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The Contender
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6 Points

Wikileaks is a threat to US National Security

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/15/2011 Category: News
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,932 times Debate No: 14796
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




Thanks to my opponent for agreeing to debate this with me :)

I affirm the resolution that Wikileaks IS a threat to the United States' national security.

Before starting my case, I'd like to define a few key terms:
Threat is defined as "declaration of an intention or a determination to inflict harm on another"
National Security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the nation-state through the use of economic, military and political power and the exercise of diplomacy. National Security includes the deterrence of attack, from within and without, as well as the protection and well-being of citizens.

CONTENTION I: Wikileaks, in its quest to spread information about injustices, could provide an opportunity for misinformation to be spread.
Wikileaks claims that all of its information is accurate, but in reality there is no way to be sure of this. Just like Wikipedia, the accuracy of the information is difficult to gauge. Misinformation could in turn lead to conflict and ultimately endanger our country simply because falsehoods could result in panic. According to the Army Counterintelligence Center "Because anyone can post to the site and there is no editorial oversight, the public may use Wikileaks as a source of misinformation, or to create lies or propaganda to promote a positive or negative image of a targeted audience". And because Wikileaks doesn't have American interests in mind, it is more likely to misuse this power. Julian Assange's British lawyer, Mark Stephens, warned that WikiLeaks was holding further secret material, which he dubbed a 'thermo-nuclear device' to be released if the organisation needed to protect itself. WikiLeaks security comes first for Stephens and Assange, and they are clearly willing to jeopardize America if they deem it necessary.

CONTENTION II: Wikileaks exposes our vital interests, which in turn endangers our country and those who supply the information.
Political official, Newt Gingrich says "Julian Assange is engaged in warfare, information terrorism, which leads to people getting killed, is terrorism. And Julian Assange is engaged in terrorism". Some of the recent documents leaked put several US citizens' lives in danger, which by definition threatens US national security. State department spokesmen PJ Crowley even claimed that the spill of cables could put lives at risk. If lives are at risk, then national security is thus being threatened- because the well-being of citizens isn't being protected.

B: According to several Council of Foreign Relations experts, the recent release of over 250,000 diplomatic cables obtained by Wikileaks has the potential to impact U.S. efforts in the Middle East, Pakistan, and elsewhere. Robert Danin, one of the experts from the CFR, states that some contacts have already refused to meet with U.S. diplomats. Maintaining good relationships for open exchanges, etc. is incredibly important for our country, and Wikileaks only harms this. Moreover, CFR expert John Campbell suspects African leaders will find some of the leaks "hurtful," which will affect their response to U.S. requests for African support in multilateral organizations like the United Nations. This would be a huge loss and harm to US and larger efforts, all because Wikileaks opened hurtful information up to the public.

CONTENTION III: Wikileaks is a danger to U.S. diplomacy.

A: By exposing important information, it puts the country at a greater risk for terrorism. According to Army Times, "A recent document spill by WikiLeaks included detailed and blunt exchanges between foreign and U.S. officials on such politically sensitive matters as a top-secret U.S. bombing campaign in Yemen" Not to mention, Joe Biden says"There is a desire now to meet with me alone rather than have staff in the room. It makes things more cumbersome. So it has done damage." Similar comments were made by the Defense Department, where spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said the military had seen foreign contacts "pulling back" and that "generally, there has been a retrenchment." Foreign relations have been damaged and thus national security is being threatened. National Security depends on foreign relations assistance in many instances.

B. While under prosecution, "Assange was reportedly threatening to release a 'deluge' of leaked government documents should he come under threat from foreign governments" Says Macnicol of Business Insider. He directly threatened the US with his infinite data, and demonstrated that wikileaks can harm the US national security. According to the Daily Mail UK Assange has "distributed to fellow hackers an encrypted 'poison pill' of damaging secrets, thought to include details on BP and Guantanamo Bay." This is a direct declaration of intentional harm on the US.


I'd like to thank my opponent for the debate. Let's get started!


Rebuttal 1: Contradiction
If wikileaks spreads misinformation, then it does not expose vital interests. If it is known to spread misinformation, it does not hamper diplomacy. If vital interests are not exposed, it would be known to spread misinformation. Thus Pro's first contention contradicts his second and third.

Rebuttal 2: No editorial oversight allows misinformation to spread
First, wikileaks does have editorial oversight. Information sent to wikileaks is reviewed and verified by a team of journalists[1]. Random users cannot edit the material. Julian Assange's position as editor-in-chief [2] naturally implies that there must be other editors as well. Secondly, if misinformation were to be allowed to be spread, surely it would have been done already? It is in the interests of the United States Government, for example, to post misinformation on wikileaks and therefore undermine their legitimacy and protect national assets. However, they are unable to do this because of the editorial process.

Rebuttal 3: Wikileaks doesn't have American interests in mind
Only insofar as that they are unbiased towards America. As a media organisation, wikileaks needs to remain unbiased and fair in their reporting. If my opponent wants to exclude all media organizations which are not pro-America, he also wants to exclude the truth from being told. If he doesn't want to hear the truth, then he might as well fabricate his own lies. Additional material held by wikileaks, in accordance with their policy of free information, would of course be made available if the site were to be shut down. Mark Stephen's weapon is not aimed at America in particular, but rather against all governments with secrets to hide. Assange has made it clear that he has plenty of leaks to release for other governments, such as Russia, and organizations, like BP or Bank of America[3]. These leaks are only a threat to America if they are true.

