Liberty > Security
R1: Introduction and Framework
R2: Arguments and Rebuttals
R3: Rebuttals and Closing Statements
This debate will be over the premise faced by Hobbes and Locke several centuries ago. Should the national government protect our security first and ensure our liberty second, or the converse?
No semantics or forfeited rounds.
I await my challenger...
Hello, I would be interested in accepting this debate. To avoid confusion, however, I would like to make clear that I do not personally believe that what are generally considered traditional "governments" are the best way to achieve either liberty or security, but I do believe as a principle that security is far more valuable than liberty and should be the higher priority in any social system. Insofar that governments are the de-facto or "legitimate" social system in place, then it should be the priority of said system to focus more on security than liberty, and such priority would be internally consistent with the stated principles or supposed legitimacy of said government.
Also, this doesn't mean I will necessarily be defending things like the NSA spying scandal, as I would argue that such measures threaten both liberty and security (I define "security" as defense against both foreign and domestic threats.) And to avoid devolving into a semantic debate as you mentioned in the instructions, I think it would be helpful to define exactly what we mean by "liberty" and "security" to avoid confusion. I would define "liberty" as simply the freedom to do as much as possible without attacks on that freedom, along similar classical "negative rights." I would define "security" as having the most defense or protection necessary or possible to ensure against attacks on your freedom, along similar classical "positive rights."
As dictionary.com defines security:
1. freedom from danger, risk, etc.; safety.
2. precautions taken to guard against crime, attack, sabotage,
1. freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control.
2. freedom from external or foreign rule; independence.
Obviously I consider liberty and security to be intertwined, but I would argue that security is the much higher priority as I consider it a *prerequisite* for liberty. So I would be willing to argue these principles along either governmental or non-governmental lines. Let me know if these would be acceptable terms for a debate.
Also, if possible I think it is best to keep our responses (and I will try my best to do so myself) succinct and to the point to avoid getting off topic or being too verbose. Many debates I've seen here exhibit this problem.
I agree with your definitions!
My arguments will be concerning the United States, as this seems to be where this debate is raging with the most controversy and vigor.
C1: Unconstitutional: Violating Civil Liberties in the name of Security
The Constitution authorizes the federal government to perform several specific and enumerated powers. Among these, one of the primary roles of the federal government is to “provide for the common defense [of these states]”. In order to ensure our national defense, the federal government can undertake an assortment of actions, which are prescribed in detail in this document.
Presenting the American people with either anarchy or a totalitarian state is a false dichotomy. The Constitution is crafted in a way that establishes a balance between both liberty and security, while emphasizing the former before the latter.
The latter sentence can be supported simply by quoting the founders of our country. Patrick Henry once said that, “The Constitution… is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.”  Liberty means legal constitutional protections against the government, and therefore, we can conclude that the founders intended the Constitution to emphasize liberty over security.
The Supreme Court has also ruled in a wide assortment of cases to uphold the resolution. The Supreme Court has the indirect power of judicial review, as established in Marbury v. Madison. Judicial Review allows the Supreme Court to evaluate the acts of the Congress and the Executive Branch and determine if these acts are constitutional. If the acts are not constitutional, they are not legally authorized. 
I will detail some court decisions. The Supreme Court has ruled that (1) suspects have specific constitutional rights  (2) detainees have a right to challenge their detention before a judge or other neutral decision maker , and (3) “The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. 
English writer G.K. Chesterton once famously observed, “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.”
Therefore, America is a unique nation. We are the first country in the world’s history to believe that government power is derived from the just consent of the governed. This is epitomized in the several foundational documents, such as Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and the Declaration of Independence. Indeed, in the latter composition, the logical foundation for America’s government was prescribed, and its main priority was listed as protecting the people’s inherent individual liberties. 
These arguments contain a crucial implication. If America abandons its logical foundation, and violates the Constitution, we will have lost the contractual base for our government. Consequently, the government will lose all the chains on its power, and we will spiral into a totalitarian state. There would be little check on this power, as the very nature and limits of our government will have been abandoned. People may claim that we would just throw out their Congressmen. This is not likely. Unpopular legislation, such as the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without a trial, has been passed by overwhelming majorities in Congress , and yet, incumbents are reelected the vast majority of the time. 
The idea that the federal government ought to defend security at the expense of our civil liberties is not just flawed, but is unnecessary.
True, approximately 3,000 Americans were slaughtered in the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks in 2001. However, is the terrorist threat as a whole grave enough to scrap the very foundation of our nation?
