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Obama's presidency, 2011-2012

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The Royal Wedding's Pre-Crime Arrests

By Coleen Rowley
May 1, 2011

Editor’s Note: The Tom Cruise movie, “Minority Report,” depicted a future world that relied on oracles to future murders so police could intervene and lock away the predicted killers.

Increasingly, governments have opted for similar approaches in face of expected political disruptions, moving against protesters before they get to protest, a tactic used prior to the British royal wedding, as former FBI agent Coleen Rowley notes in this guest essay:

Pre-emptive wars and pre-emptive policing have been instituted as a result of the fear planted (and deliberately hyped) in the "war on terror."

What would old FDR say about the dangers of fear? Is this how the "terrorists" win, by getting people so fearful and stupid that we terrorize ourselves? That's more or less what FDR worried about.   

One hundred or so activists were arrested before last week’s British royal wedding on "PRE-crime" charges. Street-theatre actors and critics of the royal family were rounded up ahead of time because they said they wanted to use the occasion to demonstrate their disapproval of the monarchy. [See this interview with one of those arrested.]  

Notice the double standard going on when the U.S. Supreme Court says it’s alright for nut fundamentalists to yell at (commoners’) military funerals but police are allowed to round up commoner activists in advance of national special security events or royal weddings.   

This is a funny example but there are many more serious examples of “PRE-emptive policing” including the FBI’s investigation of anti-war activists in Minneapolis and Chicago and the pre-emptive arrests and charging of the “RNC 8” as “terrorists” in advance of the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul. 

If more people don't get involved and disapprove of the direction we’re headed in – with this notion of pre-emptive policing – we're bound to get more and more of a police state.

One way – maybe the most effective way – of exposing the emergence of a police state is through effective satire. 

Coleen Rowley, a FBI special agent for almost 24 years, was legal counsel to the FBI Field Office in Minneapolis from 1990 to 2003. She wrote a "whistleblower" memo in May 2002 and testified to the Senate Judiciary on some of the FBI's pre 9-11 failures. She retired at the end of 2004, and now writes and speaks on ethical decision-making and balancing civil liberties with the need for effective investigation.

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