State Surveillance

Be it resolved state surveillance is a legitimate defence of our freedoms…

May 2, 2014

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It is the debate of the moment. In a risk-filled world, are democracies justified in turning to large-scale state surveillance, at home and abroad, to fight complex and unconventional threats? Or is the emergence of the surveillance state and the awesome powers it derives from information technology a new and pervasive threat to our basic freedoms? For some the answer is obvious: the threats more than justify the current surveillance system, and the laws and institutions of democracies are more than capable of balancing the needs of individual privacy with collective security. For others, we are in peril of sacrificing to state surveillance and exaggerated terrorist threats the civil liberties that guarantee citizens’ basic freedoms. To engage this global debate our spring 2014 contest moves the motion:

Be it resolved state surveillance is a legitimate defence of our freedoms....

The Results

Pre-Debate

33%

Pro

46%

Con

21%

Undecided

Post-Debate

41%

Pro

59%

Con

Con wins with 13% vote gain.

The Debaters

Michael Hayden

Michael Hayden

Pro

"It is the security practitioners, those rarely in the headlines but whose craft and energy quietly break new ground, who keep us safe or put us in peril."

Michael Hayden

Michael Hayden

Pro

"It is the security practitioners, those rarely in the headlines but whose craft and energy quietly break new ground, who keep us safe or put us in peril."

General Michael Hayden is a retired four-star general who served as director of the CIA and principal deputy director of National Intelligence at a time when the course of world events was changing at an accelerating rate. As the director of the country’s keystone intelligence-gathering agency, he was on the frontline of geopolitical strife and the war on terrorism. He understands the dangers, risks, and potential rewards of the political, economic, and security situations facing the planet.

General Hayden became director of the CIA in May of 2006, capping a career in service that included nearly 40 years in the U.S. Air Force. He served until 2009. Earlier, after being appointed by President Bill Clinton, Hayden served as the director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and chief of the Central Security Service (CSS) from 1999–2005. During his tenure as director he worked to put a human face on the famously secretive agency. Sensing that the world of information was changing rapidly, General Hayden directed an effort to explain to the American people the role of the NSA and to also make it more visible on the national scene.

From 2005–2006, General Hayden served as the principal deputy director of national intelligence, the highest-ranking military intelligence officer in the country. In this capacity, he oversaw the entire intelligence community, including the CIA, NSA, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office.

General Hayden entered active duty in the U.S.A.F. in 1969 after earning a bachelor of arts in history and a master of arts in modern American history, both from Duquesne University. In his military career, General Hayden served as commander of the Air Intelligence Agency and director of the Joint Command and Control Warfare Center. He has also served in senior staff positions at the Pentagon, at the headquarters of the U.S. European Command, at the National Security Council, and the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria. The general has also served as deputy chief of staff for the United Nations Command and U.S. Forces in South Korea.

He is currently a principal at the Chertoff Group, a security consultancy co-founded by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Hayden also serves as a distinguished visiting professor at the George Mason University School of Public Policy.

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Alan Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz

Pro

"The state now is moving much more from reacting to violence to a proactive, preemptive, preventive mode of intelligence gathering."

Alan Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz

Pro

The state now is moving much more from reacting to violence to a proactive, preemptive, preventive mode of intelligence gathering.

Professor Alan M. Dershowitz is a Brooklyn native who has been called “the nation’s most peripatetic civil liberties lawyer” by Newsweek. He is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Dershowitz, a graduate of Brooklyn College and Yale Law School, joined the Harvard Law School faculty at age 25 after clerking for Judge David Bazelon and Justice Arthur Goldberg.

He has also published more than 1000 articles in magazines, newspapers, journals and blogs such as The New York Times MagazineThe Washington PostThe Wall Street JournalThe Harvard Law ReviewHuffington PostJerusalem Post, and Ha’aretz. Professor Dershowitz is the author of 30 fiction and non-fiction works with a worldwide audience, including The New York Times #1 bestseller Chutzpah and five other national bestsellers. His autobiography, Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law, is being published in October by Crown, a division of Random House. Earlier titles include The Trials of ZionRights From WrongThe Case For IsraelThe Case For PeaceBlasphemyPreemptionFinding Jefferson; and Shouting Fire.

His writing has been praised by Truman Capote, Saul Bellow, William Styron, David Mamet, Aharon Appelfeld, A.B. Yehoshua, Elie Wiesel, Richard North Patterson, and Henry Louis Gate, Jr. More than a million of his books—translated in many languages—have been sold worldwide.

In addition to his numerous law review articles and books about criminal and constitutional law, he has written, taught and lectured about history, philosophy, psychology, literature, mathematics, theology, music, sports – and even delicatessens.

In 1983, the Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith presented him with the William O. Douglas First Amendment Award for his "compassionate eloquent leadership and persistent advocacy in the struggle for civil and human rights." In presenting the award, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel said: "If there had been a few people like Alan Dershowitz during the 1930s and 1940s, the history of European Jewry might have been different." Professor Dershowitz has been awarded the honorary doctor of laws degree by Yeshiva University, Brooklyn College, Syracuse University, Tel Aviv University, New York City College, Haifa University and several other institutions of learning. He has also been the recipient of numerous academic awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship for his work on human rights, a fellowship at The Center for The Advanced Study of Behavioral Sciences and several Dean’s Awards for his books.

He has been the subject of two New Yorker cartoons, a New York Times crossword puzzle, and a Trivial Pursuitquestion. A sandwich at Fenway Park has been named after him—pastrami, of course.

