The Instigator
Letsdebate24
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Tophatdoc
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points

Snowden did nothing wrong

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Tophatdoc
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/11/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,291 times Debate No: 43780
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (9)
Votes (2)

 

Letsdebate24

Pro

I will taking the position of PRO that Snowden should not be labeled a criminal for what he did.
Tophatdoc

Con

I would like to thank Pro for hosting this debate. The Burden of Proof is on Pro to show that Edward Snowden did nothing wrong.I as Con need only to prove that Snowden did something wrong no matter how insignificant it was.

I will provide definition for the following two words:
Oath:"The words or formula of such a declaration or promise."
http://www.thefreedictionary.com...

Wrong:"Something contrary to ethics or morality"
http://www.thefreedictionary.com...

Snowden was employed at the National Security Agency(NSA). In order for him to be employed at NSA he had to take a couple oaths. One of these oaths was an oath of secrecy. Snowden under any circumstances was not allowed to release the classified documents to outside sources. Snowden broke his oath when he released classified documents[1]. Snowden therefore did something wrong when he released the classified information.

Snowden also committed theft when he took government property(classified documents) as well[2]. The documents did not belong to him but he took them anyways. This is not only wrong but also illegal.

There are numerous things Snowden did wrong but I will await Pro's reply before providing the other wrongs.

[1]http://www.slate.com...
[2]http://apps.washingtonpost.com...
Debate Round No. 1
Letsdebate24

Pro

Ironic that you would have a picture of Thomas Jefferson as he is one of my favorite figures to quote from.
He said
"Dissent is the greatest form of patriotism"

Many people have labeled him as a man that has committed treason against America but to be fair the founders of America themselves were guilty of treason when they left Britain but if they had not we would all be under British rule to this day.
Snowden released proof that the NSA was spying on American citizens without cause which is an invasion of privacy.
He saw such a blatant violation of our rights that he was forced to break his oath to inform the American people of such acts. The President of Brazil was so disturbed by the NSA's spying programs that he cancelled a meeting with Obama.
He revealed that there was illegal hacking done in the name of national security but that does not justice violating the law and rights of Americans.

President JFK made a speech warning the American people about the use of security
http://youtu.be...

One thing many people who bring the oath Snowden took seem to completely forget that those in the NSA themselves had to take an oath and when they commit illegal acts they too break that oath.
People need to be more concerned about what he revealed our government was doing in the vale of secrecy rather than the fact that he blew the whistle.

Snowden drew a great deal of scrutiny to the activities of the NSA and the majority of Americans are not pleased with what they have learned.

http://youtu.be...
http://youtu.be...
http://youtu.be...
Tophatdoc

Con

Thomas Jefferson, interesting guess but it is Alexander Hamilton.

"Many people have labeled him as a man that has committed treason against America but to be fair the founders of America themselves were guilty of treason when they left Britain but if they had not we would all be under British rule to this day."

The American Revolution is a different scenario all together considering it was a revolution. This situation with Snowden however has nothing to do with revolution. Therefore the label "treason" being applied to both is of a different origin. The leaders of the American Revolution committed treason because of "Taxation without Representation." While Snowden has been charged with treason because he has released classified documents to the international community. Edward Snowden can't be a convicted of treason until he stands trial.

"Snowden released proof that the NSA was spying on American citizens without cause which is an invasion of privacy.
He saw such a blatant violation of our rights that he was forced to break his oath to inform the American people of such acts. The President of Brazil was so disturbed by the NSA's spying programs that he cancelled a meeting with Obama.
He revealed that there was illegal hacking done in the name of national security but that does not justice violating the law and rights of Americans."

The NSA may have engaged in illegal activity or did things that should be considered unethical. That does not negate Edward Snowden's wrongs.

Nevertheless, Snowden has done something wrong as Pro has just admitted that Snowden broke his oath. Pro has only tried to justify Edward Snowden's wrongdoing. Therefore, Edward Snowden has done something wrong and it has been admitted too by Pro.

"One thing many people who bring the oath Snowden took seem to completely forget that those in the NSA themselves had to take an oath and when they commit illegal acts they too break that oath."

They did not break their oath by engaging in "illegal" activities. If so provide the section of the oath that was broken.

