The Instigator
Con (against)
49 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
35 Points

TT2 Expert Final: U.S. militia groups pose a greater threat to our national security than do FTOs

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 9/3/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 14,627 times Debate No: 61226
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (252)
Votes (15)




First and foremost, I'd like to congratulate bsh1 on making it this far in the tournament. Much as he has achieved this before, and even won before, I think it's a massive achievement with all of the fantastic competition we've had. Second, I am again honored to be debating a venerated veteran of the site. I have a lot of respect for bsh1 and his debating prowess, something I know he'll bring in spades to this debate. I hope I am up to the challenge, but most importantly, no matter how this ends, I hope to make this debate one to remember.

With that, let's take a look at the topic and build the standard upon which this debate should proceed.

The full topic, as written by bsh1 (and thanks to him for the suggestion) is:

"Militia groups within the United States pose a greater threat to our national security than do foreign terrorist organizations." I will provide the necessary definitions.

Militia group: This seems best defined on Wikipedia: "a group organized for the stated purpose of defending its rights and property against a tyrannical government." In this case, these groups would be founded and based in the U.S., and be engaging in paramilitary actions that threaten the security of those in the U.S. in the process.

For an accurate, if a tad out of date, listing of all militia groups compiled in 2013, the Southern Poverty Law Center provides an extensive list, with all 240 militia groups marked with an asterisk.

Greater threat: Greater means increased by comparison, threat means being a likely cause of damage or danger. More on this as I get into our burdens.

National security: Let's go with "a collective term for the defense and foreign relations of a country, protection of the interests of a country." In this case, the focus is mainly on defense of a nation's interests, which means physical protection of its people and property.

Foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs): Defining this can be somewhat nebulous. Best to go by the definition provided by the FBI for international terrorism:

"Involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
Appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
Occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S., or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum."

So any group that fits these definitions could be considered a terrorist organization by U.S. standards, though for the purposes of this debate, they must fit this definition and specifically be a credible threat to the U.S. itself.

To apply the definition most specifically and reasonably, I think we should have an accurate list detailing who is viewed by he U.S. government as an FTO. Hence, this list from the Department of State will serve as the main determinant for whether a group fits this definition adequately, though any probable additions would also be included.

As for the burden of proof, I'm going to make this as fair as possible and set the burden at entirely equal. It is my burden to show that FTOs present a larger threat to national security, as it is Pro's burden to show that U.S. militia groups present the larger threat. In the unlikely event that the two appear to present the same threat, I would advocate for a tie rather than for the vote to go to me. I feel that is the most equitable way to handle this debate. This is a fact debate (as neither of us is presenting a policy, nor are we arguing a value), which means it will be won by whichever one of us presents sufficient evidence/warrants to show that the threat is larger on our side of the debate. It is worth recognizing that it is neither of our burdens to show that the side we are arguing against presents no threat whatsoever; our burdens are to compare the dangers of the two, and weigh them against each other, knowing that both present obvious dangers.

The structure of the debate will be as follows:

R1: Acceptance, clarifications
R2: Opening arguments
R3: Rebuttals
R4: Rebuttals
R5: Rebuttals and conclusions

With that, I eagerly await my opponent's acceptance, and encourage him to clarify anything that is unclear at this stage.


Thanks to whiteflame for the compliments and for this debate! Whiteflame is truly one of the best debaters, and also one of the best voters, on the site, and I truly look forward to having an intense and engaging discourse with him. I accept this debate, and I am eager to begin!

As Round One is for acceptance and clarifications, there is one clarification I would like to make. The definition of U.S. militia groups (I may abbreviate these as USMG's) was given as "a group organized for the stated purpose of defending its rights and property against a tyrannical government." I would like to note that these groups "rights" need not actually be in jeopardy and the government need not be tyrannical for a group to be a militia group. It merely must perceive that its liberties are under threat, and state the protection thereof as its goal.

I'd also like to quote some additional background regarding these groups (using Con's same source) that can be folded into our understanding of them within the confines of this debate. I think this is important, because many of us have a better grasp of FTOs and have some sense of the role they play in our lives--for 13 years now, Al-Qaeda and it's affiliates, for instance, have been in the news. Islamic State, FARC, etc. have all captured headlines, but we are often less aware of the militia groups back home.

"Militia organizations in the United States are paramilitary out-growth of the independent survivalist, anti-tax and other causes in the patriot movement subculture in the United States. The formation of the militias was influenced by the historical precedent of existing paramilitary movements such as the Posse Comitatus and groups associated with protecting liberties of governed people. Although the far-right Patriot movement had long been marginalized, cultural factors paved the way for the wide-scale growth of the libertarian or ideological militia movement. This attitude corresponded with the perception that the federal government's powers and reach had increased greatly." [1]

We can meld then, the tyranny-based definition listed earlier by Con with this background information to say that militia groups are, specifically, right-wing, anti-government, paramilitary organizations. Historian Mark Pitcavage summarize this idea nicely, noting: "The militia movement is a right-wing movement that arose following controversial standoffs in the 1990s. It inherited paramilitary traditions of earlier groups, especially the conspiratorial, anti government Posse Comitatus. The militia movement claims that militia groups are sanctioned by law but uncontrolled by government; in fact, they are designed to oppose a tyrannical government. Adherents believe that behind the 'tyranny' is a left-wing, globalist conspiracy known as the New World Order. The movement's ideology has led some adherents to commit criminal acts, including stockpiling illegal weapons and explosives and plotting to destroy buildings or assassinate public officials, as well as lesser confrontations." [1]

These ideas are no better expressed than in this mission statement by the "Connecticut 51st Militia," "We are a constitutional militia. Our goal is to protect individual freedom and to insure that citizens constitutional rights are not infringed. People in todays society must realize that our 'freedom' is slipping away quite quickly and if 'We the people' don"t stop the erosion it will be too late. If we want to win 'we' must understand where the core of the problem truly lies." [2]

With that clarified understanding of the militia groups in question and with a bit of their background sketched out as well, I now turn things over to Con. Once again, thanks to Whiteflame for this debate, and Congratulations on making it to the final round!

Debate Round No. 1


Thanks again to bsh1. I accept all of his clarifications, as they are along the same lines as what I had originally intended.

I will use this round to build the case for why foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) present a distinct threat that outpaces that of United States militia groups (USMGs).

1. A history of harm

1a. By the numbers

From the years 2001 to 2009, 380 international terror attacks were executed against the U.S. That's compared to 91 domestic terror attacks. Both of these include independent actors, though a larger percentage of domestic attacks (especially the fatal ones) were committed by individuals with no obvious association with USMGs.[1] Recognize that while these are the instances in which threats were carried out against the U.S. in the past, they are merely historical references, not the sole basis for what will happen going forward and therefore only the base level of a threat.

Now, why should we care about numbers? First of all, more attacks in the past means an increased likelihood of more to come. That enhanced likelihood means an enhanced chance of physical harm (deaths and injuries). But second, this represents a larger fear, which is the main purpose of terrorism. Look at the places that are most commonly hit " businesses and diplomatic offices top the chart by miles. The idea is to break down infrastructure, to sow fear and show weakness in the government. Even the methodology, which is dominated by bombings, produces a very powerful effect along these same lines, making for large spectacles that can be seen across large areas. People feel that viscerally, and it has a deep effect on society. That impact may be partially the result of media coverage of the dangers involved, but it stems from the unpredictability and loss of control involved. To get an appreciation for its effects, let's look at the results of 9/11.

