In a Monday tweet, Crist accused DeSantis' apparent unwillingness to denounce a January Nazi rally in Orlando as directly correlated with a planned protest of an upcoming drag queen story hour in the city.
The threat of violence later prompted the hosts to cancel the event, after a Florida antifascist group reported the likely presence of extremist groups like the National Socialist Movement, the Patriot Front, the Goyim Defense League and the Proud Boys.
Newsweek has contacted DeSantis' campaign for comment.
This week's incident is yet another event in a series of protests across the state featuring far-right extremists, with Democrats seeking to tie their opponents to them.
DeSantis did eventually condemn the protests, but only after he was asked about it in a news conference. According to media reports at the time, the governor called the neo-Nazi demonstrators "jackasses" before noting they committed the crime of demonstrating on an overpass and would be held accountable.
He then pivoted by accusing Democrats of trying to distract from President Joe Biden's record, before saying he did not believe it was necessary to elevate the profiles of the estimated 20 neo-Nazi protesters who were spotted at the event.=
"They try to play games to try to politicize, why would they do that?" DeSantis asked at the time. "Why would they want to elevate a half-dozen malcontents and try to make this an issue for political gain?"
It would not be the last time his statements would be used against him.
In July, the state's Democratic commissioner of agriculture and consumer services, Nikki Fried, wrote a letter to DeSantis formally requesting that he condemn Nazi demonstrations that took place in Tampa following sightings of "DeSantis Country" flags among swastikas and other Nazi imagery. The organizers of the event, Turning Point USA, quickly condemned the protesters following the incident while DeSantis, Fried said, did not.
"Disturbingly, this is not the first time I have asked you to condemn Nazi demonstrations in our state," she wrote. "In January, you refused to denounce a Nazi gathering in Orlando, claiming it was an attempt to 'smear me as if I had something to do with it.' As one of your harshest critics, I do not believe you are involved directly with Nazi demonstrations, however, your continued failure to speak out—especially when your name, image, and likeness is being co-opted by Nazis—is puzzling from a governor who never fails to speak his mind."
Ron DeSantis Oversaw Torure at Guantanamo
"For someone who loves talking about himself and has carefully crafted and performed a distinct public persona, there are parts of DeSantis’s history that he has been curiously vague or tight-lipped about. ..."
BY MAXIMILLIAN ALVAREZ
Real News Network, DECEMBER 2, 2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s political star is on the rise, with many commentators identifying him as the heir apparent to a post-Trump GOP. For someone with such an immense public persona, DeSantis has been curiously tight-lipped about his military past. A bombshell new report from journalist and Army veteran Mike Prysner on his podcast Eyes Left now reveals why.... After his stint in Guantánamo, DeSantis was deployed to Fallujah to act as the US military’s human rights lawyer during the Second Gulf War. Mike Prysner joins TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez to discuss his reporting, and what DeSantis’s past tells us about the future he has in store for all of us.
Maximillian Alvarez: Welcome, everyone, to The Real News Network podcast. ...
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s political star has been on the rise in recent years. Having fashioned himself a crusader against so-called wokeism, DeSantis’s political agenda is tailor-made to “own the libs” and to pander to obsessive Fox News watchers and right-wing culture warriors. With a political style that is deeply Trumpian in nature, including a gait and demeanor that feel like carbon copies of Donald Trump himself but with an air of official poise about him and a sort of strategic intelligence that seems to exceed that of our bull in a china shop former President, DeSantis offers many Republicans and far right enthusiasts a more polished version of Trumpian politics. Something like Trump without Trump. After winning his reelection by a landslide this November, many within and outside the party are openly cheering for DeSantis to become the standard-bearer for Republicans heading into the 2024 elections.
Now, we should have learned from the past seven years that Donald Trump is never going to just fade away into the background, so we should be cautious about jumping too quickly on that bandwagon. But if DeSantis does in fact become the GOP’s champion, what will that mean for the party and for the country? What do we know about DeSantis’s political reign in Florida? What can we glean from that when it comes to discerning Republicans’ plans for the country if indeed DeSantis becomes the party nominee or even the president-elect in 2024? And what, for that matter, do we know about Ron DeSantis himself?
