Wanted: a credentialed judge or prosecutor to file legal charges at the International Criminal Court against Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions for Crimes Against Humanity for their “zero tolerance policy” towards would-be immigrants and asylum seekers.
Somewhere there must be someone who wants to be the next Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish magistrate judge-prosecutor who indicted Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
The crimes of General Pinochet included systematic use of torture and summary executions of literally thousands of people.
The crimes of President Trump and Attorney General Sessions are less deadly than those of the Chilean mass-murderer. But they are similar in 2 important respects: the declarative cruelty of the tactics, and the definitude of the strategic goal: to force a permanent change in behavior on their victims.
In Chile, the message behind the disappearances and slaughters, the tortures and the unending oppressive surveillance was simple: you must submit to tyranny.
On America’s southern border the message in the President’s venomous rhetoric, the AG’s indiscriminate criminal prosecutions, and especially in the separation, and in the case of siblings, frequently dispersal, of human families is also simple: you must stay away from the USA.
Even some folks who support the message have been appalled at how it’s been delivered. As you hear the details of what the “zero tolerance policy did, and how it did it, ask yourself, isn’t this exactly what the principle of “crimes against humanity” was invented to punish and deter?
Here’s the best thing about “zero tolerance:” it was a policy so ill-conceived and so badly executed that it look only 6 weeks or so for the whole system to cough, choke and shut down. And this was happening well before the President reversed himself on the separation of families.
And before he proposed depriving arrested border crossers of all their rights to “send them the Hell home” faster and cheaper than the legal way. In the context of what his other policies have done, this Tweeted out proposition isn’t so much a crime against humanity as a misdemeanor, like the act of illegally crossing the American border for the first time.
Who in history has ever considered a misdemeanor as a justification for crimes against humanity?
Our guest, reporter and editor Zoe Carpenter of The Nation, witnessed the inhumanity Trump and Sessions tried to systemize – the forced separation of parents from children…and the conditions in which frightened juveniles were confined…and she’s followed the story as a confused and demoralized Federal bureaucracy tries to respond to a series of executive course changes, including the order to reverse engines on separations and reunite families gratuitously torn apart.
Zoë Carpenter is The Nation’s associate Washington editor. She worked previously for Rolling Stone, and has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, and other media outlets. In her own words: I’m a writer and musician living in Washington DC, and an editor at The Nation. I often write about health, environmental issues, and inequality, but I’m generally interested in reported narratives about complicated people and places. I’ve reported on the ground in more than a dozen states, and for various publications including Rolling Stone, Narratively, and Guernica. My cover story for The Nation on race and infant mortality won the 2018 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism.
I also play music—mainly blues, roots, and country—with the bands Bearcat Wildcat and Tillamook Burn. I’ve performed at the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival, the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival, the Kingman Island Bluegrass & Folk Festival, the Down East Folk Arts Festival, and at venues in England, France, and the Netherlands. The Huffington Post once called me “amazingly talented… a soulful singer and an impressive guitarist,” though you can’t trust the liberal media.