"People need to be more concerned about what he revealed our government was doing in the vale of secrecy rather than the fact that he blew the whistle."

I must be mistaken but I thought this was not a debate about what he revealed. The debate resolution read "Snowden did nothing wrong." Snowden has did many things wrong. My opponent has yet to refute any of my points on contention. Instead Pro has affirmed that Snowden did break his oath. Pro has only offered a justification for Snowden's wrongdoings. But this is a debate whether Snowden committed any wrongful acts. Snowden has committed wronguful acts as I showed in the first round.

Debate Round No. 2
Letsdebate24

Pro

Literally every government agency has to take an oath to uphold the constitution.

The one and only thing that could be deemed as "wrong" is that he broke an oath to secrecy but as he has stated he only took an oath to uphold the constitution

"I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

That is the oath Snowden had taken. Notice how it says "defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC" NSA being the domestic factor. Snowden was witness to illegal acts being committed by the NSA that violated his oath to uphold the constitution. As Snowden stated he did not swear an oath to secrecy he signed a conditional agreement stating that he would not disclose secret information. Take note that he did swear an oath to uphold the constitution but merely signed a conditional agreement of secrecy so that he could work for the NSA as a contractor. There is a drastic difference between signing a civil agreement and taking an oath to uphold the constitution. The constitution is the more important of the two by far and he decided to uphold it accordingly. He made the choice that his loyalty lay with the constitution, not some business agreement.
I see that I did not clear this up efficiently in the first round so I hope this will clear up any confusion between an oath to the constitution and a signed agreement of business.

http://www.newyorker.com...
Tophatdoc

Con

"The one and only thing that could be deemed as "wrong" is that he broke an oath to secrecy but as he has stated he only took an oath to uphold the constitution."

That is a lie on his part in that case. Snowden took two oaths[1]. If he hadn't taken the second one he wouldn't have been hired. Snowden committed multiple wrongs. Snowden also stole government property. That is called theft and it is illegal as well as unethical.

[1]http://www.wnd.com...

As I said the points of contention still stand. Snowden stole government property and violated his oath. Therefore he has done several wrongs. My opponent agreed that he violated his oath as well in Round 2. My opponent has ignored all points of contention to justify Edward Snowden's wrongdoing. Snowden has committed wrongdoing whether my opponent likes it or not.

Edward Snowden's Wrongs:
1. Edward Snowden violated his oath.
2. Snowden stole government property that he was entrusted with.
3. Snowden own father admitted he was engaging in civil disobedience. Lon Snowden said "the history of liberty is a history of civil disobedience to unjust laws or practices." Therefore Snowden did break the law.[2]

[2]http://www.wsws.org...
Debate Round No. 3
Letsdebate24

Pro

Your entire demeanor towards Snowden shows that you are one of those that have the mind set that he is a traitor but to determine if what he has done is wrong you have to evaluate his reasoning. Those that he exposed are desperate to aim the attention on Snowden to distract the people from exactly what it is he revealed them to be doing. You claim what he did was unethical so does that mean you believe an agreement to keep illegal activities that has upset the majority of Americans and other countries abroad a secret should be held with a higher regard than an oath to uphold the constitution? It is literally that simply, either path he chose he could be considered to be doing something unethical the only difference is he chose to do something "unethical" in front of the world to uphold his oath to the constitution. He chose to put his allegiance with the American people, not the government that was abusing its power.

1. Snowden took an oath to uphold the constitution as I have shown, he merely signed an agreement that was conditional to him working with the NSA. You have provided a false source which does not coincide with what Snowden has stated himself. He willingly took the risk to leak the information so therefore he would have no reason to lie about such a thing. There has been no official coming forward stating that he violated an oath of secrecy.
2. True he did steal documents and leak them to the public which is clearly illegal but that does not mean what he did was wrong. He chose to put his allegiance with the American people and the constitution, not the government that abuses its power.
3. Your missing the point of what his father said so perhaps this video will clear things up for you. A police officer takes an oath to uphold the constitution as well and they will break the law to enforce the law. For example they will drive 100mph to catch a criminal or they will shoot someone to prevent other lives from being lost. The police break the law but its deemed "ok" because they are doing so for the better good. Snowden also broke the law for the better good. Whether
my opponent likes it or not Snowden was true to his oath to uphold the constitution and he sacrificed more than more people ever would to do so.
http://youtu.be...

