known by now.

Torture is the ultimate crime against humanity.  Everybody dies a physical death, sooner or later.  Torture is intended to destroy the spirit while the body still lives.  Anybody who is comfortable with torture is not fit for public office.


Ron DeSantis’s Military Secrets: Torture and War Crimes by Mike Prysner for his Eyes Left Podcast.

‘I was screaming and he was smiling’: DeSantis ran Guantanamo torture by Al Mayadeen English.

“Don’t forget us here”: A former Guantanamo prisoner’s memoir by Cora Currier for The Intercept.

In Our Prison on the Sea by Mansoor Adayfi for The New York Times.

What is and isn’t known about Ron DeSantis’s Navy career: Records provide a glimpse by Diane Rado for Florida Phoenix.  For what it’s worth.

Viral Post Recounts Key Details of Ron DeSantis’s Life Before Politics by Jordan Liles for Snopes.com.  For what it’s worth.

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4 Responses to “Was Ron DeSantis a Guantanamo torturer?”

  1. Gerry Dunphy Says:

    Tô your knowledge, has anyone directly asked DeSantis about this accusation? Are there any other witnesses to these interrogations or other means to test the validity of the accusation?

    Liked by 1 person

    • philebersole Says:

      Gerry, to my knowledge, nobody has asked DeSantis directly about his role in interrogations. The basic facts about his military assignments are hard to comb by.

      To my knowledge, nobody has sought out other witnesses to test the validity of the accusation.

      It is reasonable to suspect that he was on the scene while bad stuff was going on. It is reasonable to ask him about this. This is as far as I go.


  2. Adelyn Ivy Says:

    First they came for the Communists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Communist

    Then they came for the Socialists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Socialist

    Then they came for the trade unionists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a trade unionist

    Then they came for the Jews
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Jew

    Then they came for me
    And there was no one left
    To speak out for me —Martin Niemöller


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