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The benefits of domestic surveillance by the NSA outweigh the harms

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/21/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,204 times Debate No: 39291
Debate Rounds (5)
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Resolved: the benefits of domestic surveillance by the NSA outweigh the harms.


Benefits-something that is advantageous or good; an advantage (random house dictionary)

Domestic surveillance- close watch kept over one's own country (webster's dictionary)

NSA-National Security Agency (random house dictionary)

outweigh-To exceed in weight value, importance, influence (random house dictionary)

harms-physical or moral injury (random house dictionary)

Contention I) Improves our security.

We the people, of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, and ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense..." There it is, in the preamble of the constitution, the document our founding fathers fought for, lived for, and died for, a perfect illustration of why Domestic Surveillance is necessary and why the benefits, fulfilling the principles stated, and protecting American lives, clearly outweighs the harms. The first sentence of this document states that our government has the responsibilities of providing for our defense and ensuring domestic tranquility. With constant terrorist attacks, and the lack of information leading up to them, basically the absence of the NSA, the government is nowhere near fulfilling the requirements of the Constitution thus causing extreme harm to our nation. Domestic surveillance by the NSA is just one of many aspects the government has put in place to follow through with the principals created by our founding fathers. According to the NSA, their primary role is to collect information through various legal procedures, including PRISIM which was authorized by FISA In section 702 in 2008 of FISA an act passed by Congress in 1978 to establish procedures for requesting judicial authorization for foreign intelligence surveillance and to create the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court; intended to increase United States counterintelligence; separate from ordinary law enforcement surveillance, according to Dr. James Jay Carafano. My opponent may say that this is a clear violation of our fourth amendment, but in fact is not. Procedures are in place so that FISA warrants are granted to obtain information in a completely legal and Constitutional abiding means. Now, please allow me to explain why there is utterly no harm of what the NSA is doing. Simply collecting and scanning information has absolutely no impact on human lives. Those citizens who are not involved in any terrorist activity should have no concerns as it will not impact them. A direct quote from President Obama, "Our intelligence professionals must be able to find out who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they're planning," "The lives of countless Americans depend on our ability to monitor these communications." This means, that the benefit, is upon our ability to view these communications and legally intercept and prevent the potential attack. The benefits of the legal surveillance, prevent potential terrorist attacks, save countless lives, provide for the common defense and ensure domestic tranquility. So as you can see, the completely legal domestic surveillance, not spying, by the NSA, provides very little, if any at all harm to Americans, but provides numerous benefits of saved lives, increase in national security, and peace of mind for

citizens in a completely lawful, safe way that has virtually no harm to American lives, ideals, or principles in any way, shape or form.

Contention II) Surveillance is useful in combating domestic terror

Fernando Reinares, a Professor of Sociology and Politics, writes, "Given the clandestine and unpredictable nature of terrorism" resources may not be effective unless they are accompanied by mechanisms for detecting and preventing future threats. Reliable intelligence is an essential tool. Experience shows that, as long as the other components function as they should, success in the state's counter-terrorism campaign is directly proportional to the emphasis placed on the gathering and analyzing of reliable information" when intelligence is insufficient or inadequate, the terrorist group" will not hesitate to exploit this advantage by escalating its campaign of insurgent violence. In 1976"the Italian Government decided to dismantle the special anti-terrorist units it had created only a few years earlier" Terrorist attacks, which until then had been diminishing in frequency, immediately began to pick up and did not ease again until the early 1980s." John Carafano of the Heritage foundation adds, "At least 60 Islamist-inspired terrorist plots have been aimed at the U.S. since the 9/11 attacks. The overwhelming majority have been thwarted thanks to timely, operational intelligence about the threats. Congress should not go back to a pre-9/11 set of rules just to appeal to populist sentiment. Congress and the White House have an obligation to protect our liberties and to safeguard our security" in equal measure." Domestic surveillance therefore has real impacts on preventing terrorist attacks within a nation like the U.S.

Contention III) The threat to privacy posed by domestic surveillance is incredibly small.