So I ask my opponent directly: Where would your loyalty be, with the governments unethical activities or would you choose to uphold the constitution? According to my opponents line of thinking either option he chooses will be unethical.
Tophatdoc

Con

"Your entire demeanor towards Snowden shows that you are one of those that have the mind set that he is a traitor but to determine if what he has done is wrong you have to evaluate his reasoning"

Where did I make the claim that Edward Snowden was a traitor? I never even made such a an insidious claim.

"You claim what he did was unethical so does that mean you believe an agreement to keep illegal activities that has upset the majority of Americans and other countries abroad a secret should be held with a higher regard than an oath to uphold the constitution?"

It is irrelevant to ask what I believe on the subject. That has nothing to do with the debate resolution. I won't comment on it because it is a debate distraction.

" It is literally that simply, either path he chose he could be considered to be doing something unethical the only difference is he chose to do something "unethical" in front of the world to uphold his oath to the constitution. He chose to put his allegiance with the American people, not the government that was abusing its power."

Pro has just admitted Edward Snowden would of been committing a wrong in either case. According to Pro's reasoning, Edward Snowden has chosen the least valued wrong by releasing the documents. Two wrongs don't make a right. That is a fallacy[1].

[1]http://www.nizkor.org...

" Snowden took an oath to uphold the constitution as I have shown, he merely signed an agreement that was conditional to him working with the NSA. You have provided a false source which does not coincide with what Snowden has stated himself. "

No it is not a false source. Edward Snowden signed Standard Form 312[2] which is a valid oath. It is a non-disclosure agreement stating he wouldn't release classified documents. The oath is written so that whom ever breaks the agreement will be held liable. He broke the agreement and he has is being charged appropriately as the matter dictates.

[2]http://www.wrc.noaa.gov...
[3]http://www.dailytech.com...

"True he did steal documents and leak them to the public which is clearly illegal but that does not mean what he did was wrong. He chose to put his allegiance with the American people and the constitution, not the government that abuses its power"

Pro has agreed Snowden did steal. Pro just states stealing is not wrong. Pro is only attempting to rationalize away the thought of Snowden stealing is wrong. Let's examine the definition of stealing.

Steal[4]: "to take (something that does not belong to you) in a way that is wrong or illegal"
[4]http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Therefore stealing is inherently wrong no matter the reasoning behind the act.

"A police officer takes an oath to uphold the constitution as well and they will break the law to enforce the law. For example they will drive 100mph to catch a criminal or they will shoot someone to prevent other lives from being lost. The police break the law but its deemed "ok" because they are doing so for the better good. Snowden also broke the law for the better good. Whether my opponent likes it or not Snowden was true to his oath to uphold the constitution and he sacrificed more than more people ever would to do so."

Well my opponent has just eviscerated his own claim about the NSA's alleged "illegal" activity. Pro stated "they will break the law to enforce the law." If that is the case the National Security Agency's alleged "illegal" activity was justified because they were trying to enforce the law by breaking it.

My point had nothing to do with anyone justifying the breaking of any laws. My point was that Lon Snowden claimed that Snowden was engaging in civil disobedience. Civil disobedience requires the breaking of the law. Therefore it is inherently wrong.
Debate Round No. 4
Letsdebate24

Pro

Notice in the statement that I never said you made that claim I only said that you had the mindset.

It is relevant because you have the conviction that Snowden has done something wrong and it is by no means a distraction to answer the question. In a court of law a witness or a professional can be asked what they believe pertaining to a case. Such as a psychologist being asked what he believes a persons mental state was at the time of a crime. Its relevant because you have to acknowledge that the arguments you've presented have a paradox within them.

par"a"dox

/G2;parəG6;d"ks/

noun

noun: paradox; plural noun: paradoxes

1.
a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.

