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DeSantis REJECTS claims he authorized force-feeding in Guantanamo Bay: Florida Governor insists he was just a junior officer after detainees claimed he oversaw torture
- He said claims he authorized the practice were ‘not true’
- He was a junior officer without authority ‘to authorize anything’
- He said in 2018 military lawyers advised ‘Hey, you actually can force feed’
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in an interview denied even having the authority to green light force-feeding of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba when he was stationed there – and called reports to that effect wrong.
DeSantis was asked in an interview about ‘rumors’ that he authorized the practice, which the Pentagon did in fact approve amid hunger strikes for detainees held there for years without trial. It came in a sit-down where he took aim at rival Donald Trump while seeking to walk back his comments that Russia’s war on Ukraine was a ‘territorial dispute.’
‘Yeah, that’s not true. Yeah,’ DeSantis replied when interviewer Piers Morgan on FOX Nation asked about him authorizing the practice.
Pressed on whether claims were true that he authorized feedings, he added: ‘So I was a, I was a junior officer. I didn’t have authority to authorize anything. There may have been a commander that would have done feeding if someone was going to die, but that was not something that I would have even had authority to do. During his time at Gitmo in 2006 DeSantis was a Navy Lieutenant as part of it’s Judge Advocate General’s corps – serving a military lawyer.
‘I didn’t have authority to authorize anything,’ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in an interview when asked about authorizing force-feeding of detainees at Guantanamo Bay
‘So that’s that’s wrong,’ he was asked.
‘Yeah, absolutely,’ he replied.
His denial followed a Washington Post report on DeSantis’ time a Gitmo when he was 27 years old, an aspect of his service he does not stress in his biography (he also was deployed to Iraq).
‘Detainees were strapped into a chair, and a lubricated tube was stuffed down their nose so a nurse could pour down two cans of a protein drink,’ according to the report. ‘The detainees’ lawyers tried and failed to stop the painful practice, arguing that it violated international torture conventions.’
The report resurfaced DeSantis’ own words in a 2018 CBS interview, where he described his role advising fellow troops on their interactions with detainees.
‘They would do hunger strikes, and you actually had three detainees that committed suicide with hunger strikes. So everything at that time was legal in nature one way or another. So the commander wants to know, “Well, how do I combat this?” So one of the jobs of the Legal Adviser be like, “Hey, you actually can force feed, here’s what you can do. Here’s kind of the rules of that.’
DeSantis spent time advising U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay. ‘Hey, you actually can force feed,’ he said military lawyers would advise the military commander
DeSantis said there should have been military commissions set up sooner to try Guantanamo Bay detainees
He said hunger strikes were common at the time. Members of the military operating the prison sought guidance on what was allowable in the event of a hunger strike
DeSantis, who attended Harvard law school, said he supported the U.S. of military commissions on detainees taken from the battlefield in Afghanistan as well as other far flung locales. Of 780 detainees held there, 11 have been charged.
DeSantis served in the Navy’s JAG corps
‘Well I think that there should have been a military commissions. I did support that… What I saw was basically a professionally run prison, and there were different kind of categories, to the [terror leader] Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, [he] is going to be in a maximum security. Some of these other guys were like open air, play soccer all day, who were viewed as less of a threat. But what they’re trying to figure out is, ‘okay, if we release this person back to Afghanistan are they gonna engage in terrorism again?’ he said.
Asked if he had an issue as a lawyer with people held there for long periods, he responded: ‘It’s a tough thing when you have a situation with 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 just stuttered, they didn’t get off the ground. They should have had those up and running and in some due process but it’s not what you would get in a civilian trial.’