“Minority Report” and Civil Liberties

minority-report

Remember the Tom Cruise movie “Minority Report” released in 2002? Sure it seemed liked science fiction at the time.

Washington D. C. is virtually crime free in the year 2054 due to the effectiveness of the “Pre-Crime Unit”. This unit arrests and jails individuals before they even commit the crime thus sparing society from the scourge of lawlessness.

How is it determined who will commit a crime in the future? A crime that hasn’t happened yet?

Why the “pre-cogs”- pre-cognitives provide the names of future criminals. The pre-cogs are three gifted humans who can see the future, give the information to the Pre-Crime Unit so that hero Tom can go out and sweep these pre-criminals off the street..

Being a pre-criminal can make jury trials and those pesky constitutional issues a major annoyance. After all, no crime has a yet been committed so the system can’t exactly charge the perp with any wrong-doing. There may be some circumstantial evidence of a pre-crime but maybe not.

The system can be made to work however if the “people” can be convinced that the pre-cogs are always right and that their information is the only accusation needed. No one has to actually see the pre-cogs or their information. Pre-cogs are only seen by a select few in the government.  The people need only believe that the pre-cogs exist, their information is received and interpreted by those we can trust and the information is always correct. No other evidence is needed.

Thereafter, in the name of public safety, the “people” support sweeping the pre-perps off the streets.

Silly eh?

Last year US Attorney General Eric Holder reiterated the administration’s support for their controversial program of secretly targeting US citizens for execution without notifying them of the accusations against them, officially charging them with a crime or offering them the opportunity to respond. Since the whole world is a battlefield in the vague ‘war on terror,’ the only due process afforded to someone who has been targeted for extrajudicial execution is a secret ‘review’ by the executive branch.

A. G. Holder and the “Justice” Department had consistently refused to release the legal memoranda outlining the basis for this “due process”

As Glenn Greenwald put it:  “the ‘process’ which Eric Holder argued constitutes “due process” as required by the Fifth Amendment before the government can deprive someone of their life: the President and his underlings are your accuser, your judge, your jury and your executioner all wrapped up in one, acting in total secrecy and without your even knowing that he’s accused you and sentenced you to death, and you have no opportunity even to know about, let alone confront and address, his accusations.

The Administration has argued it has the legal right to use drone strikes within the borders of the United States against American citizens under “extraordinary circumstances”, such circumstances as yet undefined to congress, the courts or the public. I guess the President has the sole power to define “extraordinary”.

The government of the United States has killed American citizens far from the battlefield essentially arguing that the “pre-cogs”, had predicted that this individual was going to do bad things or had actually done bad things. These individuals have been killed without charges or evidence in a public forum.

Do we care?  Their guilt was determined and supported by “secret” information gathered by our “secret” intelligence services – like the NSA, who watch everyone, hear and read everything.  We trust them right?  I mean, the guilty were “terrorists” and that made it o.k. to kill them without due process even though they were American citizens and not in a battle zone.

Few if anyone got their hackles up over the killing of Anwar al Aulaqi, the American Iman in Yemen accused of being an Al-Qaeda chieftain (presumably we only kill American citizens who are Al Qaeda agents) although he was killed in a drone strike far from any battlefield, without public charges or due process, a right accorded to any American citizen. Oh well.

But what about the killing of his 16 year old son, born in Denver just two weeks later? Was he an Al Qaeda agent too or just “collateral damage”?

Left unchallenged, this secretive program will continue to expand under Obama and future presidents and further erode America’s most basic principles of justice. Does anyone think that a sitting President ever gives up powers of the Office left to him by previous Presidents? I mean if he can kill you, he can certainly arrest you and hold you in a camp/secret location.

Today, this very day, guys armed with automatic weapons and dressed in kevlar could break down your door and whisk you away under Presidential order without public charges, without the right to face your accuser (the pre-cogs!), without the right to trial,  habeas corpus or judicial due process – all under the umbrella of “protecting Americans” and fighting future “terrorism”. And then they can water board you.  All thanks to Bush the Lesser, Obama and our spineless Congress.

Seems kind of vague to me.

Now one would think that true conservatives would also find such actions unacceptable. Unfortunately I have heard no cries of outrage from Dems or Repubs other than from the likes of Firedoglake, which we all know is one of those “commie, pinko, leftie, librul” slug organizations.

Only Rand Paul filibustered over the issue of using drones on U. S. soil.  At one point he asked “What will be the standard for how we kill Americans in America?”  Good question.

I rarely if ever agree with Paul but even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Conservatives should think back to the “dictatorship of the proletariat” and those nice “re-education” camps. Right wingers are not exempt from identification by the pre-cogs.

In this day and age does anyone NOT believe there are people who would gladly man the watch towers of the camps? That there are people with POWER who would set these camps up and put you in them if they could?

“Oh Toritto! You are being so melodramatic! Nobody is gonna be breaking down my door!”.

I see little difference between a President who claims the authority to sweep you off the street and make you disappear and the divine Tiberias.

Oppression always starts slow.

Whether we like it or not we are in for a further erosion of civil liberties.  This very morning the Sunday talking heads are in panic mode over the possibility of some 70 ISIS fighters holding U.S. passports possibly returning to the U.S.  There might be another backpack bombing somewhere!

We surrendered our rights to a government of war criminals, who promised us certainty and security in a world that offers none. We should have known better, and in fact we did. At the birth of American democracy, Benjamin Franklin summed it up in a single sentence: “Those who would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Reading this may be drawing pre-cog attention your way at this very moment.

 

About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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3 Responses to “Minority Report” and Civil Liberties

  1. Not remotely melodramatic. Prescient, if anything.

    Like

  2. Pingback: “Minority Report” and Civil Liberties | Todd DeanTodd Dean

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