In the autumn of 2011, the crime drama Person of Interest debuted on North American network television. The plot centers on a reclusive software billionaire and a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent who collaborate to wage a campaign of vigilante justice on the streets of New York City. What is unique about the premise is that their vigilantism is explicitly pre-emptive in nature. Using a sophisticated computer program that uses “pattern recognition” algorithms and “state-of-the-art surveillance technology” to “identify people about to be involved in violent crimes,” the pair “works outside of the law to … stop crime before it happens” (CBS, n.d.). According to the show’s backstory, the computer program was initially designed to collect and collate detailed surveillance data for the purpose of preventing another 9/11-style terrorist attack; however, it is discovered that its predictive capacities can also be applied to instances of more conventional violent crime. This leads its creator to recruit an ex-CIA partner to act on this information and prevent the impending violent incidents from taking place. Through this narrative, Person of Interest casts the idea of pre-emption as something of a panacea for security problems, as the viewer is induced to accept the legitimacy of the protagonists’ anticipatory vigilantism – despite its clear transgression of the rule of law and its basis on unverifiable information obtained through highly intrusive measures – precisely because it is able to prevent crimes before they occur. In other words, the series offers an understanding of (in)security governance in which a traditional reactive strategy of responding to incidents that have already occurred is inadequate, while a future-oriented strategy of responding pre-emptively to incidents that have not yet occurred is the ideal. It is thus fitting that Person of Interest premiered within days of the tenth

anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, since its narrative quite accurately reflects a dominant way of thinking about global security in the post-9/11 era. Indeed, perhaps the most notable development in this area has been the proliferation of strategies premised upon what can be called a “logic of pre-emption” (Anderson, 2010, p. 790; Massumi, 2007, p. 9). Under such strategies, anticipatory interventions are undertaken in the present for the purpose of

protecting against potentially catastrophic dangers located in the unknown – and ultimately unknowable – future (Anderson, 2010, pp. 227-235). This inflects the global politics of (in)security with an explicitly temporal component, since the fundamental imperative is to “police the future by anticipation” through the anticipatory exercise of political power in the present (Bigo, 2007, p. 31). In this sense, the very idea of “security” itself is (re)conceptualized through a temporal rather than spatial lens, as it is identified with successfully acting on the future in precisely this way. Of course, the idea of “security” has always been infused with a funda-

mentally temporal element. As Foucault reminds us, “the specific space of security refers then to a series of possible events … to the temporal and the uncertain” (Foucault, 2007, p. 20). It is thus important not to overstate the novelty of the future-oriented, anticipatory turn in the post-9/11 global governance of (in)security. However, a burgeoning scholarly literature has identified and taken an analytical interest in this trend, as illustrated by the extensive work in critical security studies that documents and theorizes the proliferation of risk-based strategies and pre-emptive rationalities in the global “war on terror” (de Goede and Randalls, 2009, pp. 859-878). This suggests that the emergent “temporalization” of global security constitutes a distinct phenomenon, and that its constitutive practices diverge from other security rationalities in important ways that require critical attention. It is in this context that this chapter can be situated, as it is concerned with

further unpacking what is at stake in the ongoing shift from primarily spatialized to more temporalized understandings of global security, and the concomitant move from reactive to pre-emptive modes of governance in this context. This chapter thus seeks to develop a conceptual critique of such practices, which I collectively term “pre-emptive security” (Sullivan and Hayes, 2010; de Goede, 2008, pp. 161-185).1 Given the widespread proliferation of anticipatory approaches to (inter)national security problems, understanding the latter is key to any account of the evolving security dynamics of contemporary globalization. Moreover, the overtly temporal character of such anticipatory action, combined with the global scope of the ongoing “war on terror,” suggests that the politics of pre-emptive security represents a crucial point at which the intersection of time and globalization is made manifest in the contemporary context, particularly as it relates to changes in the conduct of warfare. It is in this capacity that the present chapter speaks most directly to the wider concerns of this volume. The remainder of this chapter will proceed in three sections. The first

develops a detailed account of how the logic of pre-emption is manifested in the context of post-9/11 global (in)security governance, offering a critical exploration of precisely what pre-emptive security can be understood to mean in the present context. The second section considers what is politically at stake with the proliferation of pre-emptive security strategies and tactics. Here it is argued that the logic of pre-emption prioritizes the role of imagination in political decision making, which implies a potentially radical shift in the way

political power is exercised. In particular, since it significantly enhances the discretionary authority of state decision makers, I argue that there is an originary conceptual link between the logic of pre-emption and a politics of exceptionalism, in which the rule of law and associated limits on executive power are undermined. The third section builds on these arguments, contending that they raise serious questions about the democratic legitimacy of pre-emptive security strategies. It is then also argued that the very notion of pre-emptive security itself can be seen as conceptually incoherent, since its constitutive temporalities compromise its capacity to deliver “security” as conceived under its own normative framework. Instead, it can be seen to construct the present – which is where any experience of security must occur – as inherently insecure by merely replacing the type of subjective precarity that it is premised upon mitigating with another. I conclude with a brief reflection on the continued prominence of pre-emptive security strategies – particularly among liberal democratic polities – despite a decade and a half having passed since the 9/11 attacks that precipitated the (re-)emergence of pre-emption, and the significant conceptual and political problems highlighted in the chapter’s analysis.