Rebuttal 4: Some of the recent documents leaked put several US citizens' lives in danger
Does this mean journalists cannot publish details of successful bank robberies, to plan for the eventuality that perhaps, somebody might be inspired by them? I thought you guys in the states still had the first amendment? Any release of information can potentially put lives at risk. There must be a balance in the media between the chance of lives being put at risk and freedom of information. Aside from the subjective opinions of US government officials, there is no evidence that any lives have been put at risk by Wikileaks [4]. Besides, take a look at precedent. Leaks have happened out of the US government before. Nobody has ever died as a result. Why should this time be any different?

Rebuttal 5: Wikileaks has the potential to impact U.S. efforts in the Middle East, Pakistan, and elsewhere
If diplomats refuse to see the US because of Wikileaks, then the US can only blame itself. In the famous words of Google CEO Erik Schmidt, "If you have something you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place" [5]. However, I doubt that efforts have been seriously hampered. As Jimmy Carter, former US president, notes: "I think the long-term damage will be much more minimal than is presently ascribed" [6].

Rebuttal 6: African leaders will find some of the leaks "hurtful"
Oh, do you mean how wikileaks exposed the corruption of President Moi in Kenya [1]? Yeah, he probably did find that leak very hurtful. The Kenyans promptly elected a new president. At no stage were United Nations aid efforts affected. If CFR expert John Campbell is willing to make this claim, perhaps he would be able to show a little evidence for it. Sadly, he has none! By way of contrast, all the evidence is that Africa is not disadvantaged by wikileaks more than everyone else.

Rebuttal 7: National Security depends on foreign relations assistance in many instances
So maybe they shouldn't have lied to their foreign relations. Maybe they shouldn't have spied on them. The leaks reveal the contradictions between the United States public and internal policy [7]. Put all the pieces together and you will see that by spying and lying on US allies, the US has compromised the security of their allies. You cannot compromise one person's security and expect them to respect yours. Nonetheless, no US ally has quit an alliance with the United States directly because of wikileaks. All foreign relations assistance from before 2008, when wikileaks began, is still at the side of the US despite their insults.

Rebuttal 8: Wikileaks 'poison pill' is a direct declaration of intentional harm on the US
Just wanted to make this very clear. Despite the alternative terminology, the poison pill referred to is the same as Mark Stephen's thermo-nuclear device. See rebuttal #3 above.


Argument 1: Secrecy is not a pre-requisite of good governments
The common reason why governments say they need to keep secrets is to defend their citizens. Why embassy profiles on Iceland's and New Zealand's prime ministers are secrets needed for defense purposes, while profiles of Osama bin Laden are routinely outputted by the US embassy, is beyond me. I have three sub-arguments. The first is that there is never any need for secrecy between allies and one's own citizens. Even if there are traitors in our ranks (though I highly doubt al-Quaeda has a secret New Zealand base), the fact that everyone knows of the dangers and the truth of the situation makes everyone more vigilant and able to respond to terrorist threats. My second sub-argument is that, especially in times of war, accountability is important [8]. War has huge costs involved, most of them not economic. If the United States government is not held accountable by their own people over these costs, they cannot be a democracy, because the interests of the people are not controlled [9]. My third argument is that the wikileaks didn't actually reveal any important infrastructure and are thus not a threat to any government's defense efforts [10].

Argument 2: Wikileaks is not the threat ... people that leak are
Wikileaks publishes verified material that they are sent, provided it is not available already and is in the public interest. There is nothing wrong with doing this. The publishing of the pentagon papers by the New York Times and Washington Post caused the US Supreme Court to remark: "only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government" [1]. If the US is to have a free and unrestrained press, it will have wikileaks. Wikileaks would be nothing, however, without leaks. All of the arguments you make about endangering lives and diplomatic effects are in fact arguments against whistle-blowers, not the wikileaks organisation itself.

I have two more arguments, but I'll leave them for next round to give my opponent a chance to respond to my analysis so far. In conclusion, wikileaks is a powerful pressure media organisation that has done nothing to be a threat to US national security. It has done what every other media outlet would have done, not revealed anything critical, hardly hampered diplomatic efforts, challenged present levels of accountability, and acted fairly. That's why I am proud to oppose the motion.


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Debate Round No. 1


megabyte2694 forfeited this round.


My opponent has demonstrated an inability to respond to even the simplest of counter-arguments. Vote con.
Debate Round No. 2


megabyte2694 forfeited this round.


Well, I'm not really sure what more I can possibly do to win this debate. Vote con.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by megabyte2694 5 years ago
Soo sorry I didn't get an email reminder that you posted a new round, and I just went to a tournament on this topic- I am kind of all talked out of it and just got home about 10 minutes ago from Harvard.
Posted by larztheloser 5 years ago
@aperry1: That is because pro has the burden of proof. Of course I'll do more rebuttal than building of my own case, because that's what I'm required to do. You can't criticize me for that!
How can you say pro "upheld" their case better when they forfeited the last round? They didn't uphold their case at all!
Posted by aperry1 5 years ago
I believe the pro should win because of the simple fact that they supported and upheld their case better. The con spent too much time trying to refute the pro's case and not enough time building their own case.
Posted by dinokiller 5 years ago
idk, the killing of unarmed civilians was real sooooo, i support wikileak for bringing that piece of truth.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.