Sunday, April 29

Jack Keane borrows from science fiction to keep U.S. in Syria forever: Minority Report's pre-crime comes to American defense policy

John M. "Jack" Keane was an American four-star general and former Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army who retired from the military in 2003. He serves on several corporate boards, as Chairman of the Board at the Institute for the Study of War, and as a defense analyst for Fox cable TV news. 

Mr Keane has come up with a rationale for keeping U.S. forces in Syria that is sort of a homage to Philip K. Dick's 1956 science fiction short story, The Minority Report. From a discussion by Colonel Pat Lang (rtd) at Sic Semper Tyrannis on April 26, Neocon Jack Keane wants a permanent U.S.presence in Syria:
On [a Fox cable news] show today Keane pushed for a US policy in Syria that would establish a "security zone" in Syria east of the Euphrates and in the Kurdish areas east of Manbij. He was clear that he believes that this "security zone" should be held indefinitely, in other words, permanently.
Toward the end of his discourse this morning, Keane came to the crux of his argument. He said that a war is coming in which Iran, Hizbullah and the Syrian government will fight Israel and that the US must be in a position in Syria to defend Israel when that happens.
The Colonel assesses that Keane and now President Trump are in accord with a "Zionist fear" of Israel being encircled by Gentile (read "European") -supported Muslims in the region. 

Whatever Keane's motive, his plan for keeping the U.S. in Syria permanently is ripped from the pages of The Minority Report -- unless he got the idea from watching Pre-Crime, a 2018 documentary from Copenhagen that examines real-life policing techniques based on the 'pre-crime' idea created by Dick for his story. 

Pre-crime amounts to arresting a person to prevent him from committing a crime maybe sometime in the future. 

Those who read Dick's work of fiction, or saw the 2002 film loosely based on it, know it's a small group of not entirely infallible clairvoyants who determine that a person will commit a crime. The upshot as explained by Anderton, the head of the pre-crime agency in Minority Report:
"... in our society, we have no major crimes but we do have a detention camp full of would-be criminals."
Just so, Keane -- who has no credentials whatsoever as a clairvoyant -- has determined that to ward off a war that might never be mounted against Israel, the U.S. military must remain in Syria from now until -- well, until a majority of Americans get tired of a supporting a defense policy increasingly based on assuaging fears of foreign governments that they might be invaded by another country.

The (U.K.) Independent's April 5 discussion of the Pre-Crime documentary is a window on where such fears are leading:
... The film captures an increasingly monitored world in which every step, action and transaction can, and often is, being monitored. “Why sit and drink cold coffee in a hot car when you can just track them on their phone?” one official says of modern-day surveillance.

The widespread monitoring doesn’t stop just at phones and location sharing apparently. The film even makes suggestions that in America they are in the stages of assembling a scoring system for individual citizens, such as the proposed Social Credit System in China or also literally the 2016 episode of Black Mirror, ‘Nosedive’.

In Chicago, an algorithm has been created to predict its inhabitants’ potential involvement with violent crime, which creates a Strategic Subject List - known colloquially as the “heat list” - a comprehensive list of who it considers to be the most dangerous people in the city.
England is active in pre-crime too, with a predictive policing software known as PredPol being employed to predict areas where crimes may take place in order to deploy more officers to that area.

Perhaps using data in order to identify crime hot spots and assign more police to those areas sounds like good, solid, preventative police work but, as the film explores, there are drawbacks.
It is suggested that such pre-crime techniques can lead to major profiling, which reinforces pre-existing profiling issues such as race and socioeconomic status. For example, a young black man living in a certain postcode in Tottenham could be enough to align them with gang activity, despite any active involvement.
Even association with someone who has committed or been the victim of a crime is enough to be detected, as Robert McDaniel found out when police officers turned up to his door warning him he was being watched and was on the “heat list”.
McDaniel had never committed a violent crime, his only vices being smoking some weed and playing a little dice. And yet, he was deemed one of the most dangerous people in the city via this algorithm, which critics have used as an example of increased racial profiling by police.
The documentary goes back and forth between critics and advocates of pre-crime techniques, exploring areas such as guilt by association and the idea of reversing the longstanding stance of innocent until proven guilty into presumed guilt.
Regardless of the varying stances on pre-crime captured, the film’s overall message is that this is no longer a sci-fi-like vision of the future but is already here and in use. Although as worryingly pointed out by one critic of this algorithmic and unpredictable future, “code has no conscience.”
Code without conscience evokes the nightmarish fiction of Franz Kafka's The Trial, which is --
... the story of a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime revealed neither to him nor to the reader.
That is the fate an American former four-general would envision for millions of Syrians if he had the capacity to think of them as human.

And that would be the fate of civilization, which cannot survive on the complete inversion of justice.


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