"A survey of residents of Manhattan in the months after the destruction of the World Trade Center published by the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002 found that 7.5% of the respondents reported symptoms consistent with PTSD and 9.7% reported symptoms consistent with depression. There was a direct link between how close one lived to the Twin Towers and the likelihood that you would develop PTSD. Twenty percent of those living in the vicinity of the World Trade Center showed signs of PTSD. The findings also emphasized the vicarious impact of the attacks: most of those displaying negative symptoms of PTSD and depression had not been physically at the Center when the attack occurred, they had not been in immediate danger and they were not related to direct victims."[2]

I would also argue that media coverage, being a direct result of the methods used to attack the U.S. and to incite terror, is a part of the harm to U.S. national security caused by FTOs. While FTOs may not be making the media reports themselves, it's obvious as a result of their methods that those reports are outgrowths of their campaigns of terror. Hence, even in periods when there have been no terrorist attacks, "terrorism has never left the public consciousness and has remained a high profile political and public issue." The issue gets even more complicated by the tools used for terror alerts: "When the color alert changed from yellow to orange these people showed increased levels of depression, anxiety, phobic responses and other signs of PTSD. When the alert levels dropped back, the symptoms again spiked indicating that public reminders of the danger acted as a stressor regardless of the direction of the change."[2]

But what makes FTOs special? Why don't USMGs generate this kind of fear? Well, for one thing, as Pro admits, they dominate media coverage, and therefore present a larger psychological problem. It generates a unique fear of the external, of an unknown and unassailable enemy abroad. Knowledge of who is leading a specific group doesn't make them and their networks any less nebulous to the majority of Americans, and that externality makes these groups viewed as more difficult to control. The fear that's generated is sometimes turned into boiling hatred, which has led to a series of killings. Whether it's an Indian immigrant being pushed onto the subway tracks, a string murders of Middle Eastern shopkeepers, beatings, or stabbings, anti-Muslim hate crimes have remained high ever since 9/11.[3] This is also a unique threat to national security, as vigilante justice disrupts society in numerous ways, not the least of which is that it often targets and ends the lives of innocent people.

To quote Yoda, an expert in counter-terrorism: "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."

There is also evidence that domestic terrorism incites international terrorism, and thus that domestic terrorism in any nation could affect our own. The same cannot be said of the reverse situation.[4] This is an important trend, showing that every domestic act of terror can stoke the flames of transnational terrorism, and therefore that incidences of international terrorism will continue to outpace those of the domestic variety.

1b. Gravity of attacks

Not all instances of terror are equal. The amount of fatalities and injuries don't mirror the number of incidences - the difference is actually far more staggering. In that 9 year timespan, the numbers of fatalities for domestic terrorism were a total of 8, whereas the numbers for international terrorism were 879, and that's excluding the almost 3,000 dead from 9/11. Injuries are even more disparate, with 53 domestic and 2,770 (again, excluding the 9/11 injuries). Despite a substantially reduced number of attacks in the 1990's, the number of injuries and fatalities per attack has increased substantially, and that's without including 9/11 (which, nonetheless, plays out the trend).[1] So there's a substantially larger direct harm resulting from international terrorism that can't be matched by the home-grown variety.

2. Going forward

But why would we logically expect these trends to continue? There are a number of logical reasons to support these conclusions. This could be the result of FTOs having a larger pool of people to draw from. Remember, these are international organizations. Large as it is, the population of the U.S. is 4 magnitudes smaller than the population of the world. No, we can't expect that entire population to be drawn upon for the purposes of supplying FTOs with manpower, but given that FTOs are now drawing members from across formerly impassable national, ideological and ethnic borders, much more of that population is accessible than ever before.[5]

These organizations are built within societies that are often highly stratified with large, disaffected portions of the population. Many FTOs are composed heavily of religious extremists, who have built their hatred against external bodies with the help of propaganda and desperation, and continue to build upon it with local populations.[5] While USMGs are composed of a similarly extreme set of members, their access to those numbers is far less, as they cannot unduly influence education, nor do they have as significant representation in government. Moreover, our ability to monitor those groups within our borders ensures that they're less likely to inflict dramatic harms. The Southern Poverty Law Center, for example, is specifically using their prodigious efforts to expose the dangerous activities of these groups, not to mention that their lawsuits have crippled those that have committed violent acts.[6]

FTOs present a much more difficult threat to address. In order to stop continued attacks, the U.S. would have to do one of the following: invade (as with Iraq and Afghanistan), use targeted strikes (broadly in use now), or get the permission of the country itself to permit military action. The first is highly costly, both in lives and on a monetary level; the second has led to numerous issues at home and abroad with regards to sovereignty and collateral damage; and the last is not always going to be available, as many nations have denied such access. The first two actually present threats to national security through our efforts to deal with FTOs. This is not to mention that, no matter how the government reacts, the local population would be incensed by the perceived injustice of many such acts, which in turn fuels FTOs by increasing their capacity for recruitment.

Taking this one step further, a substantial reason for the increased harms that these FTOs can dole out is their access to resources. USMGs are dependent on private donations to finance their efforts, limiting their supply of weaponry. FTOs are more commonly in a position to be supplied with more dangerous weaponry. This could easily involve the use of biological and chemical warfare meant to incite terror, something that many FTOs have demonstrated not only interest in acquiring, but have actively pursued, especially with regards to Al Qaeda. These weapons are also likely to be available to them through limited border controls.[5] For those who are supported by sovereign nations, with access to conventional weapons like missiles and even a larger possibility of acquiring nuclear weapons from countries like Iran (as is probable with Hezbollah and Al Qaeda),[7] the capacity for damage done is usually far larger for FTOs.

With that, I eagerly await Pro's opening arguments.



I sincerely thank Whiteflame for this debate, and I look forward to what I know will be an astounding round. Thanks also to Mikal for hosting this tournament and to anyone who takes the time to read this debate. I apologize for any errors that arose due to my Copy & Pasting from word. At this time, I will attempt to present a broad-picture look at USMGs, and to crystallize the impacts of these points later as the debate Progresses.

The question of whether U.S. Militia Groups (USMGs) or Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) pose the greater threat to the U.S. is one that is acting out in the present. Historic trends, while they can sometimes present insight into the future, are not necessary reflective of the security situation as it stands today, in 2014. Furthermore, if we substituted the term "domestic terrorists" for USMGs in the resolution, there would be no real difference. This topic is fundamentally a question of whether domestic terror is more threatening and insidious than foreign terror.

Before I get into a discussion of U.S. militia groups in particular, however, I would like to discuss the concept of "danger." Let"s suppose that you are in a room with 500 other people. There are two threats confronting all of you, and you have no option of escape; you have 30 minutes to respond, and only enough time to deal with one threat in that block of time. The first threat is a knife-wielding maniac, and the second threat is a bomb. You are unsure if the bomb will go off (a 50% chance), but if it does, all 500 people will die. You are sure that the knife-wielding maniac will kill 1 person every minutes. You are evaluating 500 potential deaths vs. 30 guaranteed deaths.

The question is, which threat poses the greatest danger? It is my assertion that, in theory, the bomb is the greater threat. There is still a substantial possibility that the bomb will go off (it"s a 50% chance, not a 1% chance), and the risk of harm is almost 17 times greater if the bomb goes off, as compared to the knife-wielding maniac. What I am trying to show, through this example, is that what is the greater threat should not be assessed merely through the frequency of attacks, but rather through the nature of the danger. Additionally, potential harms can still pose greater threats than actual harms. Therefore, there needs to be a holistic judgment of which poses the greater threat to the U.S.

Now that I have talked a bit about danger, I can move on to discussing USMGs and the specific threats they pose. USMGs have proliferated alarmingly since President Obama took over the Presidency in 2008. In fact, when Obama was sworn in, there were just 149 militia groups, seemingly a mere blip on our security radar. However, as of 2012, more that 1,200 such groups now exists--that is a 755% increase. [1] Experts believe, in addition, that much of the reason for this massive spike in USMGs is due to racial hatred in the Obama era. [2, 3]

In August of this year, a study declared that the Sovereign Citizen Movement (SCM) is the nation"s number 1 terrorist threat, even above FTOs like Al-Qaeda. [4, 5] "The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Response to Terrorism (START), which surveyed 364 officials from 175 law enforcement agencies, America's top perceived terrorist threat is an ideological subculture of extreme opposition to the government known as the sovereign citizens movement. The START survey found that 86 percent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that sovereign citizens present a serious terrorist threat, compared to 67 percent that said so of Islamic extremists." [4] The SCM is closely connected to USMGs such as the Praetorian Guard and the White Mountain Militia [4, 5] and, based on the expanded definition I offered in round one, the USMGs we"re talking about can fall under the umbrella of the SCM. There are around 300,000 members of the SCM throughout the U.S."the sheer size of their number is disquieting. Militia groups by themselves have been ranked the 3rd biggest security threat facing the U.S. [6]

