Resolved: the benefits of domestic surveillance by the NSA outweigh the harms.
Debate Rounds (5)
"A more effective national surveillance system is essential for nationwide security against a bioterrorist attack." Daniel Akaka once said something similar, and though this resolved does not pertain to a bioterrorist attack, my partner and I feel that its statement about national surveillance is effective in demonstrating our views. My partner and I stand in firm affirmation that the resolved, "The benefits of domestic surveillance by the NSA outweigh the harms." And our beliefs are supported by these three contentions.
First, Domestic Surveillance is Preventative of Terrorist Attacks, second contention as, The Patriot act permits Surveillance, third contention as, and we already forfeit our right to privacy.
For clarification, the following terms have been provided by the Mariam-Webster Dictionary
Benefits- Good or helpful result or effect
Domestic- Relating to or involving someone's home or family or of, relating to, or made in your own country
Surveillance- The act of carefully watching someone or something especially in order to prevent or detect a crime
NSA- National security agency
Outweigh- To be greater than (someone or something) in weight, value, or importance
Harms- Physical or mental damage or injury: something that causes someone or something to be hurt, broken, made less valuable or successful
As said by Sen. Joe Biden, "the FBI could get a wire trap to investigate the mafia, but they could not get one to investigate terrorists." He also said that the "tools of the act have been around for decades" So the idea of domestic surveillance is not in any way new. Under the act, law enforcement can now fight terrorism. Under the act, investigators can investigate without "tipping off terrorists. Before the terrorists could get away before we could get any information. They may flee, kill all witnesses, destroy evidence, and take other action to evade arrest. These cases have been seen many times throughout history. It is for these reasons that my partner and I see the benefits of domestic surveillance as they are preventative of terrorist attacks.
The Patriot act allows surveillance to be used. The Bill of Rights was written in an age where technology was minimal, nowhere near what it is today. The Patriot act only brings the law up to speed with modern society. Amendment 4 of the Bill of Rights states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." I would like to point out a word in the amendment: unreasonable. Is it not reasonable to have domestic surveillance to prevent from terrorist attacks? Domestic does not pertain to you specifically, it only means within a country. The NSA when searching only views messages that have certain words that are used. To restate, under the Patriot act domestic surveillance is allowed.
Last, we already forfeit our right to privacy. In this modern age of computers and facebook, we are often met with issues with sharing personal information. David Cole, a lawyer who teaches constitutional law and national security at Georgetown University, says, "The world of computers has weakened the fourth amendment, and that in the modern age, it means very little." He also says, "When I send an email I"ve shared it with the internet provider. When I search the web I"ve shared it with the Web company. When I walk around with my cell phone I am sharing with the cell phone company about my whereabouts. All of that information has lost its constitutional protection, and the government can get it without showing that you"re engaged in illegal activity." These means as stated by Mr. Cole have weakened the fourth amendment, thus a new solution needs to be used, and that solution is domestic surveillance.
It is for these reasons that my partner and I stand in affirmation to the resolved which states, "The benefits of domestic surveillance by the NSA outweigh the harms." And our view has been supported by these three contingencies: Domestic Surveillance is preventative of terrorist attacks, Surveillance is allowed under the Patriot act, and that we already forfeit our right to privacy.
For the purposes of clarification, my partner and I offer the following definitions and observations.
Domestic Surveillance - "the acquisition of nonpublic information concerning United States persons" - (Executive Order 12333 (3.4) (i))
NSA - "the United States cryptologic organization or National Security Agency"
Observation 1: Clear and proven impacts must be weighed over nebulous or unproven impacts.
Contention 1: Domestic surveillance infringes on our rights
According to a secret accounting, field collectors have sucked up almost 200 million new records every month from Google and Yahoo" including "metadata," as well as text, audio, and video, over 16 million of which are domestic communications. However, unlike PRISM, which only targets foreign records, MUSCULAR secretly hacks into the networks of Google and Yahoo to acquire information. Even the FISA court, the "rubber-stamp court" which issues warrants for NSA surveillance, has declared upstream collection like this illegal, yet the NSA has persisted in stealing this data. But that"s not all. According to NSA documents, the NSA has been operating a program called Quantum, which replaces legitimate webpages with NSA-created ones that hack into a user"s computer and suck data into NSA databases, indiscriminately targeting US citizens along with foreigners. In fact, as the Guardian states, the NSA has received so much data from Quantum that they have had to build a separate database to hold it all. Moreover, as the Harvard Law Journal posts, "Freedom from surveillance, whether public or private, is foundational to the capacity for critical self-reflection and informed citizenship". However, domestic surveillance by the NSA has violated these freedoms and undermined the legitimacy of our government.