Based on the empirical evidence, the statistics indicate that the annual fatality risk from terrorism (in the last five years) is 1 in 20,000,000.  For home appliances, the annual fatality risk is 1 in 1,500,000. For bathtub drowning’s, it is 1 in 950,000. 
Is it logical to spend a trillion dollars  and to throw away our civil liberties to be slightly safer from terrorism? If indeed someone were to agree with this claim, we would logically have to spend a trillion dollars and throw away our civil liberties to be slightly safer from bathtubs.
The evidence that is available also supports the resolution.
A public policy group says that a review of U.S. terrorist arrests shows that the government’s collection of bulk phone records does little to prevent terrorism. 
Furthermore, a nonprofit think tank analyzed cases involving 225 terrorists recruited by al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups in the U.S. The majority of information was derived from “informants, tips from local communities, and targeted intelligence operations, [not related to the NSA or its associated agencies.” 
The government’s operations, which have targeted terrorist groups and individuals, has failed to significantly reduce terrorism. There is literally no correlation between the War on Terror and increased safety. 
The nature of America’s government was prescribed by the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Our nation is exceptional because we as a people have remained committed to preserving our liberty before our security, and our people support this notion by an overwhelming majority. 
The Constitution allows a balance between liberty and security, while upholding the former above the latter. There are legal channels through which we can preserve our national defense, and we currently effectively do so.
The programs initiated in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks have been ineffective, extremely costly in the terms of lives lost and the trillion dollars wasted, and the violated liberties that are to show for it.
*Sources shown in comments*
I agree with most of your specific policy positions, but I will argue why I do not believe they support your case:
1. National Defense and Security
"The Constitution authorizes the federal government....to "provide for the common defense [of these states]."
It sounds like you have stated from the beginning that a necessary precondition for the establishment of any governmental agent designed to protect liberty is a national defense force to secure the land said government administers, as well as clear it of any entities with might threaten liberties or the authority of the government intended to protect it. If no such entities exist, then there is ostensibly no purpose for the government.
This is to say that if you agree security is a required precondition for the original inception of liberty, then you must acknowledge that the foremost priority of government is to provide the minimum security necessary for liberty to exist. Furthermore, the obligation to obey and defer to the authority of a national defense force (or protection), as well as the obligation to fund it with taxes and lives during war, as well as the entitlement of protection received from it, all fall squarely under the sphere of positive rights.
If we agree that security is a priority and precondition for liberty, then the next step is to discern what relative "amount" should be in place for a functioning society to work. Liberty and security are intertwined, and as you said "a false dichotomy," which brings me to the next point.....
2. Anarchy vs. Totalitarianism
"Presenting the American people with either anarchy or a totalitarian state is a false dichotomy."
Anarchy and totalitarianism are two options presented on either extreme of the spectrum, with a baker's dozen of other possibilities lying somewhere in between; what you are offering (whether it be a minimalist state, decentralized government, "correct" balance in a Constitutional republic as envisioned by the Founders, what have you) lies somewhere in the spectrum closer to either one end or the other. If you're offering the most basic government that creates the greatest amount of freedom conceivably possible without degenerating into some sort of tyranny in chaos, then you are in effect offering total anarchy, or at least the only form of it possible. If you are offering something more secure than that, then you are arguing my case even stronger than I am.
A state of anarchy or freedom needs to be preserved from attack, as we have never lived in a world where pure freedom has ever been the norm. The only task then as far as I can tell, for the government is to provide the minimum security necessary for liberty to flourish. This isn't just the highest priority and most important function of government, but the *only* function of government.
3. Separation of Powers, Judicial Review, and Corruption
"The Supreme Court has the indirect power of judicial review....to evaluate the acts of the Congress and the Executive Branch....if the acts are not constitutional, they are not legally authorized. "
A government that can grant rights can just as easily take them away, and only acts to serve the interests of those who control control it. The Constitution does not provide any more natural constraint on itself than any other instrument of government, and only means what the men given the power to interpret desire it to mean. Freedoms delineated in a written document become as meaningless as the paper it's written on without the security of protection needed to back it up.
The interpretation of the Constitution and the American legal system are based in the common law, originally based on the English common law (1). This is evidenced by the fact that some Constitutional freedoms, such as freedom of speech, were interpreted based on English customs and local jurisprudence in the colonies regarding "prior restraint," which allowed freedom of speech but prohibited certain forms of sedition (2). This continued to during and after the Revolutionary War, leading of course to the Alien and Sedition Act, and since that time freedom of speech regarding sedition has been expanded as the common law has evolved (3).