The U.K."s Daily Mail reports, "the Internet carries 1,826 Petabytes of information per day. In its foreign intelligence mission, NSA touches about 1.6% of that" However, of the 1.6% of the data, only 0.025% is actually selected for review. The net effect is that NSA analysts look at 0.00004% of the world's traffic in conducting their mission" that's less than one part in a million. Put another way, if a standard basketball court represented the global communications environment, NSA's total collection would be represented by an area smaller than a dime on that basketball court." As Security expert Sir David Osmund notes, what the U.S. and other states need "is the possibility of accessing the communications of the terrorists" But those communications are all mixed up with everyone else's communications" So you have to have a powerful capability to find the small amount that you are looking for. But it doesn't mean that the state is reading everyone's emails, nor would that conceivably be feasible." Furthermore, there is oversight of the NSA designed to prevent egregious oversteps of authority. The Las Vegas Sun Newspaper states, the NSA "is subject to oversight by both Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. If the effort were being operated without due regard for privacy, the other branches of government could push back. For the most part, they apparently have approved of what's gone on." U.S. Deputy Attorney-General James Cole testified that domestic surveillance is not "a program that has been hidden away or off the books. In fact, all three branches of government play a significant role in the oversight" the judiciary, through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court plays a role" The executive branch conducts extensive internal reviews to ensure compliance. And Congress

passes the laws, oversees our implementation of those laws, and determines whether or not the current laws should be reauthorized and in what form."


Noun: surveillance
Close observation, esp. of a suspected spy or criminal.
"He found himself put under surveillance by military intelligence"
Synonyms:observation, scrutiny, watch, view, inspection, supervision; spying, espionage, infiltration, reconnaissance; informal bugging, wiretapping, recon
"We learned later that we had been under surveillance"
Origin: early 19th cent.: from French, from sur- "over" veiller "watch" (from Latin vigilare "keep watch").
(Google Definition)
By this definition of surveillance, it is indeed considered spying and infiltration.

A process in which individuals (or small groups) penetrate an area (especially the military penetration of enemy positions without detection).

The military uses infiltration to penetrate enemy positions without being protected, so why should average Americans phone calls be traced for no apparent reason?

