The Instigator
itsjoshsorbe
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
LayTheologian
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Resolved: The benefits of domestic surveillance by the NSA outweigh the harms.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/10/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,724 times Debate No: 38752
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (0)

 

itsjoshsorbe

Pro

What would happen without the NSA? Simply put, terrorism would be more present in the United States, and this round will show you why. This is why, we affirm the resolution resolved: The benefits of domestic surveillance by the NSA outweigh the harms.

NSA director: Programs disrupted dozens of attacks

Donna Cassata and Connie Cass, Associated Press, June 12, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The director of the National Security Agency vigorously defended once-secret surveillance programs as an effective tool in keeping America safe, telling Congress on Wednesday that the information collected disrupted dozens of terrorist attacks without offering details.

In plain-spoken, measured tones, Alexander answered senators' questions in an open session and promised to provide additional information to the Senate Intelligence Committee in closed session on Thursday. The director of national intelligence has declassified information on two thwarted attacks — one in New York, the other in Chicago — and Alexander said he was pressing for more disclosures.

But he also warned that revelations about the secret programs have eroded agency capabilities and, as a result, the U.S. and its allies won't be as safe as they were two weeks ago.

Members of the House and Senate Intelligence panels and key leaders have been briefed on the programs and have expressed their support for the operations as a valid tool in the terrorism fight.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Wednesday that the programs are constitutional and "very important to the security of the American people and they help us in a big way to address the terrorist threat that does in fact remain."


FBI director: Surveillance programs might have prevented 9/11

Lucy Madison, CBS News, June 13, 2013

Amid ongoing debate about the propriety of U.S. government programs tracking private citizens' phone and internet use, FBI Director Robert Mueller said Thursday that the government might have prevented the 9/11 terrorist attacks had similar surveillance programs been in place in 2001.

Mueller, addressing the House Judiciary Committee just months before the end of his 12-year tenure, outlined a sequence of intelligence data that was collected leading up to the attacks, and argued that the controversial programs, which collect telephone numbers and metadata, could have helped national security experts connect the dots relating to the plan -- and even "derailed" it entirely.

"Before 9/11 there was an individual by the name of Khalid Almihdhar who came to be one of the principal hijackers. He was being tracked by the intelligence agencies... They lost track of him," Mueller said. "At the same time, the intelligence agencies had identified an al Qaeda safe house in Yemen. They understood that that al Qaeda safe house had a telephone number but they could not know who was calling into that particular -- that particular safe house."

Almihdhar was in San Diego and had been calling the al Qaedasafehouse in Yemen.

"If we had the telephone number from Yemen, we would have matched it up to that telephonenumber in San Diego, got further legal process, identified Almihdhar... The 9/11 Commission itself indicated that investigations or interrogationsof Almihdhar once he was identified could have yielded evidence of connections to other participants in the 9/11 plot. The simple fact of their detention could have derailed the plan. In any case, the opportunity was not there."

Also, because the resolution states "outweigh the harms", we must realize that the benfits "saving American lives" out weigh the supposed harms "intrusion of privacy".

For these reasons, I urge a pro ballot.

LayTheologian

Con

I would first like to congratulate my opponent on finding the most biased sources possible to support his claim. If his argument rests on the claims of the NSA and FBI, it is a house of cards that can be blown apart by the most cursory examination into the trustworthiness of his sources. If, however, the affirmative has other evidence, I encourage him to present it all at once rather than bit by bit, so that we may spend as much time as possible discussing the full affirmative argument.
I see no need to devise arguments of my own at this time; the burden of proof is on the affirmative, and the burden of proof will not be satisfied with such laughably untrustworthy sources.
Debate Round No. 1
itsjoshsorbe

Pro

itsjoshsorbe forfeited this round.
LayTheologian

Con

LayTheologian forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
itsjoshsorbe

Pro

My apologies for missing the limit for the last round.

As for the argument if sources being claims by the FBI, if you do not provide any counter claims, then you must accept these sources. In this type of debate (public forum), the burden if proof does NOT lie on the affirmative as if does in policy debate. It is rather a balance scale, and we are trying to sway the audience our way.

Also, if opponent had read the cards fully, he would have seen that the only time these sources mentioned the FBI's opinions is when I quoted them. Otherwise, it is all factual information found by the writer.

With his only argument being refuted in this round, I can only see a pro ballot. Thank you.
LayTheologian

Con

"The director of the National Security Agency vigorously defended once-secret surveillance programs as an effective tool in keeping America safe, telling Congress on Wednesday that the information collected disrupted dozens of terrorist attacks without offering details."

Regarding the claims made by the NSA, what may be asserted without evidence may be dismissed without evidence. In this case, though, we have evidence that justifies dismissing the claims of the NSA. To quote security analyst Peter Bergen, "a survey of court documents and media accounts of all the jihadist terrorist plots in the United States since 9/11 by the New America Foundation shows that traditional law enforcement methods have overwhelmingly played the most significant role in foiling terrorist attacks."

To quote security Analyst Bruce Schneier regarding the claims of both the FBI and the NSA, "Rather than thinking of intelligence as a connect-the-dots picture, think of it as a million unnumbered pictures superimposed on top of each other. Which picture is the relevant one? We have no idea. Turning that data into actual information is an extraordinarily difficult problem, and one that the vast scope of our data-gathering programs makes even more difficult."