For someone who loves talking about himself and has carefully crafted and performed a distinct public persona, there are parts of DeSantis’s history that he has been curiously vague or tight-lipped about. Perhaps nowhere is that more true than when it comes to DeSantis’s career in and around the military, including his time at Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq.
But in a recent blockbuster episode of the podcast Eyes Left, host and US Army veteran Mike Prysner delves deep into the shadowy recesses of DeSantis’s military career, exposing some truly jaw-dropping and never-before-heard details. Details that come through in the interview portion especially of Mike’s recent episode in which he spoke with Mansoor Adayfi who is also known by the name Detainee #441.
Mansoor was imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for over 14 years without charges as an enemy combatant. Now, Mike interviewed Mansoor for this episode, and we’re about to play a clip from that episode so that you can get a little bit of a taste of the shocking revelations that are peppered throughout.
Mansoor Adayfi: We were beaten all day long, all day. There’s a team, whatever you do, they just beat you. Pepper spray, beating, sleep deprivation, that continued for three months. And he was there. Because at the beginning he told us that he was there to ensure we are treated humanely, and if we have concerns or issues, he will take it. But he’s one of the people who actually supervised the torture, the abuse, and the beating all the time at Guantanamo.
Mike Prysner: So Ron DeSantis, he wasn’t just there as a lawyer that you could go to. He was actually supervising torture, beatings, and he was supervising these force feedings of you and others.
Mansoor Adayfi: Ron DeSantis was there all the time because his job was to walk around and talk to prisoners in the camp. That was the job because the report is like, I am here to ensure you’re being treated humanely. I’m like, I’m telling you Americans, if this is humanity, this guy is a torturer, is a criminal.
Maximillian Alvarez: Now, of course, the best thing that you all can do is go immediately to your favorite podcast feed and listen to this really important episode of Eyes Left, which we will link to in the show notes. But we also have a special treat for Real News listeners today. I’m honored to be joined on The Real News podcast by Mike Prysner himself. Now, Mike is an Iraq War veteran, a co-writer and producer for the Empire Files, and he’s the host of Eyes Left, a socialist anti-war military podcast. Mike, thank you so much for joining us today on The Real News.
Mike Prysner: Thanks for having me.
Maximillian Alvarez: Well, to be honest, I’ve listened to this episode a number of times, which is not something I normally do with a lot of the podcasts that I consume. But I feel like every time I re-listened to it, there was another detail that I had somehow missed in the previous listens of it. Hearing you and Mansoor in conversation talking about Ron DeSantis in Guantanamo Bay, I mean, it’s just so Kafkaesque and creepy and horrifying what you all discuss in there.
I don’t want to bury the lead anymore. I wanted to bring you in here and ask for folks who are listening to this who haven’t yet heard the episode that you released on Eyes Left if you could break it down for folks. What does this episode cover? What was the process of researching it and putting it together? What really stood out to you during and after your interview with Mansoor Adayfi?
Mike Prysner: Yeah, well it’s interesting because initially I had difficulty getting ahold of Mansoor, connecting with him. He doesn’t live in the US. He lives abroad and is a little hard to get a hold of. I had scripted and recorded an entire episode that was really just drawing inference from what we do know about what I had researched about DeSantis’s military background and was trying to just make the point, there’s obviously something here that’s sketchy that should be looked into more and has not been reported yet. I was about to publish it when Mansoor finally responded to me, and so I recorded an interview with him and realized… It was so explosive what he told me, I had to redo the entire episode. Luckily I was procrastinating enough to where I didn’t publish on time, otherwise there would’ve been a bad episode that came out and then a better one to follow. But anyways, that’s just a little side story about how it all came together.
But I initially was interested in this story because I realized that there was really no reporting on Ron DeSantis’s military background. I think from some progressive-ish or Democratic Party-style military publications, they all kind of mocked this as it’s because DeSantis did nothing. He uses this photo of himself in Fallujah, but he was just a pencil pusher who never did anything, and they don’t look at the Guantanamo thing. He was just some JAG – JAG-offs, they call him in the military – Some JAG-off lawyer who just sat behind a desk and was trying to make himself look cool with this photo, but there’s really nothing to be looked into in his past. I didn’t really think that. I thought there had to be something more there.