The common law and the judges who interpret it are susceptible to the needs of utility and pragmatism required to carry out efficient justice in varying situations, as well as changes in values, customs, and demographics over time, politics and the selective biases of their beliefs and interpretation, and of most importantly of all, money (4). It's absurd to think that rights can be granted from above, authority, or that the law is its own constraint when select men are given the power to create it. If you believe that the current separation of branches and the Supreme Court act has any natural constraint on the limits of Constitutional interpretation, just look at how its interpretation and the laws that surround it have changed over the past 200 years in response to specific case law (5).
I advocate for a system of security to protect against authority in the first place, built from the *ground up* wherein the people are endowed with the ability to protect themselves rather than letting the elevated authority act as its own watchdog and benefactor of security, a role that it has routinely failed to fulfill. As I have previously outlined, until that security exists, there's no reason think any freedom will be created and we're just going to keep having this same conversation, which brings us to the next point:
4. The Failure of the War on Terror
I would take what you're saying even further; it's hard to imagine how the prolonged war on terror and various governmental counterterrrorism measures have made us more "secure," given their own findings as described in the National Intelligence Estimate (a consensus view from 16 spy agencies) that the it has directly led to the growth of worldwide terrorist groups (6). Not to mention that the average Americans is very much more insecure in a world where torture, extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention without trial, warantless wiretapping has become more common than when it started, and is now faced with whatever threat the terrorism originally posed now coupled with whatever threat posed against our civil liberties. If all wasted public resources were invested in other projects such as defense rather than preemptive strike, or diplomacy and economic development rather than war, it's hard to believe we'd be in less secure than we are in now.
But since we agree on this point, I'm going get back to the bottom line: what possible reason do we have to believe that these actions from unaccountable governmental agencies are going to do anything different than what they've continually done so in the past, and do so currently, unless some form of protection is built in to prevent it from occurring? We can change, restructure, or alter government, but as you already mentioned the leaders we have do not represent the people, and electing politicians seems futile when politicians are the ones who have created the policies. As I have elaborated on earlier, the Constitution does not serve as its own protection when these very same leaders are the ones who are in charge of interpreting it.
I guess I just don't understand how the argument can be made that building greater security into the system to protect against such authority and abuses of power (that we agree make us less secure) and protect freedom would result in anything less than greater levels of both security and freedom, or that negative rights take precedence when positive rights are necessary for negative rights to exist. As you've already said, the current practices taken by these agencies are blatantly illegal, and yet they've continued to happen without any consequence, nobody's been prosecuted for it, and no one responsible for it has gone to jail (7)
(sources in comments)
America's political foundation was conveyed precisely in the Declaration of Independence, which signaled two axioms  about the purpose of government:
(1) All humans have natural liberty, and this freedom may not be infringed upon without his or her consent;
(2) People's unalieanable rights are inherent within individuals.
The Constitution adhered to this fundamental principles. By crafting a government with numerous internal restraints, this founding document solidified the structure of America's federalist government.
Why does this matter though?
The Constitution, through its elaborate framework, ensured that the two aforementioned axioms in the Declaration of Independence could not be constrained (through a legal standpoint).
Therefore, the American government's purpose was to secure the people's rights — not to ensure maximum security.
What if my opponent was right — that the government ought to preserve security above our liberty? If this idea was true, we would expect the Constitution to grant the federal government liberal and nearly unlimited powers in the name of "preserving national security".
We can see from the words our founders spoke to disprove this notion:
"Standing armies are... at most, problematical and uncertain." — Alexander Hamilton 
"Standing armies... have always been the instruments of tyranny at home." — James Madison 
"A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country." — James Madison 
"Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion in private self defense." — John Adams 
Governmental policy, whether it be unauthorized wiretapping of telephones, a standing military, domestic torture and indefinite detention... could all be argued to increase our national defense (even though I've disproved this in the previous round).
Since the Constitution has outlawed measures that would potentially trade some liberty for additional security, we can come to the conclusion that the Constitution, while ensuring national security, upholds liberty as the greatest aspiration of all individuals.
In fact, by guaranteeing the right to bear arms, the government essentially upholds liberty above security to ensure security. In other words, people protect themselves by having the freedom to bear firearms.