The far-right extremism fueling USMGs is ripe with the potential for incredibly explosive violence. Recently, reports indicate that the standoff at the Bundy ranch involving the Bundy meta-militia has actually emboldened right-wing extremists and militias. [7] "The report warns of the potential for more violence, like the recent killing of two Las Vegas police officers by a pair of anti-government zealots--Jerad and Amanda Miller--who spent time at Bundy's ranch." [7] Along with the explosive growth of these groups, and the increased potential for violence they are posing, the number of actual plots they have undertaken has also increased: "In the last four years we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of conspiracy-minded, anti-government groups as well as in the number of domestic terrorist plots." Militiamen pose risks to public officials, and have attempted to assassinate several such persons. [1] Some additional examples of recent militia violence include a militia shared in 2012 with "plotting to buy explosives and the ingredients to make a deadly toxin to attack government officials;" a 2002 attempt by a militiaman to kill a federal judge; and a case where "seven people from the"Hutaree Christian militia are on trial for allegedly conspiring to ambush and kill a police officer. They allegedly plotted to follow up the ambush with an attack on the officer"s funeral procession in the hope of killing more officers, and thus sparking a revolt against the U.S. government. Recent evidence presented in trial included a recording"which the militia"s leader, David Stone, 47, says he is going to "start huntin'" police." [1]

If we consider the specific example of the Bundy Ranch [8] we can see the hundred of militiamen from around the country--heavily armed--preventing the U.S. government from enforcing the law. Clearly, such groups have no qualms with getting into a weaponized face-off with authorities and making locals fear for their safety. [9: see video] If enough heavily armed, ideologues confront a government they see as tyrannical, there is an undeniable potential for violence. And these ideologues are even more dangerous when the use the internet as a means to spread their ideology and train others in combat techniques. [10, 11]

Even the proximity of USMGs is threatening. Consider: (1) because foreign terrorists have limited access, they're more likely to plan bigger attacks which are easier to identify and stop, and (2) because domestic terrorists have greater access, they're less likely to only plan large scale attacks, and they're more likely to be lone-wolf actors, which are harder to identify.

At this point, we can conclude that USMGs pose a serious threat. They are heavily armed, they are militantly anti-government, they are willing to get into tense confrontations with government actors, and they are willing to kill to achieve their objectives. This serious threat is dangerous primary as the "bomb" in this scenario---it has the potential to explode to devastating effect. And, due to the fact that the militiamen are U.S. citizens, the U.S. cannot respond to militia-based violence in the same way as it does to FTO-based violence. Law enforcement do not track USMGs in the same way they do FTOs [1], the government cannot detain militiamen as it does terrorists, and so forth. In a sense, we know that shooting the knife-wielding maniac will stop him, but if we don"t know how to defuse the bomb, the bomb suddenly becomes more dangerous. We are hobbled in our ability to respond to the threat of USMGs vice FTOs, and that should give us pause for thought

There are a few key points to make here (1) USMGs are actively spreading their radical ideology, (2) USMGs have used violence in the past, (3) USMGs are on the upsurge in both membership and sheer number of USMGs themselves, (3) USMGs have dangerous lone-wolf elements, (4) USMGs are paramilitary organizations that are often heavily armed, (5) we cannot respond to USMGs as we would to other terrorist groups, and (6) there is a potential for explosive violence erupting from USMGs and their supporters. These are the main takeaways that we should be weighing in this round.

In summary, the bomb--the one that has the 50% chance of killing 500 people, the one we aren"t fully equipped to defuse--does indeed pose the greatest threat. Please Vote Pro.

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9 - see video
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Debate Round No. 2


Thanks again to bsh1.

Before I get into it, I'll state that we shouldn't conflate domestic terrorism and USMGs. The former encompasses individuals who do not identify with any paramilitary group, acting entirely alone. Individual school shootings that have resulted from all manner of mental illness and angst, for example, should not be considered unless they are an outgrowth of the efforts of USMGs. I don't think it was Pro's intention to include them, but I'm ensuring that that delineation is made.

With that, I'll get into some rebuttal.

The analogy:

Pro sets up an interesting analogy from the outset. He outlines a straightforward scenario in which we compare two dangers to evaluate which constitutes the larger threat. These include a bomb, which has a 50-50 chance of killing everyone in the room, and a knife-wielding maniac (which I'll abbreviate KWM), who is certain to kill 6% of the room's occupants. I agree with him that the bomb is the bigger threat. However, there are two problems with how well it links to the topic at hand (and with how well it supports Pro's case).

The first is that neither the bomb nor the KWM represent either of our factions. Both of our cases make it clear that we're discussing large potential threats, not small actual threats, as the main concerns. If we must analogize, though, the history of violence among USMGs places them as the certain but smaller threat by comparison.

The second problem is that the actual situation is not nearly so straightforward as the analogy portends. We cannot possibly analogize to a certainty or even a 50% chance what harm these groups present for us in the future. To a certain extent, we can assess them for likelihood, ranging from very likely to very unlikely. If a likelihood is vanishingly small, then no matter the possible impact, it should be ignored. At the same time, if the danger itself is incredibly small but the probability high, it should bear little weight. It is each of our burdens to present a case that carefully balances both substance and probability.

Onto the arguments proper. While many of Pro's points are, indeed, factually correct, those same points only establish a level of harm caused by USMGs. He uses connecting arguments that often fail to address the realities in FTOs in order to make USMGs sound more dangerous. I'm going to go through each of the points he listed at the end of his case, and evaluate his surveys.

1) Radical ideology

I agree that radical ideologies are spreading in America, however this is non-unique. I've already shown that this is also the case abroad, and that their allies are no longer confined to a particular ideology, let alone a national or ethnic group.

2) History of violence

Pro's evidence has only shown there to be small, isolated instances of violence resulting from USMGs. I've shown a much more dramatic trend of violence among FTOs, as well as their proclivity for highly destructive and extremely deadly acts of terror.

3) Membership

This is an extension of #1, as the spread of radical ideology is linked to an increase in membership and number of organizations. The separate implication made here is that more organizations is more problematic, but Pro never supports that claim. I would argue that the more disparate set of USMGs actually harms their capacity to execute large feats of terror due to conflicts between groups, especially since they all function in the same country.

Pro also assumes that increased membership translates to an increased propensity for violence. 300,000 is a lot of people, but without a direct link to violent tendencies in a significant portion of that group, it is just a empty figure. Meanwhile, the strength of a group like al Qaeda (which has roughly 6,000-8,000 members)[8] and that of ISIS (15,000, and possibly doubling)[9] matters quite a lot. The major reason for this discrepancy is that there are very different messages being used by sovereign citizens than there are in FTOs. Whereas sovereign citizens believe that they are above the law, and therefore that it is their patriotic duty to disobey it,[10] those in FTOs “subscribe or belong to the global jihadist movement,”[11] showcasing a clearly violent agenda. This means that, while USMGs do present a threat, that threat doesn't always – and, I would argue, only rarely – plays out as violence; in fact, the majority seem to focus on issuing threats, filing bogus lawsuits, cyber-stalking, and tax evasion. When they do lash out, it's often without a plan of action, committed in the moment and therefore with an often small impact.[10] The same cannot be said of FTOs, where the main goal is to commit orchestrated acts of terror that incite fear and inflict as much physical harm as possible.[12] Thus, every member of these FTOs is very likely to commit themselves to violence, whereas only a small percentage of those in USMGs will do so.

4) Lone-wolf elements

This is non-unique - lone-wolf elements are common in FTOs as well. There's Amine El Khalifi, who attempted “to detonate a bomb in a suicide attack on the U.S. Capitol,” believing “he was conducting the terrorist attack on behalf of al Qaeda” and Rezwan Fredaus, who “planned to use unmanned, remote-controlled aircraft to attack locations in Washington, D.C., including the U.S. Capitol,” espousing “loyalty to Bin Laden and al Qaeda,” as more prominent examples.[13] There's also those like Jose Pimentel, who used publications written by al Qaeda specifically for the purpose of encouraging the lone wolf model of attacks,[14] or are simply inspired by propaganda like ISIL.[15] Some are even trained directly, but allowed free rein, like Najibullah Zazi. Richard Reid, Iyman Faris, the Lackawana six and Ali al-Marri.[16]

However, we shouldn't assume that lone-wolf elements are the most dangerous simply because they're more difficult to identify. A major reason why USMGs and FTOs are far more dangerous than their lone-wolf counterparts is because they present a continuous threat that their untrained counterparts simply cannot achieve. Now, Pro might say that training can spread through the Internet; however, not only is this entirely non-unique (though publications like Inspire), it's also insufficient for producing trained terrorists with sufficient expertise to prevent them from killing themselves accidentally, let alone remaining a continuous threat.[17]

5) Heavily armed

Much of my case showcases how well FTOs are armed, their capacity for acquiring further, more dangerous arms, and from where they derive those arms. Pro has not done that. In support of his claim that they are heavily armed, he presents only the Bundy Ranch as evidence, which only showcases the use of sidearms and assault rifles.

