The Instigator
Con (against)
19 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
21 Points

The CIA and other agencies involved in covert operations should be forced to release information

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/5/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 14 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,000 times Debate No: 1373
Debate Rounds (3)
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Without a doubt, I believe that the CIA and other agencies should not be forced to relay information to the public.
A quick over view of my points

1)Public would not approve
Just look at the anti-war sentiment in America today. Would the public support the assassination of an known-terrorist aid in Iraq? Would the public support the CIA wire-tapping a neighborhood and capturing a known child molester? Currently, the public can only hear the mistakes of the CIA because they can not report their success

2)Politicians would not approve
If the public does not approve, why would politicians? they rely on support from the people.

3)Foreign countries would not approve
We do not want to go to war with Russia. But what happens if a Russian is sneaking enriched uranium to a country. Would it be wrong for teh CIA to stop it. No, but Russia would not think so.

4)Operations would be compromised
Say teh CIA was tracking someone. They told the media. Person ran. Simple to understand


I am assuming this debate pertains to covert US agencies.

Furthermore, I will not defend the position that covert agencies must be forced to release ALL information, as this is patently ridiculous. What I will defend is that covert agencies should not be exempt from Congressional oversight, which necessarily requires some degree of transparency and the power to demand information.

1&2) I am grouping these arguments together because they are essentially the same.

i. Whether the public would or would not approve is irrelevant to the debate. The only relevant issue is whether or not releasing information would hinder investigations and whether or not this outweighs the benefits of departmental transparency.

ii. As a pre-emptive argument: disapproval of tactics would not necessarily force covert agencies into changing their tactics. An example of this would be the current controversy over the use of water boarding as an interrogation tactic. Much of the public and many politicians do not approve of this tactic but we have not seen an immediate cessation of water boarding as a method of interrogation. What we have seen is widespread public debate over the issue.

iii. If the public and politicians would disapprove of covert agency tactics, perhaps we should be asking the question "what are they doing that would incur so much disapproval?"

3) i. I am confused as to how your argument is supposed to work. If the CIA were stopping Russia from smuggling enriched uranium, wouldn't Russia be aware of it? Is your argument simply that if foreign countries knew the CIA and other covert agencies were working against them, they would disapprove? Please explain exactly how the CIA being forced to release information would cause international disapproval.

ii. There is no impact to this claim. So what if foreign countries disapprove of covert agencies conduct? How does this matter? This argument has no impact and cant be evaluated in this round.

iii. Foreign countries already disapprove of the US for other reasons such as the war in Iraq. The international disapproval we have received because of Iraq overwhelms whatever disapproval we would receive if the international community found out about our covert activity.

4) i. Saying that operations would be compromised is a broad statement which cant be evaluated. Which operations? To what degree would the be compromised? What is the effect of this? In short, your lack of specifics makes this argument impossible to evaluate.

ii. This argument is only true in certain circumstances. There is plenty of information the public should know that would not compromise operations. Intelligence sharing can be conducted in a manner such that only pertinent information is revealed and specifics such as names, dates and locations remain confidential. Other practices such as giving grace periods for producing information allows covert agencies time to wrap up operations before handing over information. Congressional and public investigations are generally understanding of the need for a degree of confidentiality.
New arguments:

5) i. The only way to prevent abuse of power is to instill checks and balances. This is a fundamental principle of our government. The ability for the public and Congress to demand transparency from covert agencies is the only way to put a check on these agencies. Without oversight, there would be no way to know what sort of activities these agencies engage in.

ii. Covert agencies HAVE committed abuses of power in the past.

Source: Nojeim '05 [Gregory, Chief Legislative Council, American Civil Liberties Union, Testimony before the Committee on Senate Select Intelligence, April 19, p. l/n, accessed 5/12/05]

The special power to secretly search a home or office, without ever notifying the owner, is among the most intrusive domestic surveillance powers available to the federal government. Such "black bag jobs" were the hallmark of national security investigations run amok, including COINTELPRO and other investigations of civil rights activists, anti-war activists, and other Americans who in the end were guilty of nothing more than peacefully opposing government policies.