I realized that the only press that actually did try to dig into some of his military history was local Florida press when he first ran for governor in 2018. I think this was brought on by the fact that he mentions his military service in campaign ads when he ran for governor the first time, and so they’re like, okay, let’s find out what he did. What struck me was… They did some digging, they acquired military documents through Freedom of Information Act requests, they talked to Navy spokespeople, they interviewed former colleagues of his and former superiors of his who served in Fallujah and at Guantanamo Bay with him. I knew there were these two deployments and they had done quite a bit of digging on it, but all the Florida press did was basically repeat what they were told by the Navy, by Navy officials, by Navy documents, and by these former superiors of his.
When you read what those say, it’s that what did Ron DeSantis do at Guantanamo? He was the lawyer in charge of ensuring that detainees’ human rights are respected and that the US was acting in compliance with international law, and that he did the same in Fallujah with special operations in 2007, and his prior deployment was Guantanamo Bay in 2006. That’s all that was existing in the media up until our episode came out. It really struck me.
I knew there was something more because anyone who knows anything about Guantanamo Bay knows that in 2006, if your job was to ensure international law was being upheld and that the detainees’ human rights were being respected, you know that that person was not doing their job, because that was the height of the Bush torture program. The entire world was aware that it was illegal, what was going on in Guantanamo Bay. The United Nations that very same year, in fact, while DeSantis was at Guantanamo, their human rights board met and determined that the torture was so egregious at Guantanamo that the whole prison needed to be shut down, the UN calling on Guantanamo Bay to be shut down. It just didn’t add up. He obviously wasn’t doing that.
But there was maybe some more to the story that we didn’t know. I mean, maybe DeSantis as an officer was saying, hey, this is illegal. We can’t do this. We don’t know much about DeSantis at that time. I knew it was worth looking into a little bit more. I found some earlier posts by Mansoor who said that he had interacted with DeSantis, and so that’s why I tried to get ahold of him. Just the timing of it, where he was and when was so suspicious to me. And then going to Fallujah at a very particular time, which I can talk about in a minute, was suspicious also.
Then after talking to Mansoor… The full interview’s about 10 minutes that’s in the podcast, but we talked for quite a bit longer than that. It was clear that it’s a big story. I think the interesting thing about it is initially people thought that his job at Guantanamo was just some routine position, that there’s always the lawyer, the lieutenant at Guantanamo who’s there officially to make sure human rights are respected, da da da. According to Mansoor, there was no lawyer prior to DeSantis. DeSantis was brought in specifically to break a hunger strike. He was not replacing some other lawyer whose job it was to ensure the human rights of detainees. That would, I think, imply that they knew DeSantis was going to be loyal and do the job they expected him to do by going to Guantanamo Bay.
Really through the interview, I mean, I don’t want to summarize the whole thing, but essentially not only was DeSantis not ensuring the human rights of detainees, but he kind of played the part. Played good cop at first, so that detainees would confide in him the things that they felt were the most egregious. DeSantis then reported that to the prison officials who then intensified, magnified, multiplied all of the things that were the hardest on the detainees, so basically used his position to amplify the torture, the illegal torture. Not only that, but he was present for beatings, present for force feedings and other forms of torture. As Mansoor describes, not only was he present and observing them, but seemed to take great pleasure in them happening. This really does line up with the DeSantis we know today: the bully, the racist, someone who you would expect to act in that way at Guantanamo.
We do know a little bit about him prior to serving in Guantanamo, being a right-wing guy who taught pro-Confederacy lessons in high school and wrote a book that was defending slavery and things like that. I think that Mansoor, to me, seems extremely credible. This is the only source we have for this. He did tell me he has other friends and a support group of former Gitmo detainees who have been released, and he told me he was communicating with all of them. They all hate DeSantis, remember him very well. He said they were all too scared to speak publicly because of what they had been through. Mansoor is very credible to me. He has a great reputation. People in the Close Guantanamo movement know and love him, respect him. He’s been featured on important left-wing and mainstream media internationally and here in the US.