6) Response/Tracking

Pro says that law enforcement doesn't track USMGs in the same way that they do FTOs. He's right. However, that's not nearly so big of a problem as he asserts. Quoting his [1]: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation does not track militia groups unless they are alerted to violent or extremist activity.” I already showed in the previous round that they are alerted to this activity by the SPLC. Pro will have to show how this and other avenues are ineffective reporting structures. He'll also have to explain why the normal system of arrests is insufficient. I'd say that local monitoring through groups like the SPLC is infinitely better than attempts to identify and monitor targets by more distant means.

7) Potential for explosive violence

This remains a bold claim with little in the way of support. FTOs have shown a p ropsensity for large scale violence with tremendous loss to human life. I spent much of last round detailing that very real harm. Pro simply doesn't establish a high probability of this kind of violence being utilized by USMGs, only claiming that USMGs are a powder keg ready to explode. He provides weak warrants through evidence of small, isolated acts of violence, and growing numbers of people becoming involved, each of which lack any solid link to an explosion of violence on a large scale.

8) Surveys

This is an appeal to authority. There is no reason why we should accept the opinions of law enforcement as evidence of USMGs being a greater threat. Public perception doesn't establish the reality, even among police officers. Even if it did, neither of the studies provided by Pro establish USMGs as the greater threat, as both of them showcase how law enforcement perceives the two threats individually, not how they compare to one another. While a larger percentage of officers might view sovereign citizens as a threat, this doesn't show that the percentage that view both as a substantial threat view sovereign citizens as the larger threat. Moreover, the view that they're the bigger threat comes from constantly having to deal with USMGs personally, something that police cannot say with regards to FTOs. They're biased by their experiences and by the increased likelihood of facing down sovereign citizens, which actually makes USMGs akin to the KWM from Pro's analogy – an actual, obvious, but small threat staring them in the face.

Back to Pro.













Thanks once again, Whiteflame! I will now rebut Con’s case.


By The Numbers

Con begins by citing a study that more foreign attacks occurred between 2001 and 2009 than did domestic attacks. He explains that, as FTOs seem to have attacked more in the past, they are likely to attack more in the present and future. I have four responses to this.

(1) As I showed in my previous round, USMGs experienced explosive growth in number and membership beginning in 2008. Therefore, much of Con’s data comes from a period where USMGs were not major operators in the domestic scene. [1] Con’s data is out of date.
(2) There is a sort of logical error in assuming that just because things happened in the past that they will continue to occur in the future. I might spend all afternoon on my porch Mon. through Wed., but then go in on Tues. Con needs to show not just that a pattern exists, but that a pattern is apt to continue unperturbed.
(3) We can’t solely base our assessments on frequency. I would again invoke the example of the bomb vs. the knife-wielding maniac to expound on this. And “gravity” is also not a great predictor for threat assessment, as frequency can outweigh that. There is a holistic judgment that needs to be made, and focusing on cold stats often doesn’t give us a good means of making that judgment, because we miss out on other, less tangible things.
(4) USMGs have a very real capacity to inflict harm. I will show that they are well-armed, organized, and aggressive. “Analysts say that the capacity for a terrorist attack by militant right-wingers is very real and has the potential to be as deadly as any foreign jihadist attack.” [12]

Next Con talks about the fear factor, whereby terrorists incite fear in a population, using fear as a weapon. Con also discusses how terrorist prefer to attack business and diplomatic targets. I have five responses here.

(1) USMGs target the exact same kinds of things FTOs do: businesses, government officials, government buildings, etc. [13]
(2) USMGs willingness to hit smaller targets and not just big targets (though they do like big targets too) may allow them to fly under the radar as Con agrees they do, but this anonymity makes them more dangerous. After 9/11 the whole country united and rallied together against the threat of FTOs. Since that time, our society has been laser focused on eradicating FTOs, and we’ve often succeeded in disrupting FTO operations. By going unnoticed, USMGs can engage or incite violent activities without suffering the same kind of retaliation as Al-Qaeda; this gives USMGs a freer hand to operate. This actually turns Con’s argument.
(3) Right-wing extremist groups like USMGs are historically willing to engage in the 9/11 style mega-attacks that Con says are so grave because of their ability to inspire fear. “The rise in extremist groups was ‘a cause for grave concern’ given their propensity to use violence during their heyday in the 90s, most notably with the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people… [S]upport for such groups were increasingly populist and that ‘signs of growing radicalisation are everywhere.’” [14] Prior to 9/11, the Oklahoma City Bombing was the deadliest attack on American soil ever. [15]
(4) FTO attacks on diplomats are actually in decline. [20]
(5) This is a redherring on Con’s part. Fear does necessarily indicate an actual threat to national security. Remember, national security is about the physical integrity of a nation, not how the people feel about being in the nation.


Next, Con discusses the media coverage (how is this a threat to our security?) given to FTOs. I have two responses.

(1) The fact that right-wing groups, including USMGs, are willing to engage in high-profile attacks as evidenced historically means that they have the potential to garner the same kind of media attention.
(2) Right-wing media spreads fear in a different way, promoting conspiracy theories that fuel the anti-government feelings that keep USMGs alive and well. People are coming to fear their own government, and that fear is bolstering the influence of USMGs. [14] USMGs themselves also fuel extremism through their own propaganda. [2, 4]

Con then goes on to posit that FTOs spur hate violence in the U.S. In fact, many USMGs are hate-based and apt to engage in hate violence. [2, 5] So, this is non-unique. As for Con’s claim that international terrorism doesn’t incite domestic terrorism, his own arguments about hate-violence defeat him. I am sure the Islamophobia resulting from 9/11 didn’t harm Neo-Nazi or Skinhead recruitment efforts.

Gravity of Attacks

Con states that from 2001-2009 more died of domestic terrorism than FTO attacks. Firstly, I already discussed how any stats from that timeframe are out of date, but, secondly, I have some contrary evidence from 2001-2014, which states, “According to a count by the New America Foundation, right wing extremists have killed 34 people in the United States for political reasons since 9/11. By contrast, terrorists motivated by al Qaeda's ideology have killed 21 people in the United States since 9/11.” [15] Consider also that USMGs are fully capable of launching major assaults and are extremely well armed. [13] To quote another source, “Some of these groups have been stockpiling weapons and ordnance of all types since the 80’s. Past plots to kill countless thousands by attacking a chemical plant in Texas and the manufacture of a ‘cyanide bomb’ that had the potential to kill every person in a crowded shopping mall proves that right-wing militants take a backseat to no one when it comes to terrorism and dream vividly of death on an apocalyptic scale.” [12] In fact, “There were more firearms possessed by the…Hutaree militia than by all 200 Muslim extremists arrested in the U.S. since 9/11.” [12]


Con observes that FTOs have a global pool of recruits. However, FTOs are based outside of the U.S., and our distance gives us some security. We can screen our boarders carefully to preempt many types of FTO-motivated or -organized attacks, though of course not all. Con even suggests that USMGs’ proximity helps us to monitor their activities, but this is offset by their privacy rights as U.S. citizens. Legally, they cannot be surveilled as we would do with an FTO.

Con also claims that USMGs influence government less. Yet, recently, CPAC, an important conservative gathering, was supported in part by the “Oath Keepers, a patriot outfit formed last year that suggests…the government has secret plans to declare martial law and intern patriotic Americans in concentration camps.” [14] Furthermore, prominent TV personalities and news groups are propagating the ideas of the Patriot movement that has spawned these USMGs. [14] The Tea-Party movement has also taken up causes of the patriot movement, [14] and right-wing extremist have sought an attained meetings with important government officials. [16]

Then Con lists a variety of means by which the U.S. can directly and violently combat FTOs, and explains how these fuel terror’s flames. He claims FTOs are harder to address than USMGs because of these limited options, but that isn’t accurate, since there are more options (financial restrictions, diplomacy, etc) than those in our toolkit. Moreover, Con never explains why FTOs are really harder to deal with. The U.S. government tried to arrest, in a mundane legal proceeding, Cliven Bundy’s cattle, and federal agents were met with massive, armed opposition. Given the nature of the militant, anti-government USMGs, they will oppose any attempt by the government to disrupt their activities.