The inappropriate use of a secret search power, without court oversight, led directly to warrantless wiretaps of civil rights leaders and, eventually, an unauthorized "black bag job" at the Watergate, sending a shock wave through the nation and prompting thorough and searching reviews of the intelligence community.

iii. Oversight is necessary to keep intelligence gathering methods in check. Methods such as torture, unwarranted search and seizure, seizing people and holding them without trial (especially citizens of the U.S.).

6) The public and especially Congress needs information to set policies. In order to properly judge how to spend money and alter security related policies, Congress needs as much information as possible. It is foolish to expect the legislative body of the US to function effectively without the ability to retrieve whatever information it needs.
The public needs information in order to vote in an informed fashion. The activity of covert agencies like the CIA reflect the actions of the president and other elected officials. Knowing what these agencies are doing is important to gauge how well the executive branch is doing its job.
Debate Round No. 1


Congress regards oversight as "the authority to conduct inquiries or investigations of the executive, to have access to records or materials held by the executive, or to issue subpoenas for documents or testimony from the executive."
To testify or issue a subpoena leads to the same thing
The giving up of evidence and information regarding the inquiry.
This means one thing
ALL classified evidence becomes available to the public
The reason we have covert operations is so they can stay COVERT
Any evidence released is evidence that can be used against the CIA, etc.

i. If the public disapproved, they can convince key politicians to stop the actions of the covert agencies. Furthermore, if the politicians disapprove, they can hold a subpoena can and delicate information MUST be released.
ii. Water boarding is currently a hot topic for legality. And there is a good chance it will become illegal. So yes, covert ops are being compromised and made illegal by public protest

iii. It doesn't matter if we agree or not. We are so used to peace and havnt been exposed to the horrors of war for some time. The CIA allows us to wage war without getting dirty. But the point is, we disapprove of many war tactics, and we always will. We consider killing immoral today, but what if it saved millions of lives? Would most americans look that far? The answer is no.

3) i. Let me rephrase. If the CIA commits an action against UN laws, but it is for the good of America, and the information of an operation reaches the ears of the foreign country, the country would be displeased with the US

ii. Covert operations attempt to keep peace and NOT make war. Wars could start if a country believes the CIA is conducting illegal ops on their grounds.

iii. We are already hated, so why worry about pissing people off further? That makes a lot of sense. Already fat, why not eat some more? We must not FURTHER instigate hate.

4) i. Specifics:
CIA has information that, if released to the public, would compromise any operation involved. Why? Positions, dates, and identities of people would be known to all, even those the operation is directed to. This leads to either a scrapping of operation, or possible sabotage of operation.

ii. Any congressional investigation leads to any available information available. Congress might be understanding, but is it worth the risk of American lives?

5) i. Under normal political cases, yes, you are right. But the covert sector of government is a little different. They have no check on the other spheres of government. This instance is one sided check. They, instead, live in a world where they ask for approval, then perform. That is the check Congress has. The approval of operations.

ii. There is a difference between withholding information and getting caught committing un-authorized acts. This example does not apply to the current debate over sharing information

iii. Congress authorizes ops, so any information involved in the operation does not need to be shared. Why? Because they can't do anything like torture without approval

6) The CIA MO is to protect America. Any information that Congress or the President would need to make decisions would be shared. There is no reason why the CIA would with hold information that is need to help America. Why? Because the information, if it could possible do any help, would be gathered at the end of the op. Thus, the information, if needed, would be released.


Raisor forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


i wont make any more arguments
so to fill the 100 character limit
secrets are sometimes best left unsaid
ok cheesy quote


School has started.

I am most likely done with this site forever.

Have a nice life.

Au Revoir.
Debate Round No. 3
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Vote Placed by Pricetag 14 years ago
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Vote Placed by tjzimmer 14 years ago
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