Greenwald vs NSA’s Hayden: Glenn Wins in a Slam Dunk

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Greenwald vs NSA's Hayden: Glenn Wins in a Slam Dunk

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who brought the Edward Snowden documents to the world, debated former CIA and NSA head Michael Hayden last night in Toronto.  The debate was hosted by Munk Debates and also featured Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and rightwing lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

Before the debate, the audience voted 33% in favor of the statement, "Be it resolved state surveillance is a legitimate defense of our freedoms," while 46% voted against. After the debate, 59 percent of the audience agreed with Greenwald and Ohanian.

Edward Snowden also made an appearance via video link at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall during the semi-annual Munk debate.

"It's no longer based on the traditional practice of targeted taps based on some individual suspicion of wrongdoing. It covers phone calls, emails, texts, search history, what you buy, who your friends are, where you go, who you love."

Here is the Snowden video:

The Associated Press reports:

Greenwald opened the debate by condemning the NSA's own slogan, which he said appears repeatedly throughout its own documents: Collect it all.

"What is state surveillance? If it were about targeting in a discriminate way against those causing harm, there would be no debate," said Greenwald. "The actual system of state surveillance has almost nothing to do with that. What state surveillance actually is, is defended by the NSA's actual words, that phrase they use over and over again, 'collect it all.'"

Hayden and Dershowitz spent the rest of the hour and a half or so denying that the pervasive surveillance described by Snowden and Greenwald even exists and that the ongoing surveillance programs are necessary to prevent terrorism.

"Collect it all doesn't mean collect it all!" said Hayden, drawing laughs from the audience.

Greenwald is now a columnist for First Look Media.

The video of the debate is embedded below, but you have to skip ahead to 29 minutes.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.


Related Video:

Munk Debate on State Surveillance: Greenwald/Ohanian vs Hayden/Dershowitz

4 Responses

  1. In the interest of fairness, I must take issue with the way you have characterized the “results” of the debate, and also your characterization of Alan Dershowitz as a “rightwing lawyer” The last first – Dershowitz has been one of the most ardent supporters of civil rights and civil liberties issues of this generation, and any examination of his contributions to these fields will show that he has been anything but rightwing. It is true that on the current issue he holds a seemingly contradictory view. And on the question of Israel he is, in my judgement, firmly in wacko-land.

    On the second question, the results of the debate were not nearly so lopsided as the figures you site. The pre-debate survey included an “undecided” option, which was quite a considerable number – 21%. This choice was not available in the post debate vote – only yes or no votes were allowed, and the anti side gained 12 points, while the pro side gained 9, hardly a “slam dunk” of the undecided vote, which are the only ones that really mattered.

    I have been a follower of Glenn since he began his blog, Uncharted Territory, in 2005, and have almost uniformly agreed with his positions, and admired his tenacity and principled stand on controversial issues. We do not need to shade the numbers, or mischaracterize the opposition to win the final tally. This only grants extra ammunition to the opposition.


    • Just concerning Dershowitz, I don’t agree that he “has been one of the most ardent supporters of civil rights and civil liberties issues of this generation.”

      For example his advocacy of torture (if a warrant is obtained) in the San Francisco Chronicle, his advocacy of surveillance (without a warrant based on probable cause) in this debate, his campaign to get Norman Finkelstein fired from DePaul University, etc. Such views show little respect for civil liberties, for international conventions and the US Constution. These are extreme right wing views.

      Early in hs career he was an advocate of civil liberties, but less and less so recently. In this Munk Debate he said he was for some constraints on surveillance, but I had the strong impression that he meant only constraints decided by the national security establishment (NSA, CIA, FBI, etc.) itself, laughable.

      • I concede your points, but interestingly, all of them can be convincingly traced back to issues involving Dershowitz’s fanatical support for Israel. In my own circle of friends, I have seen Jewish solidarity with Israel contort their otherwise liberal sensibilities, and Dershowtz is a case study in this phenomenon. As I wrote… wacko-land

  2. After listening/watching the entire debate it’s clear that neither Mr. Dershowitz or Mr. Hayden could find any fault with Alexis Ohanian’s argument. Finally it comes down to whether or not one feels they can trust government and it’s contractors in the way Dershowitz and Hayden would like us to.

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