Finally, Con discusses WMDs/NBCs as regards FTOs. I have three responses:

(1) NBCs are difficult for FTOs to attain and use. “Getting large quantities [of chemical weapons] and weaponizing them for mass casualties is difficult, and only nation states have succeeded in doing so.” [17] The same is true for biological weapons. [17] In fact, instances of NBCs attacks by non-state actors have shown that such actors are unable to deploy them more effectively than bombs.” [18]
(2) In the U.S., right-wing groups likes USMGs are more likely to acquire NBCs than FTOs as evidenced historically. “Moreover, since 9/11 none of the more than 200 individuals indicted or convicted in the United States of some act of jihadist terrorism have acquired or used chemical or biological weapons or their precursor materials, while 13 individuals motivated by right wing extremist ideology…used or acquired such weapons or their precursors.” [15]
(3) USMGs are already heavily armed, and likely have more weapons and more lethal weapons stockpiled within the borders of the U.S. than FTOs. That means that USMGs could likely inflict greater damage in a given confrontation.

I would just like to conclude by noting that experts place USMGs at least on par with FTOs in terms of the threat the risk they pose and potential to inflict harm they have. [19] Let's also, given the subject of this debate, take a moment to honor all those who died 13 years ago today, on 9/11. We'll never forget.


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Debate Round No. 3


Alright, thanks to bsh1 for an awesome round of rebuttals. Onto case defense - I'll stick to the running organization.

1. History of harm

1a. By the numbers

- The trend study

(1/2) Pro states that my data is out of date. A few problems here. First off, the study doesn't just extend from 2001 to 2009, though those are the figures I focused on. It extends back 40 years, establishing a long-term trend, which Pro doesn't address. I would say that such a long term historical trend presumes a continuation, and it's up to Pro to explain why that trend has vanished in the last 5 years.

Pro later points to a CNN link that contradicts mine. Unlike my link, however, his source isn't primary and doesn't allow you to peruse the individual instances of terror, and thus lacks verifiability. It also overlimits the data, ignoring every attack on U.S. troops abroad, which encompass the majority of al Qaeda terror attacks in that timespan and still affect our nation's security.[1]

(3) I've shown both a higher gravity and frequency through this evidence. I've also established a substantial likelihood for these acts to be perpetrated. The combination continues to outweigh Pro's case.

(4) Much of Pro's evidence focuses on the presence of this potential threat without any historical trends to support its occurrence. I laid out last round why an increase in membership doesn't equate to an increase in likelihood to commit to such devastating attacks, and how monitoring programs ameliorate any existing capacity.

- Fear

(1) The majority of Pro's examples have involved individuals who engaged in violence on or near their property. Attacking government buildings actually appears to be uncommon.

(2) Pro is trying to have it both ways. Here, he argues that USMGs fly under the radar, making them more dangerous. Later, he says that USMGs are willing to engage in high-profile attacks, which garner media attention. Either they're going to continue trying to remain anonymous, or they'll move on to bigger hits, not both. If it's the former, as Pro asserts here, an explosion of violence ruins their advantage. If it's the latter, then, just as with FTOs, the country rallies against them. Since he's arguing the former here, I will mention that most operations by USMGs are disrupted by the combined efforts of the reporting agencies and law enforcement, as evidenced by nearly all the examples we've cited. They're not anonymous.

(3) Interesting that Pro questions my evidence from 2009 on the basis that it's too old and then tries to utilize the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 as evidence that USMGs are willing to commit mega-attacks today. Recall that much of my analysis from R2 showcased a much higher death toll from FTOs without including 9/11 in the data. A single attack does not a trend make.

(4) Threats on diplomatic targets are still all too common, and they still play on those fears.[17]

(5) The harms are clear: people are mentally and physically harmed when suffering from PTSD.[18] This showcases a large harm that goes well beyond the physical vicinity of a terrorist attack. Pro drops it. He also drops that FTOs present a unique threat by engendering xenophobia and the associated acts of violence that also threaten our internal security. He says later that this is non-unique, but this presents an excess harm resulting from FTOs that aren't committed by them or their adherents, which makes it unique.

Pro says that I'm defeating my own point, but he either misunderstands or misrepresents my source. The primary evidence I provided shows that organized international terrorism doesn't incite organized domestic terrorism, whereas organized domestic acts of terror are linked to increased organized international acts. In other words, his impacts supercharge mine, but not the other way around.

- Media

(1) Again, I think Pro has to pick a stance on what's likely to happen and stick with it. However, he provides no evidence of a trend of high-profile attacks to support any evaluation of likelihood.

(2) The latter point here is really just an extension of radical ideology point, so cross-apply my response from there. Pro states that USMGs are engendering some level of fear of government in the general populous, but his link doesn't support this, nor does he explain on any level how this fear is damaging to national security.

1b. Gravity of attacks

Timely as Pro's evidence is, I've already shown mine to be more valid.

The only other point made here is that they can stockpile dangerous weapons. First off, in doing so, they put themselves in the cross-hairs of the FBI. His own source says these are illegal weapons, and that they're often caught and “charged with weapons, explosives, and/or conspiracy violations.” This shows that they actively create reasons to both track and arrest them before they ever commit a violent act. Second, all these weapons are similarly available to FTOs, often in larger amounts due to their associations with sovereign nations. Whether 200 randomly picked members that have been arrested possessed as many firearms at the time of arrest doesn't prove that they lack for weaponry. Third, there are substantially more damaging sources of weaponry available to FTOs, such as rockets, many CB weapons, and even nuclear weapons.

2. Going forward

Pro makes the argument that distance serves as protection. However, threats have to be recognized at the point of entry, and sufficient coverage of all points of entry is virtually impossible, as security measures can only cover “about two-thirds down the list in covering the routes and modes of concern to a nominal level,” which can all be avoided.[19] He says that privacy rights prevent monitoring, though that certainly hasn't stopped the NSA from wiretapping U.S. citizens.[20] Beyond that, the capacity to monitor everyone abroad encounters physical limitations in its scope, which Pro concedes is much larger.

Pro discusses how USMGs influence government. However, he's equating levels of influence that are starkly different. No part of the U.S. government is actively supporting USMGs financially or arming them, nor is the U.S. encouraging their violent activity. The fact that they've had meetings with government officials only proves that the government views them as a sufficient threat to meet with them. The same cannot be said of FTOs – Syria, Iran, and Sudan all have been designated as nations that “have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism,” providing arms, financial aid, and sheltering them.[21]

Pro then states that we have more options with FTOs. However, he gives two more, both of which have been incredibly ineffective. Public diplomacy, a necessity for dealing with non-state actors, has “not yet been realized” due to numerous U.S. deficiencies.[22] Sanctions haven't stopped Syria and Iran from contributing to these groups, nor has closing off other sources done much to stem their efforts.[23] Pro doesn't address any of my analysis on why other means present a huge concern, and how they create new threats to our national security and bolster the ranks of FTOs. The disparate nature of FTOs and the resulting difficulties with selecting targets is also dropped. Bundy's response to federal agents certainly presented a dangerous possibility, but it only resulted in a single armed confrontation that has mostly resolved with no casualties. Scary as it was, it doesn't compare to actual terrorist attacks, nor the potential of a random nuclear or missile strike. That's not to mention that the Bundy case actually shows the very clashes between USMGs I mentioned in the previous round.[24]

- NBCs

Pro never addresses the “N” here. Nuclear weapons are infinitely more accessible by FTOs than USMGs, as are missiles,[25] both of which are more effective than CBs for the purpose of killing people.[5] The Tokyo example just furthers this point.

(1) The key part of Pro's quote here is “only nation states have succeeded in doing so.” Remember, many of these terrorist groups are state-sponsored. To assume that access to the large quantities of CB weapons manufactured and weaponized by countries like Iran and Syria couldn't possibly fall into the hands of FTOs ignores a likely route of acquisition.[26] Whether they're given those weapons or they take them by force,[27] acquisition is a problem. The “erosion of state control over chemical and biological weapons (or their ingredients)” also allows them access that USMGs lack.[5]

(2) Again, those 200 individuals don't represent the capabilities of all FTOs. The article actually doesn't cite those 13 cases, but they likely had to manufacture their own, which presents with the exact same concerns of acquiring large amounts and weaponizing that Pro cited in the previous point.

