The Instigator
jesusfreak22
Pro (for)
Tied
5 Points
The Contender
matthew.beauman
Con (against)
Tied
5 Points

National Security Ought to be Valued Above Freedom of Press

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/4/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,371 times Debate No: 38490
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (2)
Votes (4)

 

jesusfreak22

Pro

First off, I would like to say that I chose this side of the arguement as a challenge for myself. This is not necessarily my point of view. Also, I will not tolerate rude language. This debate will consist of 2 rounds. In the first you may give your speech, 2 you may rebutt.
Onto my speech:
At first glance the 1st Amendment appears to be written in clear terms. "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of... the press."
However, there are underlying questions: Does freedom of the press protect the right to publish defamatory material? If not, can the government prohibit such publications?
A majority of the Founding Fathers adhered to the view that equated the free press with a doctrine of no prior restraint. This doctrine provided that the publication of something could not be suppressed by the government before it was released to the public.
In the seminal case New York Times vs. Sullivan, Supreme Court extended 1st Amendment protection for print and media. In NYT vs. US, the Supreme Court stated that it was necessary to present 'clear and present danger' of a national security breach. The Department of Justice had sought to prevent the publication of classified material that revealed the government's secrecy and deception. If this classified material, also known as the Pentagon Papers, had threatened U.S. troops by revealing their movement or location, the Supreme Court stated, publication would not have been permitted.

In the 1970's the government told us that our national security was at stake when the New York Times and Washington Post started publishing secret Pentagon Papers. The Supreme Court disagreed, and today it would be hard to argue that publication hurt our war efforts. One of the reasons it's hard to find instances where our free press did damage national security is that the press has been pretty responsible in curtailing its reporting when the government claims that publication could do real harm. Journalists are citizens too, and they understand that reporting on sensitive national security information requires discretion, even if they sometimes come out in a different place. The press also knows that public opinion would turn on it very quickly if there were incidents where reckless reporting caused real peril.
There may not be many good examples of the press endangering our national security, but there are some well-known times when our national security might have been better served if there had been more leaks and the press had reported more of the story. The most famous is the New York Times reporting on the Bay of Pigs invasion before it happened. The White House intervened to tone down the story, and President Kennedy later called, saying that he wished the press would have resisted the pressure.
It's understandable that government officials like to keep things secret, but we need news to be presented to a neutral judge who can consider national security in a broader context. The first amendment isn't at odds with national security; it's one of the surest ways of protecting it.

In June, Al Qaeda had an online magazine with instructions on bomb making. The good guys secretly hacked into the online magazine and changed the instructions so that the bombs would fail to explode. Over a few beers, someone told the story to a member of the press. The public's right to know. Freedom of the press. Both important ascpects of our government.
But, somehow, during the War on Terror, being so open that your enemy learns how to kill you because freedom of the press and transparancy give them that information is just plain dumb. During World War II, the US went to extreames to keep the location and date of the attack on Normady a secret. What would have happened if Private Smith or an Associated Press reporter substituted his own judgement for Eisnhower's and leaked the invasion to the world? What if we had transparancy and told Osama Bin Ladaen we knew where he was hiding and that we were coming to kill him?
The person who leaked the information about the phony bomb endangered national security. Private Bradley Manning released over 700,000 official and classified state and defense documents, argueing that the public had a right to know. He endangered national security. The Associated Press reporter who wrote the story about the US foiling an airline bombing attempt prevented that covert operation from continuing to stop future bombings. He endangered national security. Why should we allow these people to endanger our country?
The first amendment actually DOES protect our national security. Reporters realize that there are dangers to reporting sensitvie materials and make sure that what they post doesn't harm the country. Their job is to protect and inform. National security protects our people and should be valued above freedom of the press.
matthew.beauman

Con

First, I would like to graciously accept my esteemed opponents challenge and wish him good luck in this debate.


I would like to start off with a quote from a well-known person in history… Many of you may know him by the name of Adolph Hitler, leader of the German Workers’ Party and one of the greatest leaders of all time, and the most psychopathic. He said:


“Let me control the text books and I will control the state” (1)


These words, while not directly related to the topic of the debate carry some dire implications indeed… What if the state had the right to censor the press when it wanted; what would happen? Well we only need look as far as North Korea to see the damaging effects of government run media and why this would be bad. The first amendment was put in place to keep government out of the business of the press so that it would have accountability for its actions since the one good thing about the media is its ability sniff out secrets.


Now, how does this relate to National Security? Well some would say that the government has a right to some secrecy since the movement of troops and the various new weapons we are testing should remain secret, and for the most part I would agree. However, what pro does not realize is that anything, in the right context could be construed as a national security breech, hence the supreme court’s ruling on the subject that it must be an imminent threat to national security to limit the right of free press. We have what’s called the Freedom of Information act as well which grants the ability of Americans to know what their politicians are up to, within reason and this is so that people who run for office are held accountable for the shady actions they do and goes even further to enshrine the concept of the press holding our elected officials accountable for their actions.


Now, pro brings up terrorism as a defense and asks, and I paraphrase “Should we not make it so that the security of the nation is paramount to freedom of the press? I mean after all, someone might leak something that a terrorist reads and then uses it against us.” To this I say, you are right, this is a very real threat, but it is not a reason for us to give up our most basic rights, just so we can have some security. It was Benjamin Franklin who once said:


““They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” (2)


If we allow the threat of terrorism to cow us into accepting limits on essential liberty such as freedom of the press then we doom ourselves to the same outcome when another such situation comes along and we have established a precedent of giving up liberty for security.