R2: Anarchy v. Totalitarianism
"[Pro] is offering a basic government that creates the greatest amount of freedom conceivably possible... [which is] in effect offering total anarchy."
Con this conclusion — is just not true.
A limited government can protect a nation's defense better than a lawless, anarchist society. A limited government, for instance, could raise a militia and a navy to protect the nation's borders.
"The only task then as far as I can tell, for the government is to provide the minimum security necessary for liberty to flourish."
I'd agree. However, with the government protecting the people's liberty, what is emphasized? Security where the government clamps down on private life in order to "maximize" the idea of security? Or liberty where people are free to live their lives, and pursue their greatest dreams and aspirations?
Since liberty would be more prevalent — and should be according to the Constitution — liberty would be a more important value than security.
"The Constitution does not provide any more natural constraint on itself."
This claim is false. There are wide ranging checks within America's government. If Obama had unlimited powers to wage war, we probably would have entered the Syrian conflict.
The only reason the Constitution seems more ineffective is because people are becoming more liberal with their interpretations to justify their policies. We, as I've advocated, must use original intent to determine constitutionality of a governmental action.
This simple graphic is the most concise, and the Constitution  verifies all of these measures.
"Law is constantly changing, in response to many factors."
Just because the law changes, doesn't mean the Constitution does.
Why does this document — which is over two centuries old — matter? The reason is because it protects the rights of American citizens, and authorizes governmental activity in a way that limits governmental intrusion in our private lives.
If we start making exceptions and becoming liberal in our interpretation, the system falls apart. The government could mandate universal, compulsory military service in the name of "national defense", even though this essentially enslaves a society. The government could subsidize favorited businesses in the name of the "public good", even though the minority gains at the public's expense.
Using a strict interpretation of the Constitution and its enumerated powers is the only way to operate a limited government that protect's the people's rights and ensures their liberty.
Con also didn't refute my analysis in R2 which argued the significance of the Constitution.
"It's absurd to think that rights can be granted from above"
I agree, rights are inherent within individuals.
"or that the law is its own constraint when select men are given the power to create it."
To dispel this notion, let us simply consider it. If men were given the power to create law and change it at will, as my opponent implies, the Constitution would be worthless. People could just change it when they felt like it!
However, there are wide ranging interactions within the government that limit the scope of the government and its expansion. The Bill of Rights, the relative independence of the Judicial Branch, the separation of powers, the checks and balances present within the government, and other operations limit the scope of governmental change.
R4: Failure of the War on Terror
I'm glad that we find common ground Con.
I would argue that unconstitutional government operations continue because they are hidden in massive budgets, with the details blurred and usually difficult to comprehend.
People have also moved to a more liberal interpretation of the Constitution, which reduces its validity and utility.
The nature of America's government has been laid out in our founding documents. America has been an exceptional nation precisely because we have emphasized the inherent value of human beings, and the individual liberties that people possess. Not only does this liberty lead to general prosperity, human dignity, happiness, and more, it also allows people to defend themselves and their communities.
The idea that the government should violate the social contract it was founded upon, in the name of national security, is not only unconstitutional, un-American, and widely unpopular among the American people, it will not work.
Thanks Con for a terrific debate, and the readers for investing their time to evaluate our arguments.
"Just because the law changes, doesn't mean the Constitution does"
As mentioned earlier, interpretation of the Constitution changes because it is rooted in the common law, which evolves (and has evolved) over time. 
"If men were given the power to create law and change it at will, as my opponent implies, the Constitution would be worthless. People could just change it when they felt like it!"
The Constitution has changed , its interpretation has changed , and many governmental agencies and programs that currently exist are not listed in the Constitution.
Note that I'm not saying the Constitution changes immediately overnight, merely that it changes as a gradual process over time, which empirical observation would seem to validate.
"The only reason the Constitution seems more ineffective is because people are becoming more liberal with their interpretations to justify their policies"
As I pointed out in the previous round, the evolution of law is an inevitability due to the nature of the legal system, which is designed to respond to changes in social and political pressures out of necessity, in addition to authority granted certain people to decide what is legal and the correct interpretation of the Constitution. I've advocated for removing this layer of authority as much as possible and creating precautions to secure against abuses of power, but I don't feel Pro has provided any kind of solution to the problem. Pro has only said that people need to "stop being liberal" in their interpretation, but who is going to force them to do so? The people in power are the very ones propounding these interpretations and clearly desire it. He has also advocated for using "legal channels" of the current system to solve the problem, when by his own estimation the current system has corrupted, failed, and created these problems, so why should we believe the system will just fix itself?