"The U.S. National Security Agency violated rules on surveillance of telephone records for almost three years and misled a secret court, raising fresh concerns that spy programs lack adequate controls to protect Americans" privacy.
The latest revelations show NSA spying was broader, violated restrictions on domestic surveillance more often, and may have targeted innocent Americans to a greater degree than previously known. They are contained in documents released yesterday by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in response to privacy groups" lawsuits.
The agency ran a select list of phone numbers against databases of millions of call records between May 2006 and January 2009 without having reason to suspect some of the numbers" owners of terrorist ties, according to the records.
"The court entrusted NSA with extraordinary authority, and with it came the highest responsibility for compliance and protection of privacy rights," NSA Director Keith Alexander wrote in one of the declassified documents. "In several instances, NSA implemented its authority in a manner inconsistent with the orders, and some of these inconsistencies were not recognized for more than two and a half years."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy-rights group in San Francisco, sued the NSA to obtain the documents that had been issued by a secret intelligence court.
"It"s pretty damning," said Trevor Timm, a digital rights analyst with EFF. "This shows a larger pattern that a lot of times the NSA doesn"t alert the court to serious privacy violations, whether they are intentional or unintentional, for years down the road."
Court Rules
The violations involved checks on as many as 16,000 phone numbers, including some based in the U.S., said two senior intelligence officials with direct knowledge of how the program operated. They asked not to be identified in order to speak about sensitive matters.
Intelligence officials notified the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees intelligence gathering on Americans, of the violations on Jan. 15, 2009, five days before President Barack Obama was sworn in.
Among other violations, a "significant" number of domestic telephone numbers were added to lists for heightened scrutiny without proper review, according to an Aug. 17, 2009 filing by the NSA with the court. The agency said it had remedied the violations through better training and technological fixes.
"Deeply Troubled"
Between March 2009 and September 2009 the court required the NSA to get approval for each number it wanted to query. In September of that year the court approved revised procedures that allowed the program to continue, the official said.
Within three weeks, the NSA reported that unauthorized personnel had been given access to some of the records. U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, serving on the surveillance court, wrote of being "deeply troubled by the incidents." He ordered the parties to appear at a hearing to assess whether to shut the surveillance program down. He didn"t take that step.
The NSA collects bulk phone records, such as numbers and call durations, from companies including Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act.
Under the law, the agency must have "reasonable, articulable suspicion" that a phone number may be connected to a terrorist plot to query it against the larger database of records.
Alert List
Between May 2006 and January 2009, NSA analysts would query the database with thousands of numbers on an "alert list," the intelligence officials said. Those numbers didn"t meet the necessary legal standard for ongoing searches, the officials said.
The alert list grew from 3,980 in 2006 to 17,835 in 2009, one of the officials said. About 2,000 numbers on the list in 2009 met the necessary standard, the official said, meaning almost 16,000 didn"t. The alert list was shut down on Jan. 24, 2009, according to one of the declassified documents.
The NSA misled the surveillance court during those years by certifying the legal standard was met for all numbers queried, the official said.
Alexander described to the court in a Feb. 13, 2009, filing how mistakes were made in using the alert list. Four days later, the Justice Department submitted a memorandum to the court saying declarations made by Alexander were inaccurate and that the government didn"t have the authority to use the list in the manner it did.
Compliance Remedies
Remedies put in place "should significantly improve compliance with the court"s orders," Alexander said. He added that "no corrective measures are infallible." Remedies include software that prevents queries about numbers not on an approved list, Alexander said.
It wasn"t the first time the NSA has acknowledged violating surveillance rules or misleading the court.
The NSA said last month that, in a handful of cases, some employees or contractors deliberately spied on people of interest to them, including for romantic motivations.
Separately, a legal opinion declassified Aug. 21 revealed that the NSA intercepted as many as 56,000 electronic communications a year of Americans who weren"t suspected of having links to terrorism, before the secret court that oversees surveillance found the operation unconstitutional in 2011.
In a declassified legal opinion from October 2011, the court said the agency misrepresented the scope of surveillance operations three times in less than three years.
Government Audit
A May 2012 internal government audit found more than 2,700 violations involving NSA surveillance of Americans and foreigners over a one-year period. The audit was reported Aug. 16 by the Washington Post, citing documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The extent of the phone metadata program was exposed in June by Snowden, who"s now in Russia under temporary asylum. He revealed a classified legal order compelling Verizon to turn over the phone records of millions of customers to the NSA.
The administration acknowledged that the phone metadata program involves multiple telecommunications carriers in an Aug. 9 description of how the program works, without naming other participating companies.
Yesterday"s disclosures were made in response to a judge"s order in a freedom of information lawsuit brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The group sued after the government didn"t respond to its requests to turn over documents describing its collection and surveillance efforts. In November the government asked U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California, to toss the case, saying the EFF sought documents that were exempt from disclosure to protect national security.
"Flawed Interpretation'" (

NSA has been unlawful about their "Surveillance" before, why trust them now?
Debate Round No. 1


Round 2 will be rebuttals, and you answer my questions then write your own:
In the 3rd round I will answer your questions and provide another argument.

Can you give me an example of how the programs lack adequate controls to protect Americans?

And again, give me an example of when they targeted innocent Americans to a greater degree?
These are all the questions I have.


sadella25 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


ginga_ninja forfeited this round.


sadella25 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


ginga_ninja forfeited this round.


sadella25 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


ginga_ninja forfeited this round.


sadella25 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by joemaddoggy 2 years ago
@ginga_ninja - Nice copy and paste ( ) Epic fail, can't even make your own arguments
Posted by WorldofPeace 3 years ago
The blood of a virgin to understand....that was pretty mean
Posted by sadella25 3 years ago
Daaaaaawwe derp.... i aint cut out for dis shizzel... xD im such a smart a$$
Posted by ginga_ninja 3 years ago
haha it's the current debate topic just click I accept, you will have 72 hours to research it
Posted by sadella25 3 years ago
So... where did you Google this wonderful mixture of enormous words that you need a dictionary, internet, experience and the blood of a virgin to understand? XD
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