Self-contradictory being the main point. You claim that Snowden has done wrong because he broke an agreement of secrecy however he did uphold his constitutional oath.
So to determine if Snowden has done something wrong you have to state which "oath" you believe is more unethical to break. If you believe that his loyalty to secrecy is more important than your right he did do something wrong but if you believe the oath he took to uphold the constitution is more important he did the right thing.
Its very black and white because your argument has presented a paradox he did do something wrong. Whether my opponent likes it or not it comes down to where you believe his loyalty should be.

Again whether it was an oath or a simple agreement can be disputed all day but whether it was or wasn't isn't the important part. Whats important is

Negative, the police break state laws while the NSA have violated our constitutional rights on a nation wide scale. Further more they did so with zero benefit to the American people. No proof has been provided at all that what they did helped protect Americans however the cop's can produce immediate results. For example they take out a suspect threatening hostages. Immediate results clearly for the good of the hostages.
It appears my opponent has trouble differentiating the difference between the two.

Let me use my opponents mindset for a moment. According to him he believes that Snowden did wrong because he broke the law regardless of his reasons. By this method of thinking cops too are criminals. Cops break the law but have a higher allegiance to the constitution hence their oath to uphold it. Snowden determined that his oath to the constitution is where his allegiance should be.

The bottom line is this: Did Snowden break any laws? Yes he did but does that mean that it was wrong? To answer that you first have to answer the question of where his loyalty should be. With the constitution? Or with a secrecy agreement?
Tophatdoc

Con

"Its relevant because you have to acknowledge that the arguments you've presented have a paradox within them."

There is no paradox in my explanation whatsoever. Pro is the only one who's argument has centered around a paradox. That paradox is that the Constitutional oath is more valuable than the Standard Form 312. However, if Edward Snowden didn't sign Standard Form 312 he would of never been hired. That is an unequivocal fact.

Let's sum up this debate.

1. My opponent has made his entire debate entirely on the case that "Two Wrongs make a Right." This is inherently is a fallacy in its' own right as I showed in Round 4. Pro has made the case that it is acceptable for Edward Snowden to steal government property and violate his oath because Edward Snowden is allegedly upholding his oath to the Constitution. In doing this Pro has admitted several times that Edward Snowden did wrong. But Pro claims it was justified in order to uphold the Constitution. Yet Pro never provided any evidence to how Snowden upheld the Constitution. Instead he insisted that Edward Snowden upheld his Constitutional Oath without providing any section of the Constitution that Edward Snowden has upheld. Therefore there is no evidence to make this case that Pro has presented. No evidence means no valid argument.

2. Pro has decided to attack the National Security Agency instead of debating the resolution and addressing the points I have presented. This has nothing to do with the debate resolution "Snowden did nothing wrong."

3. Pro has committed several fallacies throughout the debate ranging from "Two Wrongs Make a Right"(it is acceptable to break one oath for another oath), "Appeal to Authority" (The Constitution which my opponent repeated several times but didn't quote a single time), and a "Hasty Generalization"(Pro claims that the NSA committed illegal acts but has yielded in providing the information of what they did was illegal). Therefore a number of Pro's points originate from poor reasoning.

These are the points I have made in the debate to show that Edward Snowden has committed wrong acts:
1. Edward Snowden violated his oath. Pro has agreed that the written oath Standard Form 312 was broken.

2. Snowden stole government property that he was entrusted with. Pro has agreed that Snowden did steal. Therefore he has conceded this debate. Stealing is inherently wrong. See Round 4 in particular.
-Steal[1]: "to take (something that does not belong to you) in a way that is wrong or illegal"
[1]http://www.merriam-webster.com...

3. Edward Snowden has broken the trust of his employers and future employers. Is this not ethically wrong considering the amount of trust given into such a relationship between an employee and an employer?

4. Snowden was engaging in civil disobedience. Civil disobedience requires the breaking of the law. Therefore it is inherently wrong.

5. My opponent has claimed that Edward Snowden chose to do less wrong by upholding the Constitution and his oath to it. But how does something being less wrong mean it is not wrong?

6. My opponent has rested his argument on the "Two Wrongs Make a Right" fallacy when he justified Edward Snowden's actions. Here are several prime examples quoted by Pro himself:

"True he did steal documents and leak them to the public which is clearly illegal"
"they will break the law to enforce the law"
"Did Snowden break any laws? Yes he did"

7. My opponent has conceded the point the Edward Snowden has committed a wrong. Pro has only tried to rationalize away the wrong doing done by Edward Snowden.