NSA surveillance causes the chilling effect which, as Webster"s Dictionary of Law states, is the inhibition of the exercise of a constitutional right, especially the First Amendment, by the potential or threatened prosecution under a law or sanction. In fact, according to the EFF, there have been at least 22 cases of infringement. "In [FUCLA] v. NSA, the EFF represented a diverse array of [activists] that share one [thing]: they each depend on the First Amendment's guarantee[s]... [They] argue that if the government vacuums up the records of every phone call...then people will be afraid to join ... organizations [with] dissenting views on political issues" . As such, NSA surveillance violates our basic rights to free speech and association, undermining the pillars of our democracy. Moreover, according to Lee, a researcher at ESET, "the psychological effect [of NSA surveillance] was devastating". Furthermore, Pamela Jones, founder of legal news site Groklaw, stated that "no matter how good the motives [are] for collecting ... everything we say to one another, and no matter how 'clean' we all are, I [can"t] function in [this] atmosphere". She then shut down the website. Clearly, the spectre alone of NSA surveillance can cause people to not express their own opinions. Privacy International furthers: "The closing of Groklaw shows... [that] The ... threat of surveillance is enough to [make people] self-censor" Thus, domestic NSA surveillance infringes on the Constitution through the chilling effect.
Contention 2: Domestic NSA surveillance hurts US economic and political power
Sub-point A: Economic Harms
According to Ron Wyden, "American companies that are believed to have been the subject of government surveillance orders are taking a major hit internationally and here at home." The ITIF recently published a report outlining the costs of domestic NSA surveillance, stating that "[NSA data collection] will likely have an immediate and lasting impact on the competitiveness of the U.S. cloud computing industry... [which will stand] to lose $22 to $35 billion over the next three years." Moreover, according to European Commissioner for Digital Affairs Neelie Kroes. "there are multibillion-euro consequences for American companies". This clearly shows the devastating impacts of NSA surveillance has had and will have on the American economy. If globally based companies feel that the US is not competitive in one, they will start to shift their operations away from the US, causing wider economic damage. According to VMware, business agility and cloud computing is closely correlated, and modern companies rely on security. Consequently, they will move to foreign countries to resolve our cloud computing security issues, potentially losing an even larger share of the $206 billion (dollar) future cloud computing industry.
Sub-point B: Hurts international relations
Domestic NSA surveillance hurts international relations and justifies dictatorship. As Eli Dourado of the Guardian states, "The US State Department always rightly opposed [international web censorship,] but now that ...the NSA's domestic ... surveillance programs [have been revealed], the United States looks hypocritical", which " is reinvigorating Russian proposals for the [ITU] to take over internet technical standards and management". According to Representative Ron Paul, The US" show of massive intelligence gathering decreases it"s ability to act as the "protector of democracy", and thus sets a precedent for dictator regimes to act like the US and collects massive amounts of data without any real justification. The United States is the "beacon" of democracy, yet with the shadow of NSA surveillance corrupting our reputation. our power and hegemony is undermined. Moreover, many countries, including Venezuela, Russia and Bolivia have used Snowden"s domestic spying leaks as a reason to defy the US, not least in offering to shelter Snowden. As Venezuela"s Hugo Chavez states, "He deserves the world's protection", a clear attempt to use the scandals of domestic surveillance he has unveiled as a way to subvert and undermine US power.
Thus, for these reasons and more, my partner and I strongly urge a CON ballot. Thank you.
Do you agree that a definition of domestic surveillance that is being used by the US government right now is preferable to your definition?
Has the NSA actually stopped any terrorist attacks?
Is the collection of the content of messages without a warrant illegal?
How is the solution to the 4th amendment domestic surveillance?
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