Minority Report Has Finally Arrived

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Read it and weep:  “Memo Cites Legal Basis for Killing U.S. Citizen in Al Qaeda.”

As a U.S. citizen, the government can now kill you in advance of your actually committing a crime – simply by knowing that you are likely to act in a dangerous manner.

For now, the only club whose membership can earn you such a “pre-crime-sentence” is al-Qaeda, but how many dangerous organizations (you tell me where to put the sarcastic quotation marks on that phrase) will be added to this list in the years and decades ahead?

Ask yourself that, Mr. Obama.

Naturally we are assured such killings will only happen outside of these United States, but you just know that rule will be broken eventually.

The coolest part? Just like in the movie, we’ve already got the drones to hunt you down and kill you remotely. Actually, even Spielberg’s movie didn’t go that far, so here we’d need to switch over to The Matrix.

This is an extremely dangerous rule-set for America to be exporting around the world: threaten or scare of just plain piss off the wrong great-power government, and it reserves the right to assassinate you at will.  The quid pro quos are easy to imagine:  you, China, turn your back when we need to kill ours and . . . America can probably do the same when you take out those “protestors” (I mean, terrorists!).

I just have to ask: how does Obama lecture Netanyahu about anything at this point?

The further we go with this President’s two terms, the more quaint and 20th century his predecessor seems. George W. Bush’s approach, as ham-handed as it was, at least came with some built-in limitations (e.g., you can only invade so many countries before the U.S. public has had enough, and those Gitmo prisoners do see a lawyer prior to sentencing).

Obama’s approach, in contrast, is about as open-ended as it comes. Yes, he’s right-sized Bush’s pre-emptive war in the form of pre-emptive assassinations, and now he’s extended that pre-crime-sentencing capacity to American citizens — wherever they dare to roam.

Guess which presidential doctrine poses the greatest long-term threat to our democracy?

The timing on this memo is priceless, coming as it does right on the heels of announced plans for comprehensive gun control. The NRA ads write themselves:  “Obama reserves the right to assassinate American citizens at will . . . but he’d really rather seize your scariest guns first!”

Spielberg’s movie has now officially passed Blade Runner as the best dystopian capture of the future: Blade Runner‘s future Los Angeles is just around the bend (2019!), and we’re nowhere close to having robots pass as humans or flying cars. Meanwhile, The Minority Report‘s combination of mid-21st-century affluence, buttressed by the love and care of a pre-emptive war-waging police state, is already here.