In ending I would like to thank Pro for hosting this debate. Ladies and Gentleman if you believe I have shown that Edward Snowden has commited a wrong or multiple wrongs, Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 5
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by zrg4848 3 years ago
zrg4848
@progressivedem22

Well my friend, I agree his actions should not be discredited. But the truest injustice is that it's not explicitly illegal and will take much longer to force legal action or any change because it's not expressly stated. I even requested, through the Freedom of Information Act, any knowledge that was gathered on me secretly. I received a letter back saying that they had nothing on me but they included that if they did they wouldn't have to tell me because they gathered it secretly. -_-
Posted by zrg4848 3 years ago
zrg4848
*Sorry. Manning was part of the Army not the Marines. I knew that (s) was kept at the Marine Corps Bring in Quantico, Virginia and assumed (s) was a marine.
Posted by progressivedem22 3 years ago
progressivedem22
I'd agree that Manning's role was far more significant than that of Snowden, but I don't think that's a case for discrediting (even partially) Snowden. I would disagree that he didn't reveal any crimes. The actions of the NSA represent an interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act that even the author of the bill found abhorrent. Two judges who ruled on data mining en masse said that it was unconstitutional, one--a Bush appointee--going so far as to say that Madison would be "aghast." I do consider the actions of the government to be illegal, though calling them criminal would be another story.
Posted by zrg4848 3 years ago
zrg4848
Do I support Snowden and his actions? Yes. Was he the great idealist that everyone makes him out to be? No, he did not reveal any actual crimes and what he did was illegal even though I don't think he should ever be prosecuted. Snowmen's actions were not selfish and meant to help, but his actions are reported as much grander. However, Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning exposed actual crimes commuted by the NSA and has been sentences because (s)he's a marine and turned (her)himself in. Think about that. Manning could have easily ran because any additional information would be more valuable and their first hand military knowledge would have made them valuable. But Manning didn't because (s)he believed (s)he did the right thing and wanted to stand by his(her) decision. Snowden did a great thing but I believe that Manning did something greater.
Posted by progressivedem22 3 years ago
progressivedem22
Then again, we can say that the politicians who condoned NSA spying--as well as James Clapper, who admitted to deliberately lying about whether such spying was occurring--are in violation of the 4th Amendment, and thus their oaths of office. I don't want to give too much of my thinking on this away, as Pro is the one who should be making this case. This debate should be quite interesting. I only wish that it was a measure of whether the good that Snowden did outweighed any of the bad (the bad, for me, is that he fled the country--but , then again, Greenwald had a really good argument for that).
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
whiteflame
^My thoughts exactly.
Posted by progressivedem22 3 years ago
progressivedem22
I think the wording in the debate will make this quite difficult for Pro. I support Ed Snowden, too, but I think it is undeniable that he broke the law. I'd want to pardon him--and, frankly, I would change the law--but without a doubt he violated both his oath of office and a federal statute.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
whiteflame
If I had one less debate on my plate, I would take this up, as I feel it is an important issue and I actually would side with whoever takes Con. But I'll be following it.
Posted by PotBelliedGeek 3 years ago
PotBelliedGeek
Good luck! I think snowden is a hero. I will be following this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Wylted 3 years ago
Wylted
Letsdebate24TophatdocTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con proved that Snowden did do wrong. Pro gave himself an impossible burden of proof. Everyone's conduct seemed fair and nothing about the grammer or spelling really stuck out to me.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 3 years ago
whiteflame
Letsdebate24TophatdocTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Some grammatical errors on Pro's part, so Con gets that. Now, the reason for the decision has to do with the phrasing of the topic. It's not saying "Snowden has done more good than harm," it says "Snowden did nothing wrong." You gave yourself an impossible burden of proof. I can agree with Pro that what Snowden did was, on the whole, ethical. I can agree that he adhered to his most important oaths. And yet I can still vote Con. All I need is some measure of wrong, anything, and as Pro admits that Snowden committed lesser wrongs for the greater good, that's a concession of the debate. Wrong was committed, and therefore I must give the round to Con, even if I believe that Snowden was justified in committing it.