Earlier a friend emailed me a link to a lovely headline about so-called precognitive policing — “Police Program Aims to Pinpoint Those Most Likely to Commit Crimes“:

Mr. Brown, whose criminal record includes drug and assault charges, is at the center of an experiment taking place in dozens of police departments across the country, one in which the authorities have turned to complex computer algorithms to try to pinpoint the people most likely to be involved in future violent crimes — as either predator or prey. The goal is to do all they can to prevent the crime from happening.

The strategy, known as predictive policing, combines elements of traditional policing, like increased attention to crime “hot spots” and close monitoring of recent parolees. But it often also uses other data, including information about friendships, social media activity and drug use, to identify “hot people” and aid the authorities in forecasting crime.

Many people would say, “Fine! At last, a way to stop criminals before they commit crimes.”

But what is crime?

Tha answer, increasingly, is “Everything”:

The Criminalization of Almost Everything“:

An average, busy professional gets up in the morning, gets the kids to school, goes to work, uses the telephone or e-mail, has meetings, works on a prospectus or bank loan, goes home, puts the kids to bed, has dinner, reads the newspaper, goes to sleep, and has no idea that, in the course of that day, he or she has very likely committed three felonies. Three felonies that some ambitious, creative prosecutor can pick out from that day’s activities and put into an indictment.

In his foreword to my book, Alan Dershowitz discusses his time litigating cases in the old Soviet Union. He was always taken by the fact that they could prosecute anybody they wanted because some of the statutes were so vague. Dershowitz points out that this was a technique developed by Beria, the infamous sidekick of Stalin, who said, “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.” That really is something that has survived the Soviet Union and has arrived in the good old USA. “Show me the man,” says any federal prosecutor, “and I can show you the crime.” This is not an exaggeration.

Unfortunately, it is not. In the name of the war on drugs, the Fourth Amendment has been systematically shredded for decades. Prosecutors and police have for years been able to do pretty much whatever they wanted, and after 9/11 the piecemeal bleeding of constitutional freedoms became a legally sanctioned hemorrhage. There is no longer financial privacy, medical privacy, nor online privacy.

Citizens are sitting ducks.

While the Constitution wasn’t supposed to be a joke, if you talk about it in a serious manner, you will be laughed at. Trust me. I’ve tried.

UPDATE: Many thanks to Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit for the link! Welcome all!