While I agree that Journalists should have the good sense to not harm the nation’s security for a story, it is there right to do so, so long as it does not pose a direct threat to the security of the nation, and to try to limit this is to invite despotism and censure of our most basic right of all, the freedom of the press.


(1) http://www.hyperhistory.net...


(2) http://www.whatourforefathersthought.com...

Debate Round No. 1
jesusfreak22

Pro

"What if the state had the right to censor the press when it wanted; what would happen?"
What would happen? The press would attain private information that would harm the country. That is what would happen. Because when something is pubished, people in the United States see it, but so does the "enemy".
Recently, Obama was talking about launching an attack on Syria. Syrian government obviously heard of the planned attack and threatened the US. Syria was prepared, and would have the advantage because their military forces would not have to travel around the world. The government should have stepped in and stopped the press from publishing ALL the information. Yes, the American people have the right to know what our government is planning, but not all of it should be spread to the world.

"What the pro does not realize is that anything, in the right context could be constructed as a security breech."
As I stated before, in the court case, NYT vs US, the Supreme Court made it very clear that the plaintiff must present accurate data that shows that, if the paticular topic was reported on, there would be immident danger.

"Now, pro brings up terrorism as a defense and asks, and I paraphrase "Should we not make it so that the security of the nation is paramount to freedom of the press? I mean after all, someone might leak something that a terrorist reads and then uses it against us." To this I say, you are right, this is a very real threat, but it is not a reason for us to give up our most basic rights, just so we can have some security. "
Is my opponent implying that they would rather see terrorists attacking the American people and their allies, than have national security. National security was put into action for a reason: to keep the citizen of the Untied States safe. Yes, we will continue to have press systems, but the press should not be allowed to pubish content that provokes life vs death!

National security is a very important aspect of the world. The United States may find it beneficial to take it more seriously. I believe that I have made my point very clear in that national security protects the lives of many, and that the first amendment acutually ENCOURAGES national security.

In conclusion, I would like to thank my opponent for joining me in this debate!
matthew.beauman

Con


I see Pro has tried to answer my points; however I have to say that the arguments appear weak to say the least.


The press is in the business of obtaining private information, this is what they do and they are very good at it. The whole idea of a free press is to have that accountability in place so the American public knows when the government is trying to do something that is not in their best interest. Is it ok for the United States to go to war without the consent of congress? It states clearly in the constitution that this is not the case, and war must be voted on and approved by the congress of the United States (Article one Section Eight of the United States Constitution). Therefore, indirectly it is the right of the people to know when congress is declaring war so that they can protest it if they feel it is unwarranted.


The press is a direct pipeline to the people in regards to current events that are happening… If the press is not informed (Or does not find out) that America is attacking someone (Say for the sake of argument Syria) then congress would not be held accountable for this if the reason for going to war was not just. The freedom of press is there to insure against the possible tyranny of government and is necessary, even if the potential security of the nation is in jeopardy.


Now, Pros assertions as to the court case is interesting because they assert that security should be valued over free press, and implies in their opening statements that the press should be limited in this regard to ensure the security of the nation is not compromised. I would then like to ask Pro where we should draw the line. As I stated, anything in the right context can be construed as a security threat and so it would be a very slippery slope indeed to allow this type of censure of the press to gain some security.


As to the statement of whether I would like to see terrorist acts take place against the American people and her interests is quite frankly irrelevant. Of course I would not like to see ANY attacks happen against us or our allies, but this does not negate the need for a free press or the danger that limiting this right would cause. There is a saying that says power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Without the accountability of the press the government would be free to do what it wanted with little scrutiny at all, and things such as the NSA monitoring all of our communications (Emails, phone calls, this debate, your conversations with your mother at the local Starbucks) would be allowed to go unchecked and have no accountability for the gross invasion of privacy this entails.


The freedom of the press should not be limited any more than it already is, and the security of the nation is not an exception to this.


I would like to thank my opponent for this debate and to the voters for their feed back!


Debate Round No. 2
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by matthew.beauman 3 years ago
matthew.beauman
I agree, and i feel that if the debate had been slightly longer i would have been able to flesh that out more, thanks for the feed back!
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
I found this to be an unsatisfying debate. The resolution is simply not very clear and runs the risk of being so broad as to convey little significance or meaning.

For example, CON readily adopts a stance that censorship in regards to imminent threats to national security are allowable under his interpretation of the primacy of freedom of press. PRO somehow equates the 1st amendment to protecting national security by arguing how an amendment that mandates freedom of press protects national security when it is violated (again, same issue of imminent threat).

I found neither line of argumentation satisfactory. The resolution as well as PRO's position on it is unclear, and since PRO had burden and instigated this debate, I will score S&G against PRO.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by bsh1 3 years ago
bsh1
jesusfreak22matthew.beaumanTied
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Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: I felt both sides pursued this topic as an absolute--you either had to choose security or press freedom, there was no middle ground. Yet, the resolution is asking us to value one over the other, and so we can still prioritize security while having press freedom. Having one does not equate to the destruction of the other. This distinction could have been made or succinctly by both debaters. Ultimately, Pro had better argumentation, but Con was the only one to provide links to sources. Con also had better spelling/grammar.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
jesusfreak22matthew.beaumanTied
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: see comments
Vote Placed by TheAntidoter 3 years ago
TheAntidoter
jesusfreak22matthew.beaumanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Arguments were par, and the sources were irrelevant to relevant argumentation.
Vote Placed by Adam2 3 years ago
Adam2
jesusfreak22matthew.beaumanTied
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Total points awarded:20 
Reasons for voting decision: Everyone did good, but pro gets the upper hand because she based her argument on facts and used that as a reason to support national security.