DeSantis REJECTS he allowed force-feeding at Guantanamo Bay: Florida governor insists he was just a junior officer after inmates claim he oversaw torture
- He said claims he allowed the practice were ‘not true’
- He was a junior officer with no authority “to authorize anything”
- He said in 2018 military lawyers advised ‘Hey you can actually force feed yourself’
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in an interview even denied he had the authority to green light the force-feeding of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, while he was stationed there – and called reports to that effect false.
DeSantis was asked in an interview about “rumors” that he authorized the practice, which the Pentagon actually approved amid hunger strikes for inmates who have been held there for years without trial. It came during a meeting where he took aim at rival Donald Trump while seeking to backtrack on his comments that Russia’s war with Ukraine was a “territorial dispute”.
‘Yeah, that’s not true. Yeah,’ DeSantis replied when asked by FOX Nation interviewer Piers Morgan if he allowed the practice.
Pressed to find out if the claims were true that he allowed feedings, he added: ‘So I was a, I was a junior officer. I had no power to authorize anything. There might have been a commander who would have fed if someone was going to die, but that wasn’t even something I would have had the power to do. While at Gitmo in 2006, DeSantis served as a Navy lieutenant as part of its Judge Advocate General Corps – serving as a military attorney.
“I had no authority to authorize anything,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said in an interview when asked about authorizing force-feeding detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
“So it’s wrong,” he was asked.
“Yes, absolutely,” he replied.
His denial follows a Washington Post report about DeSantis’ time as a Gitmo when he was 27, an aspect of his service he doesn’t highlight in his biography (he was also deployed to Iraq).
“Inmates were tied to a chair and a lubricated tube was shoved up their noses so that a nurse could pour two cans of a protein shake,” according to the report. “Lawyers for the detainees have tried and failed to end this painful practice, arguing that it violates international conventions on torture.
The report resurfaced DeSantis’ own words in a 2018 CBS interview, where he described his role in advising fellow students about their interactions with inmates.
“They were on hunger strikes, and you actually had three inmates who committed suicide with hunger strikes. So at that time everything was legal in one way or another. So the commander wants to know, “Well, how can I fight this?” So one of the legal counsel’s jobs is to say, “Hey, you can actually force-feed yourself, here’s what you can do. Here’s kind of the rules.”
DeSantis spent time advising US forces at Guantanamo Bay. “Hey, you can actually force-feed yourself,” he said, the military lawyers would advise the military commander
DeSantis said there should have been military commissions set up earlier to try Guantanamo Bay detainees
He said hunger strikes were common at the time. Members of the army who operate the prison sought advice on what was allowed in the event of a hunger strike
DeSantis, who attended Harvard Law School, said he supports US military commissions on detainees taken to the battlefield in Afghanistan as well as other remote locations. Of 780 detainees held there, 11 have been charged.
DeSantis served in the Navy JAG Corps
“Well, I think there should have been military commissions. I argued that… What I saw was basically a professionally run prison, and there were different types of categories, a la [terror leader] Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, [he] going to be in maximum security. Some of these other guys were like outdoors, playing football all day, and were considered less of a threat. But what they’re trying to figure out is ‘okay, if we release this person in Afghanistan, are they still going to engage in terrorism?’ he said.
When asked if he had a problem as a lawyer with people detained there for long periods of time, he replied: “It’s a difficult thing when you have a situation of terrorism and war because they’re not a nation state and you can’t try them, I think, in a civilian court. So you really need military commissions. I actually thought I was going to be involved in a military commission and they really stuttered, they didn’t take off. They should have had them in place and in process, but that’s not what you would get in a civil lawsuit.