He is married to Carolyn Cohen, a PhD psychologist. He has three children, one a film producer, one a lawyer for the Women’s National Basketball Association and one a professional actor. He also has two grandchildren, one a college junior and the other a college freshman.

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Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald

Con

"Surveillance equals power. The more you know about someone, the more you can control and manipulate them in all sorts of ways. That is one reason a Surveillance State is so menacing to basic political liberties."

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald

Con

Surveillance equals power. The more you know about someone, the more you can control and manipulate them in all sorts of ways. That is one reason a Surveillance State is so menacing to basic political liberties.

Glenn Greenwald is an investigative journalist and columnist for First Look Media. Formerly a constitutional and civil rights lawyer, he is the author of the three New York Times bestselling books, including How Would a Patriot Act? in 2006 and With Liberty and Justice for Some in 2011. The Atlantic named him one of the “25 Most Influential Political Commentators” and Foreign Policy called him one of the “Top 100 Global Thinkers” of 2013. His latest book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, will be released on April 29th.

Greenwald became a political writer in 2005. He was a columnist at The Guardian and Salon, writing about civil liberties, national security, and US political and media culture. He won numerous awards for his work, including the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism in 2009, and an Online Journalism Association Award for his investigative work on the abusive detention conditions of Bradley Manning.

In June 2013, Greenwald published the first of many stories related to classified N.S.A. surveillance programs from the trove of documents leaked by Edward Snowden. His NSA reporting has won numerous prizes around the world, including the top Online Journalism Association award for investigative journalism, the Esso Award for Reporting in Brazil, and the Pioneer Award of 2013 from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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Alexis Ohanian

Alexis Ohanian

Con

"Every other country in the world looked at us as a role model for privacy and freedom. And we dropped the ball."

Alexis Ohanian

Alexis Ohanian

Con

Every other country in the world looked at us as a role model for privacy and freedom. And we dropped the ball.

Alexis Ohanian is a serial Internet entrepreneur and co-founder of reddit, the social news website used by over 100 million people each month. Named to the Forbes“30 Under 30 in Technology” list two years in a row, he has been lauded as the “Mayor of the Internet” for rallying public opposition to the U.S. Congress’s Stop Online Piracy Act. Ohanian is the author of the national bestseller Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made Not Managed.

While at the University of Virginia, Alexis met his future co-founder Steve Huffman during freshman year move-in day. Though he had originally planned to become an immigration lawyer, he experienced an epiphany in his junior year (while sitting in a Waffle House) that led him to the realization that he didn't want to practice law. Instead he convinced his best friend Steve to start a company with him.

During their senior year Alexis and Steve were invited to join the first class of Y Combinator, a new seed stage venue firm. The idea they pitched would become reddit.com.

Sixteen months after he graduated, reddit was acquired by Condé Nast. Alexis continued to manage product and business at reddit until leaving in 2010 to volunteer in Armenia for Kiva.org. Today he sits on the board of reddit, inc., which last month alone had over 80 million unique visitors and is one of the 50 biggest US websites.

In August 2010 Alexis joined the team at hipmunk, Steve Huffman's second Y Combinator start-up. Alexis helped create the company's brand identity and managed their marketing and PR. After a little over a year, Alexis moved to an advisory role and accepted an offer from Grand Central Publishing for his first book, Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made not Managed, which debuted as a national bestseller.

In early November 2011, Alexis joined the fight against SOPA and PIPA, becoming one of the public faces for the movement, which ultimately thwarted both bills in a display of citizen power never seen before by lawmakers. He continues to fight for internet freedom working on projects like the Declaration of Internet Freedom, Internet Defense League, and the Internet 2012 Campaign Bus Tour, which toured the heartland of America with Erik Martin to campaign for the open internet and produced a documentary about the adventure, Silicon Prairie. He presently sits on the NYC Mayor's Council on Tech and Innovation.

An active investor with over eighty tech startups now in his portfolio, Alexis is now one of the most prominent investors in tech. He designed the logos and brands for reddit, Breadpig and hipmunk, and proven the model for making something people love online & offline, building brands that are both community-driven (reddit) and not (hipmunk). He uses these experiences to mentor and advise the young startups in his portfolio and recent YC graduates.

Along the way, Alexis has spoken at TED (a talk viewed over a million times), been rendered in CGI on NMA.TV, was named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” in Technology two years in a row (and then turned 30), and included in Inc. Magazine's “30 under 30” for his work at hipmunk. He's a regular contributor on Bloomberg TV, and is especially proud of having received a personal shout out from Stephen Colbert.

Alexis has spoken at universities including MIT, Yale, Carnegie Mellon, UPenn, NYU, Columbia, UCLA, the University of Michigan, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Virginia to name a few; lectured at conferences like TED, the Clinton Global Initiative, SXSW, and ROFLCON; spoken to companies such as Google, BBDO, and Betaworks; hired for talks at Johnson & Johnson, Hyatt, Kraft, and Palantir. He even keynoted an entrepreneurship summit in Cairo organized by the U.S. State Department just months after the Egyptian Revolution.

Alexis has appeared in countless publications in print and online: New York Times, WSJ, CNN, Washington Post, The Economist, WIRED, NY Post, Gawker, TechCrunch, Mashable, Paper Magazine, Nylon guys, Forbes, Fast Company, and Inc. He's also appeared in television programs on networks including CNN, MSNBC, Fox, CNBC, Al-jazeera English, NPR and G4.

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