For corroboration of this claim, one need look no further than the Boston Marathon bombing. The Federal Government had warning of the risks posed by Tamerlan Tsarnaev. He was on the TIDE list that fed into such programs as the FBI's terrorist screening database. His internet history also should have thrown up enormous red flags -- his Amazon wish list included such titles as "Voice Power: Using Your Voice to Captivate, Persuade, and Command Attention; How to Make Driver"s Licenses and Other ID on Your Home Computer; The ID Forger: Homemade Birth Certificates & Other Documents Explained; and Dale Carnegie"s classic, How to Win Friends & Influence People, among other guides to fake identification and several books about the Italian Mafia."

His co-conspirator Dzhokar, on the other hand, downloaded Al-Qaeda literature, including instructions on how to make a pressure-cooker bomb.

In the face of this evidence that the NSA data-mining programs do not work, we must treat the claims of the FBI and NSA with extreme suspicion.

http://www.foxnews.com...
http://www.csmonitor.com...
http://www.techdirt.com...
http://www.cnn.com...
Debate Round No. 3
itsjoshsorbe

Pro

On Peter Bergan's quote, he says "traditional law enforcement methods have played the biggest role" but isn't the domestic surveillance by the NSA traditional? They have been monitoring the American people since the agency started in 1952.

On analyst Schneier's quote, the only point being made is that the ability to find terrorism plots is difficult. However, nowhere in the quote does it say it is impossible. The NSA has been able to foil plots since it first began (which is my next point) and they have overcome that obstacle.

Sebastian Rotella, 23-year analyst of international affairs for the LA Times, gives his perspective of the NSA domestic surveillance by the NSA:

European terrorist hunters seem surprised that the revelation of the NSA data-monitoring programs is big news. The technological capacities of U.S. agencies have been an integral component of dramatically improved teamwork against terrorism during the past decade.

"In the fight against terrorism, intelligence-sharing is essential," said Jean-Louis Brugui"re, who served for more than two decades as a top French antiterror magistrate before retiring in 2007. (He declined to discuss the NSA"s role in investigations.) "Cooperation with American services has always been trusting and excellent."

In conclusion, because the NSA domestic surveillance program has foiled terrorism plots according to NUMEROUS sources, and the con has never presented an argument himself (other than against my case), I can only see a pro ballot. The con has not presented any harms, so the benefits must outweigh the "nonexistent harms". Thank you.
LayTheologian

Con

"On Peter Bergan's quote, he says 'traditional law enforcement methods have played the biggest role' but isn't the domestic surveillance by the NSA traditional? They have been monitoring the American people since the agency started in 1952."

I feel this should be obvious to anyone reading this debate, but I feel the need to emphasize that Pro is here resorting to equivocation and sophistry to draw attention away from a valid point. Peter Bergan was clearly contrasting the use of the NSA's invasive data-mining practices with traditional law enforcement (bear in mind, the NSA is not a law-enforcement agency) techniques like stakeouts, informants, and interrogations. This is very strong evidence that the NSA's claims of having foiled many (or even any) terrorist attacks are just so much hot air.

"On analyst Schneier's quote, the only point being made is that the ability to find terrorism plots is difficult. However, nowhere in the quote does it say it is impossible. The NSA has been able to foil plots since it first began (which is my next point) and they have overcome that obstacle."

It should also be obvious that this difficulty, pointed out by an acknowledged global expert in the field, demonstrates that the current dearth of NSA success stories is unlikely to change. The NSA has been successful in the past. The NSA was highly successful in the Cold War. However, their current techniques are much less discriminate and discerning than in the past, and they currently maintain a Cold-War mentality that has ruinous effects on the civil liberties of Americans.

"'In the fight against terrorism, intelligence-sharing is essential,' said Jean-Louis Bruguire, who served for more than two decades as a top French antiterror magistrate before retiring in 2007. (He declined to discuss the NSA's role in investigations.) 'Cooperation with American services has always been trusting and excellent.'"

Please note that I'm not disputing that international cooperation is necessary. However, this quote says nothing about the need for the invasive methods used by the NSA and FBI that violate American rights.

"In conclusion, because the NSA domestic surveillance program has foiled terrorism plots according to NUMEROUS sources, and the con has never presented an argument himself (other than against my case), I can only see a pro ballot. The con has not presented any harms, so the benefits must outweigh the 'nonexistent harms'. Thank you. "

I'm glad you emphasized the word numerous, because it gives me an excuse to talk about etymology, which is something of a hobby of mine. The word numerous comes from the Latin numerus, meaning "a number." Now, two is certainly a number; however, two sources certainly does not meet the standard for having "NUMEROUS sources."

You point out that I haven't mentioned any harms. I shouldn't have to: the burden of proof is on those who wish to claim that infringing on the rights of others is the right course of action. However, because I have a bit of space left, I will.

The NSA and FBI violate 4th Amendment rights to be safe against unreasonable search. This gives the United States Executive Branch unreasonable and unconstitutional amounts of power. If they were only ever using this for fighting terrorism and it was literally impossible to use it for any other purpose, I might even accept this. However, they aren't.

http://www.reuters.com...

The FBI, DEA, and IRS use illegally-collected data to form the basis for seemingly-above-board investigations. I don't have much space left, so I'll just give a quick example. The NSA sees a text from you to your medical marijuana provider saying you'll buy ten grams. The friendly neighborhood DEA agent "just happens" to see "something suspicious" in your window, so they get a search warrant. This is a gross violation of your 4th Amendment rights.

The "benefits" of NSA domestic surveillance do not outweigh the imposition on civil liberties.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by islandersfan25 3 years ago
islandersfan25
This is a great debate, with good evidence on both sides. I am doing this debate for NFL public forum tournaments, and I feel the Pro side is easier to go with (although it is against my beliefs) I feel the Con side does have a more difficult job. If the voting period was still open, I would most likely vote for the Con side here, as they provided more compelling arguments.
No votes have been placed for this debate.