He’s someone with a good reputation, a trustworthy person. Someone who has no reason to lie about this. It was shocking to me that there was so much just from his firsthand experience that we now know. It was surprising to me that nobody, no other media, had thought to dig into this in the past.
The next part of the story is then once he does this job at Guantanamo, which it appears he was kind of handpicked for and sent to do this very particular thing, he then goes straight from Guantanamo to Fallujah to be the human rights lawyer for special operations in Iraq during the height of the troop surge in one of the hotbeds of resistance in Fallujah. It seems that he impressed his superiors who then said, well, we need you to do some more cover-up type stuff so we can win the Iraq war. At that time, they were kind of winning by any means necessary. There’s not too much that I uncovered about that.
I interviewed in the episode an infantryman who worked in special operations in Iraq and special operations raids in Afghanistan as well who just relayed that the JAG officers with special operations units, their job is not to keep people in line, it’s to keep people out of trouble if anything illegal does happen. So that’s really, I guess, the summary of it. These are things that have never been questioned before and so I wanted to question them.
Maximillian Alvarez: Well, I’m so grateful to you for doing so because, again, even folks who listened to that clip that we played at the top of the episode can hear that there is so much shocking, horrifying, but invaluable information to have about this person who is becoming and has already become a very formidable political force in this country. I think even just from the standard of civic due diligence, I think it’s incumbent upon all of us to actually know as much as we can about this guy Ron DeSantis.
I wanted to, before we go deeper into the discussion that you and Mansoor had, I wanted to pause on a quick research question. Because as you said, I hadn’t heard about any of this shit, and I hadn’t seen it reported anywhere else until I came across your episode. But as someone who’s both researched, done a lot of research for this episode, but also as someone with military experience yourself and who has done a lot of investigative reporting over the years, I wanted to ask… This is going to sound like a dumb question, but I imagine a lot of us who are listening are thinking it: Why has it been so easy to obscure all of this from public view for so long? Are there particular points that we should note for people listening about how easy it is to obscure these kinds of details unless you happen to get an interview with a former detainee of Guantanamo Bay?
Mike Prysner: Yeah, well, military records are pretty hard to get. You can FOIA request government documents, but military documents are quite a bit harder and the military can deny you for no reason. It’s a little harder to get documents from them. The Navy documents on Ron DeSantis that were obtained through FOIA by Florida press, they were heavily redacted also. They had information, but most of it was blacked out, so there was a lot that was not there.
I think the reason it’s easy to obscure is, one of the big reasons is mainstream media doesn’t actually care about these things. The thing is, DeSantis just wanted to talk about his military experience enough to be able to check the box, to say, I’m a veteran too. It’s like politicians who were former officers in the military, that’s a stepping stone for political careers. And so to be able to get your cool guy photo in Iraq holding the gun, the one that Pete Buttigieg shares, it’s like you get that photo, you get to say in a debate, I’m a veteran, and then that’s pretty much it. No one really cares to look into it that much.
It is interesting because torture was once a big political issue in this country. People can recall that Obama rose through the Democratic primary and then won the presidential election on the firmest stance against torture and on closing Guantanamo Bay. In fact, the 2008 election, Obama and McCain were both dueling about who was more anti-torture. And so it was a massive political issue because it was such a big scandal. It has, I think, ceased to be a scandal. I mean, Obama, once he was elected, he of course did not close Guantanamo, but he did implement bans on certain forms of torture like waterboarding and things like that. I think there is an acceptance among the establishment that, well, the political crisis there is over, the international scandal is over, and it’s time to move on.
Those crimes were committed, and no one has ever been held accountable for the torture at Guantanamo or the CIA black sites. People like Gina Haspel and all of the leaders of Guantanamo, none of them have ever been held accountable. And of course, the abuses are still happening because Guantanamo is still there. It absolutely should be closed, and innocent people are still being held there and all of that.
