MUNCIE, Indiana –
(NEWS) Every year, Canada’s Munk debates feature high-level, high-profile debates on burning policy issues. This year, they debated the mass surveillance state, and the participants were Glenn Greenwald and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian on the anti-surveillance side (Con) and former NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz on the pro-surveillance side (Pro).
Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past two years, Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and the National Security Agency (NSA) have been all over the news receiving journalism awards for thousands of documents stolen from the NSA, and written about by dozens of journalists across the globe.
Over the same time, General Michael Hayden has called for all their arrest as conspirators in treason. I was curious to see how the debates would be handle so I watched the entire two hour program. You can skip the first 33 minutes if you prefer.
Some of the arguments from both sides break down semantically, but the essence of the debate is whether the government should violate the freedom and rights of citizens to protect the very same citizens. What Alexis Ohanian told us repeatedly is the NSA is exploiting “security back doors” or “flaws” in the world-wide web versus fixing the problems. By doing so, the NSA is actually making us less safe.
Alan Dershowitz, the consummate lawyer, keep trying to split hairs and argue about the fluidity of our constitutional rights and how our legal process is playing catch-up with technology in the 21st century. What I heard him admitting to several times was the existing NSA programs did, in fact, go overboard by violating our rights, but argued against tossing out all surveillance. He kept advocating for “balancing personal rights” with government intrusion.
The debate really came down to the facts presented by Glenn Greenwald versus the believability of General Michael Hayden.
Watch and tell us your thoughts. Did the debate change your mind like it did the viewers watching it live?