(3) This is just an assertion of likelihood without warrants or evidence to support it.

Pro ends with an appeal to authority that, once again, focuses on opinion and fails to prove his point.

I do also join my opponent in mourning those lost on 9/11. I leave it to him to continue the debate.



Thanks, Whiteflame! I'll defend my case (though in a slightly different order from Con’s rebuttal.)


Con dropped that “Historic trends…are not necessary reflective of the security situation as it stands today.” Extend this point. It's important because Con’s evidence primarily focuses on historical trends, yet these may not reflect the present situation. Con must explain why his trends are apt to continue if those trends are to have weight in today’s debate. Yet, Con’s own source shows that, historically, FTO attacks are declining, whereas homegrown terrorism, such as domestic terror groups, is waxing. [21] So even the historical trends don’t align in his favor.

About the relationship between USMGs and domestic terrorists, I only meant to say the former fell under the umbrella of the latter. Finally, regarding the bomb example, the example itself may be imprecise, but what I really wanted to emphasize was: “what is the greater threat should not be assessed merely through the frequency of attacks...Additionally, potential harms can still pose greater threats than actual harms. Therefore, there needs to be a holistic judgment.”


Con suggests that the number of groups isn’t problematic. Yet, there are not just more groups, but they're more active (from relatively no activity to high levels of activity) and have a greater geographical reach. [12] Taken together, this is problematic, as these groups now have a greater network of support, are increasing their activities, and can potentially carry out attacks in more areas.

Then Con suggests USMGs will be more likely to engage in infighting. Con cites no evidence to support this claim, and I'd argue that the Bundy Ranch example [8] stands contrary to Con’s claim. In that case, many USMGs of various stripes banded together in support of Bundy, displaying unity. Even if Con were to somehow show that infighting occurs more in USMGs, this point is totally non-unique. Infighting occurs among FTOs all the time. Take the example of Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda; the former split from Al Qaeda and is now also fighting Al Qaeda forces in the Levant. [22] Yet, despite this infighting, Con cites IS as a major threat. Thus, (1) There is no evidence to suggest USMGs commonly engage in infighting, and (2) FTOs do commonly in-fight. Using Con’s own logic, surely USMGs are more dangerous because they have less infighting.


Con claims that the SCM doesn’t have a violent agenda, yet its membership does engage in violence and many of its members advocate for anarchistic violence [4, 23, 31]; many USMGs also engage in or incite racist violence [30]. Con then suggests that only a small percentage of SCM adherents commit violence, yet as the movement expands (as it is currently doing with alacrity) that percentage is representing an increasingly large amount of people--that's concerning.

Con then says the size of USMGs and the SCM isn't relevant, whereas the membership of FTOs is. This certainly seems hypocritical, as both espouse militant belief sets.

Let’s also draw distinction between attacks on U.S. troops and threats to national security. Threats to the way to protect national security, e.g. a military, are different than a threat to the apparatus protecting national security. The latter is an attack to the homeland and it interests whereas the former is an attack to the way the homeland is secured. There has to be a distinction between war and terrorism--shooting a soldier in a war zone isn’t the same as terrorism.

It's important to point out that FTOs aren’t very good at attacking the U.S. From 2011-2014, the deadliest FTO-motivated attack on U.S. soil has killed just 3 people. [24] This death toll does not seem significantly higher than anything USMGs or their supporters, such as the Millers, have been able to effect. Moreover, the U.S. is getting much better at thwarting FTOs and FTO-motivated attacks, halting at least 50 such assaults (and possibly many more about which the public is unaware). [25] “The fact that the United States has not suffered a large-scale attack since 9/11 speaks to the country’s counterterrorism successes.” [25] This source is specifically focused on jihadi terrorist efforts, underscoring how the U.S. is becoming more efficient at combating FTO efforts to attack the homeland. Even Con’s own source [21] agrees that the historical trend is that fewer FTO attacks against the U.S. are taking place, whereas, the Department of Homeland Security “suggested a resurgence of radical right-wing activity was under way.” [32]

Much of Con’s impacts come from a potential massive attack on the U.S.--not only is this unlikely given the U.S.’s ability to counter FTOs, but also, regarding Al Qaeda’s affiliates, “Rand Beers, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, said it appeared those groups would focus their operations on targets overseas, not in the [U.S.].” [26] USMGs, however, are concerned with the U.S. government, and are going to be focusing on attacks within our territory. So, when Con says that radicalism is growing everywhere, we should be more concerned about radicalism at home, because unlike the foreign variant, homegrown radicalism is more apt to be aimed at us vice some other target. So, Con's incorrect to say that FTOs are far more destructive.

Con claims that FTOs are better armed--this is something I addressed last round, citing how well-armed USMGs were and how unlikely it would be for FTOs to attain functional NBC weapons. To add to this latter claim, I would note that terrorists lack the wherewithal to actually weaponize a nuclear device, and that attempting to do so would be a long process that would leave them open to detection by authorities. [27] It would also require high levels of expertise that would be hard for FTOs to obtain. [27] In fact, there’s “no credible evidence that any terrorist group has ever succeeded in obtaining…the necessary…quantities of weapons grade plutonium, required to make a nuclear weapon.” [28]

Con then suggests that online training is “insufficient for producing trained terrorists with sufficient expertise to prevent them from killing themselves accidentally.” Con commits a bare assertion fallacy here. Also, a simple Bing search reveals many training websites that can inform you about everything from gun-care and -use to surviving in the wild with minimal supplies. And, what militias can’t show you, other sites certain can.

Finally, Con drops my card that shows that USMGs have been emboldened since the Bundy incident; this is important because it means that USMGs will be more apt to engage in violence now than before.


Con drops that FTOs are apt to go big. Extend this. Since no major attacks have occurred since 9/11, we must conclude that FTOs are failing to successfully carry out attacks.

Regarding lone wolves, Con points out that this is non-unique, and suggests that an inability to detect lone wolves does not make them more dangerous. Regarding the latter point, if an attacker cannot be identified, how can he be preemptively stopped? “With the exception of the attacks on the World Trade Center, experts say the major terrorists attacks in the United States have been perpetrated by deranged individuals who were sympathetic to a larger cause.” [29] Observe that Con never disagrees that lone wolves are harder to track either; extend this. As to the former point, sure FTOs may also have lone wolves but the NSA can and does intercept and review sans warrant all communication between Americans with foreign terror ties. There is also no prohibition on what the NSA and CIA can do to observe non-Americans, who may have ties with or be lone wolves. That isn't the case with strictly domestic lone wolves; they'll be even harder to identify, and as such, pose a greater threat.

Again, having caches of weapons within the borders of the U.S., a complex organizational network, and hundreds of members all within the U.S. make USMGs a bigger threat than FTOs, which don’t have these advantages.


The SPLC monitors USMGs, but it does not necessarily report on each individual USMG, so the FBI cannot always use their reports as grounds for monitoring. Additionally, even when the FBI monitors a USMG, it is handicapped because U.S. citizens still have due process protections that most FTO members simply don’t have. For instance, a USMG may be extremist, but that in itself isn’t illegal; probable cause must be shown before wire taps, search warrants, or arrests can be made. By the time that threshold is met, it may be too late to stop an attack. Since no such threshold exists with most FTO members, it is easier to respond to threats posed by those groups. Also, arrests will antagonize USMGs, leading to more confrontations.


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Last round, [2, 5] and [2, 4] should've been [12, 15] and [12, 14], respectively.
Debate Round No. 4


One last thanks to bsh1 for a fantastic debate.

I, too, will be changing the order to reorganize the issues and provide a set of weights and measures by which voters can determine who won this debate.

It is because I agree with Pro that this debate should be evaluated holistically that I see three basic components to identifying the threat posed by FTOs and USMGs:

1) How likely are they to engage in security-threatening attacks?

2) How much damage are they capable of inflicting?

3) How frequently will they inflict damage?

I will go back through the major arguments, link them directly to one or more of these issues, and evaluate their outcomes.

A. History

Both of us argue that trends may establish an increased likelihood, albeit we disagree which trends. Pro says that I dropped his argument, but simply saying historic trends may not agree with current realities is insufficient, especially as I've defended this one on multiple levels: a) that the history extends far further than he assumed, containing decades of data that can't be dismissed as random, b) that a trend like that doesn't come to a sudden halt without reason, which he hasn't provided, c) that it's more reliable than any source he's given regarding trends, recent or not, and d) that histories like this are the sole way to evaluate any likely outcome without tremendous speculation.