I think because the scandal died down even though the issue remains an issue, the establishment press doesn’t really want to revisit it as much anymore. I think that that’s maybe one of the barriers as well is that there seemed to not be an interest in pursuing it. Because like I said, if you’re a journalist doing a story for a Florida newspaper and you get documents and do interviews and they say, yep, this is what DeSantis was doing at Guantanamo. He was ensuring human rights, and you go, okay, that’s what I’m going to print. Knowing what happened in 2006 at Guantanamo, I think that’s the biggest barrier is maybe the reporters themselves who initially investigated this story.
Maximillian Alvarez: I know we’re talking about incredibly serious stuff here, but I couldn’t help but think of Arrested Development and the ridiculous spin that they put on the Iraq War and Guantanamo Bay. It feels like that. Because I’m like, if you’re a reporter in Florida trying to learn more about Ron DeSantis’s military career and someone tells you that, that he was in charge of making sure that human rights were being respected at Guantanamo Bay, okay, then the obvious answer is he did not do a good job because that’s the one thing that everyone knows about Guantanamo Bay is it is a human rights catastrophe.
That’s where we really get into the serious shit that you discussed with Mansoor Adayfi. I’m with you. We had Mansoor on The Real News, in fact, last year. There was an incredible interview that our brother, Eddie Conway, host and founder of Rattling the Bars, conducted with Mansoor about Mansoor’s new book, or then new book, which is called Don’t Forget Us Here: Lost and Found at Guantanamo. We’re going to link to that in the show notes. I would highly recommend folks check it out after you listen to Mike’s great episode featuring an interview with Mansoor as well.
But yeah, throughout that whole interview, reading his book, it feels very credible to me. The details that he gives are just so… They really stop you in your tracks because… Just to paint a picture for folks. You get a different side of the Ron DeSantis legend. Because everyone knows that he’s always been this handsome guy, groomed from a young age to be a right-wing political star, has worked his way to get all of those notches on his belt, those line items on his resume to put him in the position that he is in now. Then when you see the underside of that from Mansoor Adayfi’s testimony, you see that similarly handsome face in a very dark light.
Mansoor describes DeSantis, again, as Mike said, the JAG officer who was purportedly at Guantanamo to ensure that human rights were being respected. Through the conversation with Mansoor, Mike uncovers that what DeSantis was, according to Mansoor’s testimony, was a cackling, smiling, abettor of the torturers who essentially used any information that he could glean from the detainees against them.
This all crescendos in Mansoor’s harrowing description of the infamous hunger strike that he and other detainees participated in, and the vicious response from the Guantanamo guards to force feed inmates with Ensure, the “health shake”, by sticking a giant tube in their nose and just dumping can after can until guys were throwing up and shitting themselves. I mean, Mike gives the disclaimer ahead of the episode, but just be warned some of it does get graphic, but I think it’s really important to listen to.
But again, amidst all of this, you’ve got this figure, almost like a literary figure, Mike. In my head I was like, this is like Nurse Ratched and Christoph Waltz’s character in Inglourious Basterds merged into this Kafkaesque setting of Guantanamo Bay. Talk to us more about what Mansoor describes to you about what he experienced in that fateful year when DeSantis was at Guantanamo and what his memory of DeSantis specifically is.
Mike Prysner: Yeah, well I think one of the things he says that is incredibly important, you mentioned that he spent 14 years in prison at Guantanamo starting in 2002. So he went through all of the worst Bush administration years. He says that the year DeSantis was there, 2006, DeSantis was there from March 2006 to January 2007, so most of the year, he said that was by far the worst year at Guantanamo, period. DeSantis wasn’t just there at Guantanamo, he was there presiding over what Mansoor says was the hardest year ever for them.
As I mentioned, DeSantis was brought in at a specific time. You referred to the big hunger strike. Throughout 2005, there were big hunger strikes at Guantanamo, over 500 detainees taking part in them to remind people that most of the people at Guantanamo had done nothing wrong. They were completely innocent. They were sold by corrupt warlords in Pakistan and Afghanistan to the CIA when after 9/11 the CIA said, give us your Al-Qaeda, and they said, okay, here’s random people we picked up or political opponents or whatever. The US government said, okay, here’s millions of dollars.
