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From a November discussion on the Eyes Left podcast, between Mike Prysner, an Iraq War veteran, and Mansoor Adayfi, a former detainee at Guantánamo Bay.

mansoor adayfi: As you know, Guantánamo was created out of the legal zone, out of the legal system. Torture was the mechanism of Guantánamo. Torture, abuse, and experimenting on prisoners. We went on a massive hunger strike in 2005. And there was force-feeding. It was torture.

I saw a fucking handsome person come in and he said, “I’m here to ensure that you are treated humanely.”

mike prysner: It was Ron DeSantis?*

adayfi: Yes. And, “If you have any problems, if you have any concerns, just talk to me.” We were drowning in that place. So I was like, “Oh, this is cool. This person will raise the concerns.” But it was a piece of the game. What they were doing was looking for what hurts us more so they could use it against us. In 2006, when DeSantis was there, it was one of the worst times at Guantánamo. The administration, the guards, all of them were the worst. They cracked down on us so hard. When they came to break our hunger strike, a team came to us. The head of the team, he was a general. He said, “I have a job. I was sent here to break your fucking hunger strike. I don’t care why you are here. I don’t care who you are. My job is to make you eat. Today we are talking. Tomorrow there will be no talking.” The second day, they brought piles of Ensure and they started force-feeding us over and over again.

prysner: For those who don’t know, Ensure is a thick milky nutritional shake mainly marketed on daytime television to elderly people. It is very hard to drink.

adayfi: Yes, and Ron DeSantis was there watching us. We were crying, screaming. We were tied to the feeding chair. And he was watching. He was laughing. Our stomachs could not hold this amount of Ensure. They poured one can after another. So when he approached me, I said, “This is the way we are treated!” He said, “You should eat.” I threw up in his face. Literally on his face.

prysner: Ron DeSantis?

adayfi: In his face. Yeah.

prysner: It was well deserved. A JAG lawyer at the time, he would have been well aware this was a violation of international law. There is no question that it was torture.

adayfi: They used to restrain us in that feeding chair. They tied our head, our shoulders, our wrists, our thighs, and our legs. They put some kind of laxative in the feeding liquid. We were shitting ourselves all the time. Then we were moved to solitary confinement—really cold cells. It was like five times a day. It wasn’t feeding. It was just torture. Five times a day. You can’t possibly handle it. They just kept pouring the Ensure. In one week, they broke all the hunger strikers. And he was there. All of them were watching. They also used to beat us. And if we screamed or were bleeding out of our nose and mouth, they were like, “Eat.” The only word they told you was “eat.” We were beaten all day long. Whatever you were doing—they just beat you. Pepper spray, beating, sleep deprivation. That continued for three months. And he was there. He was one of the people that supervised the torture, the abuses, the beatings. All the time at Guantánamo.

prysner: So Ron DeSantis was actually supervising torture, beatings? He was supervising these force-feedings?

adayfi: I’m telling Americans: this guy is a torturer. He is a criminal. He was laughing. And he was there to ensure we were treated humanely.

prysner: He was laughing?

adayfi: Yes, they were looking at us, laughing because we were shitting ourselves. I was screaming and yelling. When your stomach is full of Ensure you can’t breathe. And you are throwing up at the same time. I was screaming. I looked at him and he was actually smiling. Like someone who was enjoying it.

One of the things that hurt us was, you know, when someone comes and tells you, “I’m here to help you, I’m here to ensure that you are treated humanely,” and when he turned against us—not turned against us, showed his true face—it was a shock to us all. He had his notebook. He would ask the prisoners, “Do you have any problems? How can I help you? How have the guards treated you?” I was like, “Wow, thanks!” But everything we told him was turned against us.

prysner: So he basically was gathering intelligence to tell the interrogators what it was that was impacting you most so they could do it more.

adayfi: I remember when we were talking about the noise in the night. We were talking about the vacuums, the generators, the fans, and everything. And they brought more stuff.

prysner: You told DeSantis this and then they increased the noise?

adayfi: They increased the noise. And also the food, for example. We told him we don’t eat meat. What the guards did after that is they mixed all the food with meat.

prysner: And that’s another thing you told DeSantis?

adayfi: It’s not just that. Medicine. Clothing. Treatment. Sleeping. The desecration of the Qur’an. Everything. We talked to him. When they were force-feeding us, he was smiling. Looking at us as trash.

prysner: You told me there was a resistance tactic there, of splashing administrators? Splashing them with your own feces? But you didn’t use this tactic often?

adayfi: Only the worst of the worst got splashed.

prysner: DeSantis?

adayfi: Yes.


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March 2023

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