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Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Inside the DeSantis Doc That Showtime Didn’t Want You to See

Roger Sollenberger
The Daily Beast
Originally posted 23 July 23

Here are two excerpts:

The documentary contrasts DeSantis’ account with those of two anonymous ex-prisoners, whom the transcript indicated were not represented in the flesh; their claims were delivered in “voice notes.”

“Officer DeSantis was one of the officers who oversaw the force-feeding and torture we were subjected to in 2006,” one former prisoner said. The second former detainee claimed that DeSantis was “one of the officers who mistreated us,” adding that DeSantis was “a bad person” and “a very bad officer.”

Over a view of “Camp X-Ray”—the now-abandoned section of Gitmo where DeSantis was stationed but has since fallen into disrepair—the narrator revealed that a VICE freedom of information request for the Florida governor’s active duty record returned “little about Guantanamo” outside of his arrival in March 2006.

But as the documentary noted, that period was “a brutal point in the prison’s history.”

Detainees had been on a prolonged hunger strike to call attention to their treatment, and the government’s solution was to force-feed prisoners Ensure dietary supplements through tubes placed in their noses. Detainees alleged the process caused excessive bleeding and was repeated “until they vomited and defecated on themselves.” (DeSantis, a legal adviser, would almost certainly have been aware that the UN concluded that force-feeding amounted to torture the month before he started working at Guantanamo.)


The transcript then presented DeSantis’ own 2018 account of his role in the forced-feedings, when he told CBS News Miami that he had personally and professionally endorsed force-feeding as a legal way to break prisoner hunger strikes.

“The commander wants to know, well how do I combat this? So one of the jobs as a legal adviser will be like, ‘Hey, you actually can force feed, here’s what you can do, here’s kinda the rules of that,’” DeSantis said at the time.

DeSantis altered that language in a Piers Morgan interview this March, again invoking his junior rank as evidence that he would have lacked standing to order forced-feeding.

“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,” he said. However, DeSantis did not deny that he had provided that legal advice.

My thoughts:

I would like the see the documentary and make my own decision about its veracity.
  • The decision by Showtime to pull the episode is a significant one, as it suggests that the network is willing to censor its programming in order to avoid political controversy.
  • This is a worrying development, as it raises questions about the future of independent journalism in the United States.
  • If news organizations are afraid to air stories that are critical of powerful figures, then it will be much more difficult for the public to hold those figures accountable.
  • I hope that Showtime will reconsider its decision and allow the episode to air. The public has a right to know about the allegations against DeSantis, and it is important that these allegations be given a fair hearing.