So it’s a big racket operation and people like Mansoor, who was 18 when he was captured by warlords, they were there, had done nothing wrong. But they knew that they had no charges, no trial, and that the plan was to keep them there literally forever. If you’re a detainee at Guantanamo and you’re enduring horrible torture, and all of the guards and administrators are people who are taking out their revenge for 9/11 on you personally day in and day out, and not even the day, throughout the entire night, not even letting people sleep, and in your mind, you are never going to leave. That is going to be your reality literally forever. There was quite a bit of resistance in the prison, and rightfully so, and that the hunger strike is part of what made it an international scandal.
As there was a growing scandal internationally and the UN was getting involved, there was an effort by the prison, the really brutal prison administration, to put down this resistance, to break the will of the hunger strikers and those who were carrying out different forms of resistance. Mansoor says that DeSantis was one of the people brought in at this time and the creation of this new good cop position of, hey, I’m here to hear your grievances. He also said there were others also, a general who came in and specifically said, I am here to make you eat to break your hunger strike. That’s the only reason I’m here.
I think what’s significant about that is imagine you are running Guantanamo Bay and you are trying to run an operation that is in extreme violation of international law because you believe you need to violate international law to torture and abuse all of these people for national security or whatever the hell, or racism, whatever justification they had. You say, okay, to break these hunger strikers, we’re going to create this position where a lawyer can come in and make them feel like their grievances are being heard.
Of course you would not bring in someone to a situation you know is illegal and say, hey, your job is to make sure we’re not doing anything illegal, some young officer from Harvard Law School. You are not going to put someone in that position unless you are 100% sure they are going to play ball. If there was any uncertainty about DeSantis, he would not have gotten that gig. He was picked, I think, specifically because they knew, you know what to do and you are on board with us politically. You have fealty to the Bush administration and to the torture program, and you see these people as subhuman, and you’re going to be totally down with whatever we do here. I think there’s definitely more to uncover about that. How he even got that job, especially since he had not really been doing anything interesting in his two years as a JAG officer prior to that.
In terms of what else I got from Mansoor, I think that the other interesting piece is that the reason that he and I mentioned him and his other friends, they all remember him. Another thing that speaks to the reputation of DeSantis there is he said they all remember him, he remembers him, because when you’re at Guantanamo, there are so many people abusing you. If you’re there for two decades, you’ve been abused by so many people. He said you can’t possibly remember everyone. It all kind of becomes a blur. He said, you remember the people who were nice to you and treated you humanely, of which there were few, and you remembered the worst of the people who were the worst to you. He said DeSantis universally was remembered by everyone because he was the worst of the worst.
Maximillian Alvarez: Man. Again, just like everyone listening should go check out the episode if you want to know why DeSantis has that ignoble distinction. I wanted to, because I know I’ve got to let you go in a second, but closing the loop, could you say a bit more about where the discussion in the podcast episode goes after Guantanamo? How that worked, what DeSantis did at Guantanamo then springboarded into Iraq?
Mike Prysner: Yeah. So I just mentioned that DeSantis’s career was pretty boring prior to Guantanamo. He did things like physical training, scheduling, and drug testing, administration, things like that. You won’t see them on the JAG television show, that’s for sure, and you won’t see them in any campaign ads for DeSantis because they were just pencil pusher type stuff. He gets this big break going to Guantanamo, and then right when he’s done with the Guantanamo assignment, his 10 months or whatever there, he goes straight to the troop surge in Iraq. You have to imagine that he got some kind of recommendation from Guantanamo, that his boss there referred him, gave him a good rec to do this next gig because he wasn’t just with a conventional unit, he was with special operations, a special operations commander who was overseeing all of the operations by Army Green Berets and the Navy Seals in Anbar, Fallujah area, which was extremely violent.