Pro tries to use my source against me here, but falsely claims that domestic attacks are waxing when they've also waned between 2001 and 2009.[1] The numbers for international terrorism are also still larger than those for domestic by 2009. Worse yet, Pro has still not addressed my other study, which shows that organized terror on a domestic level incites organized international terror, but not vice versa, further showing a higher likelihood.

B. Ideology

This is mainly regarding frequency and likelihood, since ideology is the basis for recruitment, and recruitment is essential to both.

Note the terms Pro uses: “many of its members advocate”. He never counters my points on overall ideology, never shows that these members make up a significant percentage of USMGs, and doesn't show that they recruit from violent populations. As such, he fails to show that USMGs as a whole have a predisposition for violence. Lacking that, violence appears to be an aberrant, uncommon outcome of their cause. Expansion doesn't factor if Pro can't make a solid link to increased violence. Pro claims that the likelihood that they'll attack us is higher because they're all here, but a capacity is not equivalent to a desire, so this still fails to prove any level of likelihood.

I've shown, without rebuttal, that the SCM is far more prone to committing fraud than violence.[10] I've also shown how FTOs are built on committing acts of violence, how their ideology leads them to draw from those violent populations, and therefore how every member is an enhanced threat of violence in my case.[11, 12] This establishes a link between membership and violence that is absent from Pro's case.

C. Resources

This chiefly involves the capacity to inflict damage. I've shown how only FTOs are sponsored by states, how that sponsorship is insensitive to sanctions, and how they therefore have access to missiles, and weaponized NBCs. All of Pro's responses miss that point, and in fact only do harm to his own, as USMGs are the only ones that would be required to make these weapons themselves, and therefore have the resultant difficulties he's mentioned. The damage resulting from usage of any of these weapons far outweighs anything else available.

D. Numbers

This is an assessment of frequency and likelihood; numbers influence the amount and probability of instances of terrorism.

1. Members

Pro has yet to provide a sufficient link between increased membership and increased attacks. He says they're highly active and have a large network, but without the violent ideology, these don't equate to more violence. He says they have a large geographical reach, but the international reach I've cited for FTOs far outdistances it.

2. Groups

Pro is incorrect, I did provide evidence of infighting, and it was even at the Bundy ranch.[24] In fact, infighting and violence has driven a decline in the number of active USMGs since 2010.[30] Pro is correct that there's infighting between FTOs as well. However, his own argument works against him here. There are far more USMGs than FTOs, all clustered together in the same country trying to accomplish similar, yet distinct, goals. They get many more opportunities to come to blows, and therefore have a far higher likelihood of sabotaging each others' efforts.

E. Targets

This involves levels of damage through strategic choices. Whether physical or psychological, terror attacks have demonstrable impacts to our security. Targeting bsinesses remains a big problem, and I've already shown how threats against diplomatic targets have continued in large waves even while there have been fewer successful attacks. In each case, they deeply affect the psyche. Pro tries to delineate between deaths of U.S. troops abroad and national security, but that's unreasonable when their deaths abroad directly affect our ability to defend ourselves at home, and since they are committed by FTOs, their incidence fits the resolution.

I've also shown how attacks like 9/11 induced incidents of PTSD that go well beyond the site of impact. I've shown that threat levels and media trends, which Pro has admitted are both far more prominent for FTOs than USMGs, can cause psychological trauma, even when threats are decreasing. I've shown how that resultant fear has led to even less security in the U.S. as a result of efforts to engage in misguided vigilante justice. These are unique harms Pro cannot garner.

F. Detection/Prevention/Response

This involves likelihood of committing a given act of terror and being able to do so again at some later date.

1. Lone wolf

Pro remains unresponsive to my point that lone wolf terrorism resultant from FTOs is all too common, which both shows his point is non-unique and also functions as a response to Pro's point that FTOs are apt to go big, as each example shows. His only response is that they're tracked better, but he provides no evidence that this is the case. The ability to utilize warrantless wiretaps hardly matters when the targets are so much more difficult to locate. Moreover, warrants are easily available when the members of USMGs are engaging in illegal behavior, which is part and parcel of their mission statements.

Pro similarly drops all of my analysis as to why a lone wolf terrorist is actually less dangerous, most notably my link regarding the short term nature of their threat and accidental deaths, something he falsely claims is a fallacious.[17] So even if this is more common among USMGs, that weakens his case.

2. Monitoring

Extend my argument that scope makes it practically impossible to track FTO member. Also, extend my point that the U.S. still has to physically intervene to remove a threat, requiring exact knowledge of their locations, and putting us at further risk. Lastly, extend my point that USMGs are monitored constantly by outside groups like the SPLC. Pro's response that they can't then be monitored by the FBI is countered by his own statement that many of these groups gather large caches of illegal guns and the fact that they flaunt many of their illegal activities to showcase their disdain for U.S. legal structures, both of which provide probable cause.

3. Thwarting

This is non-unique. Thwarted terror attempts are par for the course among USMGs as well [28, 29], and Pro's major example, the Bundy ranch, is an instance where cooler heads prevailed. The failure of U.S. public diplomacy means cooler heads don't prevail in confrontations with FTOs. That means they must be physically stopped every time, as other means don't exist, increasing the likelihood of attack. The fact that there hasn't been another 9/11 means as much as the fact that there hasn't been another Oklahoma City bombing – it doesn't establish a counterterrorism success, only the absence of a failure. That's not to mention that counterterrorism efforts abroad, while they have splintered certain groups, have also given them space “'to situate themselves' to operate autonomously,” making them more difficult to track and affording them anonymity.[31]

4. Response

I've shown how the necessary responses to FTOs consistently threaten our national security. Pro says that our responses to USMGs can also bolster them, but at best, this just washes with my argument that the same responses abroad embolden FTOs. All of my other points about how they can cause backlash from sovereign nations and place many numbers of lives on the line go dropped. These are substantial threats to our national security unique to FTOs.

G. Conclusion

I've established that FTOs represent the greater threat using all three components. Much of Pro's case has been built on appeals to authority, showcasing opinions that don't advance his case while dropping my criticisms of them. His case lacks logical consistency, creating contradictory impacts in an effort to win every component and weakening his clearest impacts in the process. At most, Pro has established that USMGs have the capacity to engage in more frequent attacks due to their proximity, but lacking any link to likelihood and any similar measure to FTOs of their capacity to do damage, Pro's case simply doesn't hold up his weighty assertions.

Vote Con.






Thanks, Whiteflame, for a superb debate!


History of Harm

By the numbers


1 + 2. Pro has failed to justify why this trend is going to continue--we can't simply assume that it will. Con needs to show why it will continue since he is the one making claiming that it's valid. Regardless, attacks against U.S. diplomats (a prime target of FTOs) have been falling [20], USMGs are becoming more active and numerous, [12] and right-wing terror in the U.S. is said to be "resurgent." [32] These are all reasons to believe that the trend isn't going to continue. From Con's own source:

International Terrorist Attacks Against the US

Regarding the CNN source, it provides links to its own sources within its text. If Con had clicked on the words "by contrast" he could've looked at the primary source data. Thus, Con's main objection here is moot. Con also says I over-limit the data and that we can't delineate between attacks on troops abroad and our national security. Again, though, threats to the way we protect national security and threat to national security are different; if I am a random lunatic who kills a soldier, I am not threatening national security as an institution, even though I've harmed the way we protect national security. The two concepts are distinct.

3. Con agrees on a holistic assessment.
4. I do provide evidence on how USMGs are becoming more of a threat.


1. The FBI writes, USMGs target "law enforcement personnel, representatives of the courts, and other public officials, along with government buildings." [13] This expert analysis should be preferred here.
2. USMGs are not the primary focus of the counterterrorism effort; that means that they will continue to proliferate with less hindrance from authorities until one of their big attacks works. In the meantime, they will continue to engage in small attacks that slowly add to their body count. Con says that many USMG attacks are disrupted by law-enforcement--this is non-unique, as many FTO attacks are disrupted too. [20, 21]
3. Con's evidence from 2009 is too old as the trend that it is attempting to establish is void due to the recent proliferation of USMGs. The fact that USMGs are violent hasn't changed. I can cite several incidents, such as the Oklahoma City Bombing, the attempted Cyanide Bombing, an attempt to kill dozens of police officers in Michigan, and a shooting spree at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, that all underscore the potential for explosive violence. [12]
4. PTSD is not an impact weighable under the resolution. Con never disputes that fear does not indicate an actual threat to national security. Also remember that post 9/11, the nation was incredibly united against terrorism--9/11 did more to galvanize the War on Terror than anything else. In that sense, FTOs have only made us stronger.