My opponent says I'm arguing for the liberty of people to protect themselves. Pro has it backwards---I'm saying the opposite, that security of the rights granted is necessary for the liberty to exist, ie. historically the government granted the right to have guns and then people had the freedom to have guns. Firearms are the perfect example: if we imagine the only security being guns held by the people, then it would be necessary to hand out guns to as many people as possible (positive rights) to secure as best against a potential concentration of power reforming; on the other hand, if we just did nothing (freedom without security), then whoever obtained to most (or most powerful guns) could simply amass power and potentially deprive people of their rights---this is typically how governments are formed.
I think this is based on popular misconceptions of positive versus negative rights. Even in a state of nature, wherein you are born with a degree of freedom, certain material conditions must be given to you for your freedom to exist (your parents must give you life, you must be fed, you must be protected from attack until raised to the age of awareness and can act on your own). Even then, you still must receive a natural endowment of available food and shelter if you are to live and act on your freedom. The thing is about positive rights is they're not just something you receive, but that you also pay forward---you receive the materials necessary to be free, but you use that freedom to capitalize on your inheritance and extend even greater freedoms to the next generation.
I feel that my opponent is misunderstanding my argument, and points to a notion of security where the government "clamps down to maximize the idea of security." I've explained previously that totalitarianism decreases both personal security and freedom (and I don't believe Pro disagreed), and Pro also agreed with my definition that the sole function of government is to only provide the security necessary for freedom to exist. So I don't see how to logically consider security the only thing government does, but still have the "emphasis" be on something else.
"Con also didn't refute my analysis in R2 which argued the significance of the Constitution"
I think you're referring to around where you said, "we will spiral into a totalitarian state...if we abandon the Constitution..." If that's the case, then I feel you've once again misunderstood my argument: if your desire is to defend the Constitution, then security and protective measures are needed for it rather than expecting the current system (that you claim has failed to do so) to defend it on its own. I thought I made this clear.
My opponent contends that my statement about the Constitution not imposing constraints against governmental abuse on its own is false, and suggests that if it didn't, Obama could hypothetically wage an illegal war against Syria. I think it's unusual to use this argument about a hypothetical when the very thing has happened in reality: Obama has already bombed Libya without Congressional approval  despite the Constitution clearly stating only Congress can declare war . His predecessor initiated the Iraq War only under authorization based on the 1973 War Powers Act rather than a formal Congressional declaration of war, and in fact US Presidents have declared war without Congressional approval over 100 times throughout US history . There is no better example of a "living Constitution" than this.
I just don't see how an argument can be made based on proposition not being able to happen, when in fact it is currently happening and has happened over one hundred times in the past
My opponent claims that greater levels of freedom would create "lawless anarchy." The only real-world examples of "lawless anarchy" are in countries such as Somalia (essentially lacking a official government) that exhibit extraordinarily fewer personal freedoms than we currently enjoy in the more secure Western world. We don't find their practices of domination by martial law or similar restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement, or the common practices forced labor and trafficking.   We don't see the incredibly harsh human rights violations, including frequent attacks by paramilitary and militia groups on civilians, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, and rampant assault on women  
One could also point to the lawless anarchy as existed in Lebanon, one of the "closest approximations of anarchy" , which in the 1980s militias operated with little regard for human rights, ruled by authority rather than election, and civilians were frequently attacked, extorted, and outright massacred .
Clearly, we are more free in our secure societies than in these real examples of "lawless anarchy," which have more in common with tyranny and totalitarianism than we do, proving the point that greater levels of both security and freedom exist in tandem, and freedom without security leads to loss of both.
I don't feel that Pro has truly addressed my positions, or perhaps at times misunderstood them. I think I made a pretty detailed case for the primacy of positive rights over negative rights, as well as why the primary function of government is security (which Pro seemed to somewhat agree with). Whereas I suggested methods of removing authority, restructuring, and creating precautions to secure against abuses of power, my opponent seems to support the existing system---which, through unaccountability and corruption, has led to the very policies he agrees are a problem. Also, I believe I've adequately demonstrated through real-world examples that both freedom and security go hand in hand.
To voters reading this debate, remember that Pro and I are not really debating the specific policies that we both agree on, but rather the larger value of security versus freedom.
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