And this is in 2007. This is the height of the troop surge. This is when the Bush administration had basically told the Pentagon, we either win now or we’ve been defeated, or we’re going to be in a quagmire forever. It was like do or die, we win now. Any means necessary, whatever gets results, that was the attitude of the troop surge. And special operations, of course, that’s the way they operate at all times, bending the law. You have to imagine at this time and place things were probably quite a bit more intense. After the episode, I’ve seen some people in the Army corroborate that this was kind of the height of a special operations killing spree in that area, the time that DeSantis was there as the human rights lawyer. It’s again, what made him get that Guantanamo gig. It’s questionable what made him then go get that same job overseeing special operations in Fallujah during the troop surge. You have to imagine it’s because he did a good job at Guantanamo in their opinion.
But then what did he do there? The thing that’s hard with this one is it’s even more secretive than Guantanamo, I think. Whereas at Guantanamo, we can have detainees who have been released, who can speak about it. There’s detainees who were there who have access to lawyers now who can talk about it. But the people that were detained by special operations in Fallujah when DeSantis was there, you’re probably not hearing from any of those people. Some of them could have just ended up shot in the middle of the field, shot in their beds. The interrogations that happened with them could have been very different even than the ones that were observed at Guantanamo. So there’s a big question mark about what exactly happened among those units that Ron DeSantis was overseeing.
Regular conventional units you can glean a little more about if war crimes were committed, the kind of things that they were doing, because it’s more in their public record. But special operations, their whole thing is they exist in the shadows. It’s behind top secret. So there’s a lot that we can’t really know. It’s something that deserves being dug into more, and nobody really has. I think the goal of the podcast was to chronicle his military career, which is still ongoing, apparently. There’s no information about him actually leaving the Navy. As of this year, he was still an officer in the Navy Reserves. As far as anybody knows, he’s still in the Navy. His military career has not ended.
I think that we were able to introduce new questions, have some new information where we know we have at least one eyewitness testimony about him doing some bad stuff. But I definitely think there’s more to be discovered both from other witnesses at Guantanamo Bay who are out there and witnesses who are in Iraq, whether they’re in the military or Iraqis who dealt with special operations at that time and at that place. I’m sure there’s something there. I’m sure that DeSantis wasn’t just doing nothing and twiddling his thumbs the entire time. Not to say he was actually out on missions. He wasn’t. But what kind of things were coming across his desk or in his tent or whatever saying, oh, we killed these civilians, or, this guy got tortured, or whatever, and what did DeSantis do to paper it over. That’s unknown. But I think based on his past and based on, again, the time and place and the unit, there’s probably more to be discovered, and it’s probably pretty shady.
Maximillian Alvarez: Probably. Again, it’s a real testament to the invaluable work that you’ve done putting together this episode investigating Ron DeSantis’s time at Guantanamo Bay, including an original interview with Mansoor Adayfi, who was imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay for over 14 years without charges, held as an enemy combatant.
Again, everyone should go check out that episode of Eyes Left, which we will link to in the show notes. Please support the great work that Mike does at Eyes Left, that Mike and Abby Martin do at the Empire Files, and support this kind of journalism. Because again, we’re talking about a guy who many are betting on to be the Republican presidential front-runner in two years. Yet we are talking about these revelations that have managed to avoid public scrutiny for a decade and a half. We need to know about this stuff if you’re trying to make sense of what DeSantis is as a political figure and what his ideology is, what his political plans are and his way of operating is. This is really important information to have, and more people need to have it if they’re going to make an informed decision moving forward.
Mike, I just wanted to thank you again for all the great work that you do, and thank you for coming on and joining us at The Real News, man. I really appreciate it.
Mike Prysner: Appreciate you having me.
Maximillian Alvarez: So that is Mike Prysner, an Iraq War veteran, co-writer and producer of the Empire Files and host of Eyes Left, a socialist anti-war military podcast. Go check it out. Go check out this recent episode, follow and support Mike’s work. For everyone here at The Real News Network, this is Maximillian Alvarez signing off. Before you go, please head on over to therealnews.com/support. Become a monthly sustainer of our work so we can keep bringing you all important coverage and conversations just like this.