My evidence shows that USMGs are organized groups that are often racist. [12] The Islamophobia that FTOs have inspired in the U.S. (Con never denies that FTOs have intensified anti-Muslim feeling in the U.S) is only stoking the fires of racist USMGs. So international terrorism does promote organized domestic terrorism.


Con drops that right-wing media is promoting radical ideology. Propaganda about how government is a threat to our liberty has measurably increased fear of the federal government. 37% of voters now fear it and 54% consider it a threat to liberty (up from just 45% in 2012). [33] The danger here is that this fear will fuel anti-government USMGs.

Gravity of Attacks

I already defended my CNN evidence.

Not all weapons owned by USMGs are illegal, probable cause would still be needed to search stockpiles, and only some of the offenders are caught. There are likely stockpiles out there that have not yet been discovered. Just look at the massive amount of weaponry present at the Bundy Ranch--it shows that USMGs can muster large amounts of weaponry and men within U.S. borders. Con has not shown that FTOs have any comparable capability. In fact, my evidence shows that of all 200 FTO members caught in the U.S., a single USMG was better armed. [12] Con says this doesn't show that FTOs lack arms, but it does imply that FTO members have fewer weapons inside the U.S.

Going Forward

Con has offered no evidence to suggest that FTOs have been able to smuggle weapons in significant amounts into the U.S. In fact, my earlier source about the 200 FTO members implies that they can't. Also, the border is more secure than it was 20 years ago, and tighter security is credited "for one-third of the drop in migration between the late 1990s and 2010." [34] So yes, distance does hinder FTOs ability to attack the U.S. because it is getting progressively harder for people to penetrate our borders.

Con's source says the NSA wiretapped citizens making overseas phone calls or who had known associations with FTOs; that's inside the NSA's purview. However, the NSA cannot randomly intercept domestic communications, such as those of USMGs. [35]

Con asserts that no one in the U.S. government is supporting USMGs. Yet, my source reads, "LePage and [the USMG] discussed...the group's push to have two top Democrats in the legislature...arrested for 'high treason.' In response, LePage then apparently said 'they"re talking about hanging them.'" Gov. LePage then helped the group "in their effort to make this happen by trying to enlist a county sheriff to intervene with the state attorney general." [16]

I showed last round indicates that FTOs are no longer focusing on the U.S., and Con never disputes that FTOs engage in infighting as well, so that's non-unique.


I talked about Nuclear weapons in R4.

1. Con's source 26 never says that NBCs are likely to fall into FTO hands from states; Con's source 27 is a Russian News Agency that supports Assad, and claims that Assad's opponents used NBCs--it's not a credible source. Con's source number 5 admits that there is no trend indicating that FTOs will successfully acquire NBCs.
2. I already defended this.
3. My source 12 warrants it.

Lastly, even if FTOs acquired NBCs, Con has offered no credible evidence that they could effectively use NBCs.


1. Trends

Con dropped evidence that showed that USMGs have been emboldened since the Bundy Ranch incident, [7] that USMGs were more numerous and vastly more active since 2008, [12] that the DHS considers right-wing terror to be "resurgent," [32] and that in the last four years, domestic terror plots have dramatically increased in number. [1] I've also shown that right-wing terrorists have killed more people since 2001 than FTOs or their followers. [15] These are all reasons to believe that USMGs are becoming more and more of a threat. Conversely, FTOs are becoming less of a threat; Con concedes that attacks on diplomats are declining [20], and I've shown evidence that the U.S. is becoming more able to respond to terror [25] and Con has show evidence that international terrorism is actually in decline. [21] Con talks about the importance of trends; the trends actually show that USMGs are waxing and FTOs are waning.

2. USMGs are harder to Combat

Con agrees that U.S. citizens have privacy rights, and his one attempt to rebut this (the NSA example) failed because Con's source showed that U.S. citizens were only directly targeted when they had known ties to FTOs. Therefore, there is no real evidence against the fact that the privacy rights of USMGs hinder government's ability to surveil and respond to threats posed by them, whereas the government faces no such restrictions in dealing with FTOs.

3. USMGs' Proximity

To first attack the homeland, FTOs must get through our borders or inspire converts. Many lone wolves associated with FTOs are targets for the NSA because they have those associations. Our borders are more secure than they've been in years, and Con has offered no evidence to show that an FTO could successfully carry out another larger-scale attack in the United States. USMGs, however, are already here. Their lone wolves are targets for surveillance and they have stockpiles of weapons and hundreds of men already within our borders. These are all advantages that USMGs have which FTOs don't.

4. Political Influence

USMGs and extreme right-wing ideologues have been garnering increasing influence in the United States. [14] They have even involved high level government officials in plots to hold illegal kangaroo courts to try elected officials for "high treason." [16] Their influence in certain quarters of our political landscape in itself makes them dangerous as they can leverage this influence to try to prosecute terror.

5. USMGs are better Armed

Con has not shown that FTOs are likely to attain NBCs--at most, Con has shown that in extremely rare cases NBCs can be acquired. Con does not even respond to my evidence about how unlikely it is that FTOs could attain nuclear weapons. I have shown that USMGs have not only acquired NBCs, but have possessed them within U.S. borders. [15] Also, besides NBCs, USMGs are likely to be better armed within the U.S. They have stockpiles of weapons, whereas known FTO associates were lightly armed by comparison. [12] Since Con offers no competing evidence to show that FTOs are actually better armed, prefer mine.

The trends favor USMGs. USMGs exist within our borders, are protected by our due process and gun rights, and are militantly anti-government. They are well-positioned to use their caches of weapons, paramilitary training, and fanaticism to carry out devastating attacks within the U.S. Also, in the past 13 years, USMGs have killed more people in the U.S. than have FTOs. Thus, USMGs are the bigger threat. Please VOTE PRO! Thank you!


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Debate Round No. 5
252 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
First and only debate between us thusfar.
Posted by Voltazier 1 year ago
before this debate*
Posted by Voltazier 1 year ago
You have debated before? Could you send me the link, please?
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
Posted by tejretics 1 year ago
Wait...have you debated before?
Posted by lol101 1 year ago
whiteflame making a >:) face? :0
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
Nope >:)
Posted by Romanii 1 year ago
wait wtf that wasn't the first you guys were debating? O_O

holy shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit
Posted by thett3 2 years ago
"I would also argue dat media coverage, bein a gangbangin' finger-lickin' direct result of tha methodz used ta battle tha U.S. n' ta incite terror, be a part of tha harm ta U.S. nationistic securitizzle caused by FTOs. While FTOs may not be makin tha media reports theyselves, itz obvious as a result of they methodz dat dem reports is outgrowthz of they campaignz of terror yo. Hence, even up in periodz when there done been no terrorist attacks, "terrorizzle has never left tha hood consciousnizz n' has remained a high flava ballistical n' hood issue." Da issue gets even mo' fucked up by tha tools used fo' terror alerts: "When tha color alert chizzled from yellow ta orange these playas flossed increased levelz of depression, anxiety, phobic responses n' other signz of PTSD. When tha alert levels dropped back, tha symptoms again n' again n' again spiked indicatin dat hood remindaz of tha dark shiznit acted as a stressor regardless of tha direction of tha chizzle.""
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Vote Placed by Wylted 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD will be posted tomorrow.
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Vote Placed by Ajabi 2 years ago
Who won the debate:--
Reasons for voting decision: I have been requested by Mikal to vote on this debate. I would love to do so, however I am only too aware of my own incompetence, and ignorance in such matters. I will therefore asked to be excused from voting on this no doubt marvelous debates between two "titans".
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Vote Placed by Max.Wallace 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Both debaters are common pants.
Vote Placed by TN05 2 years ago
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Vote Placed by Comrade_Silly_Otter 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Alright gonna clean this up a bit. I side with pro due to his points on what can be done to monitor FTOs but can't be done in Militias ( Due to their US Citizenship ). Militias are in a better position to cause more damage in the event of a attack then FTOs. I do agree with Con that there is a small danger of a NBC's, however its unlikely to get past our borders.