During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump gave full-throated support for resurrecting the Bush administration’s regime of torture for terror detainees. But Trump’s brand of state-sanctioned sadism promised to go much further. Trump warned he would seek reprisals against the kin of suspected terrorists, “because they may not care much about their lives, but they do care, believe it or not, about their families' lives.” When informed during one GOP debate that his approach would force the United States to abandon the Geneva Conventions, Trump complained, “so they can kill us, but we can’t kill them?” The future 45th president of the United States boasted about his plans on Feb. 6, 2016:

“I would bring back waterboarding and I'd bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”

Given that kind of posturing, many fully expected President Trump to resume the torture of detainees by the United States of America. But few could have imagined those detainees would be children. And our national shame is only amplified by Republicans’ defense of the indefensible by redeploying talking points about “summer camps” and “playgrounds” first used to justify the American brutality at “Club Gitmo.”

To be sure, what’s been done to the separated families of undocumented immigrants—many of them asylum-seekers fleeing chaos and carnage in Central America—is tantamount to torture. As Karen Greenberg wrote in late June, “First, there were the most visible signs; above all, the children being placed in wire cages that, as journalists and others who saw them attested, looked more like holding cells for animals at a zoo or dogs at a kennel than for humans, no less children.” But that was only one outward manifestation of the “zero tolerance” policy put in place to ward off those Donald Trump denounced as “animals.”

  • August 12, 2018
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