Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member


(48,926 posts)
Sun Feb 26, 2023, 08:07 PM Feb 2023

The Sunshine Imperium: The militarism of Ron DeSantis


FOUR YEARS into his unjustified imprisonment at Guantánamo Bay, Mansoor Adayfi met a young member of the Navy’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps who claimed to be his ally. “I saw a fucking handsome person,” Adayfi recently recalled in an interview with Mike Prysner, an Iraq War veteran turned peace activist. The dashing military lawyer had piercing blue eyes, white teeth, and dimples. He was armed only with a notebook, and his name was Ron DeSantis. “I’m here to ensure that you are treated humanely,” he pledged, according to Adayfi. Desperate and with few other options, Adayfi confided in DeSantis. He later regretted it. “When he turned his face—his true face,” he explained, “it was a shock to us all.”

The Republican Party’s great post-Trump hope for 2024 first touched down at America’s torture palace in March 2006. He was just twenty-seven. At the time, the prison’s sordid tactics were facing unprecedented scrutiny: the month DeSantis arrived in Cuba, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. In that case, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former bodyguard and chauffeur to Osama bin Laden, argued that the military commissions set up to try him and other Gitmo detainees violated both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions. In a momentous five-to-three decision, the court took his side.

In response, military brass rushed to defend and improve their practices. Ultimately, however, they focused more on rhetoric than redesign. DeSantis was then a junior prosecutor, meaning he was probably assigned boring clerical duties like processing security badges and drafting legal memos. But his main mission was ensuring that detainees were treated in line with applicable laws and regulations. “[He] would have been more in damage control mode than anything else,” estimated Moe Davis, the former chief prosecutor of the Guantánamo military commissions. Tom Fleener, a former defense lawyer at Gitmo, told me that “Ron knew where the bodies were buried, so to speak.” But “all the people around [him] were pitching the party line.” Fleener then ticked off this doctrine’s key claims. “It was, ‘We never grabbed innocent people. These are dangerous people who’ve committed unspeakable acts. These are enemy combatants. They can’t be released. We didn’t torture anybody. All our interrogation tactics worked. The information gleaned was true.’”

Fleener paused to take a breath. “Those were the standard mantras back then,” he explained. “All of it was false.” The facts were that many innocent people were being shackled, screamed at, beaten, and sexually assaulted at Guantánamo. Some died. Others were coerced into making false confessions.


Latest Discussions»General Discussion»The Sunshine Imperium: Th...