The January Public Forum topic is here, and Cheyenne East Speech and Debate Team Senior superstar performer and debater YuYu Yuan is on the Rock On! Debate podcast to discuss a PF topic full of action, intrigue, adventure, and espionage!
Resolved: The National Security Agency should end its surveillance of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.
YuYu is having quite a Speech and Debate career at Cheyenne East. Just a couple of impressive highlights of her accomplishments so far include: she has finished in the 30 in PF and the top 20 in Oratory at the National Speech and Debate Tournament, she was the Original Oratory champion at the prestigious James Logan Martin Luther King Jr. Invitational tournament in Oakland, CA, she is a Wyoming State Champion in Public Forum and Original Oratory, and is currently ranked in the top 20 of NSDA points nationally. YuYu is truly an amazing performer and debater, but she is an even more amazing person.
YuYu has not only spent Holiday break running camps and recording tips for our Long Winter’s Clap episodes (keep an eye out for YuYu on the One Clap feed again soon), she has also done some great work to put together a topic analysis to help PF debaters prep for awesome January debates. YuYu’s analysis includes some topic background and overview, affirmative arguments, negative arguments, closing thoughts, and some really impressively bad jokes.
Thank you so much to YuYu for sharing that super helpful topic analysis! It is sure to be useful to coaches and debaters prepping for PF this new year!
Debaters, don't stop rockin'!
YuYu Yuan's January 2021 Public Forum Topic Analysis Transcript:
Hello everybody! It’s YuYu and today I will be doing a general topic analysis of the January 2021 pf resolution. The resolution is Resolved: the national security agency should end its surveillance of US citizens and lawful permanent residents. In this podcast, we will start with a resolution analysis and some background before getting into the pro and con arguments and finally some concluding thoughts.
Let’s start with a resolution analysis. The first thing to take note of is that there are three parts or three groups in this resolution. There isthe National Security Agency also known as the NSA, US citizens, and lawful permanent residents. There is also the action of “ending” something which we will address later in this section. I want to first start with the easier groups to understand in terms of who they are and those are US citizens and lawful permanent residents. US citizens are pretty self-explanatory, they are citizens born in the United States and or citizens who have immigrated here and have passed the naturalization test and have gone through the steps to become a US citizen. Lawful permanent residents are essentially the same, but instead they are here on a permanent visa and green card. There’s only a slight distinction between US citizens and lawful permanents. However, the last group involved, which is the NSA, is a little more
complicated in terms of who they are and what they do. Fun fact! They were once known as no such agency. And in some cases it’s pretty much true. However we do know they are a part of the department of defense.
The national security agency was officially created in 1952 by former president Harry Truman. According to the Jurist.org in their article “a short history of the NSA,” Truman created the NSA in order to combat the inefficiencies of the Armed Forces Security Agency or AFSA. The AFSA was supposed to organize electronic information that the
departments of the US, like department of agriculture, commerce, etc, had. “Supposed to” being the key words. So instead, the NSA was created in order to quote “provide an effective, unified organization and control of the communications intelligence activities of the United States conducted against foreign governments.” A lot of words that
basically means the NSA’s job is to monitor intelligence of foreign governments. Yet, because of the cold war, nuclear weapons testing and a whole bunch of other issues internationally and domestically, Americans eventually found out that they monitored American citizens too in 1975. Because there were some evidence of this being
successful, there was the creation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or FISA in 1978. This allowed courts to issue warrants for wiretaps when they were requested. Then, 9/11 happened which changed the course of surveillance where former president Bush ordered warrantless wiretaps of us citizens in contact with foreign sources.
Phew… that was a lot of information to digest and it’s true you don’t have to know every single detail about the NSA. Let’s talk more about how it applies to arguments. With a brief understanding of the history, we must discuss exactly what they. The FISA legislation allows them to wiretap with warrants but it doesn’t really matter since they can already do warrantless searches anyway. They track your phone calls, emails, internet searches and more that has to do with your data, you might consider being more careful and downloading a vpn, not sponsored by the way. There is also Section 215 of the patriot act that allows them to gain information from third parties, those third parties are telephone companies that keep track of your phone calls and messages. Of course, this only allows the NSA to demand records that have any connection to international terrorism, counterespionage, and or foreign intelligence investigations. Meaning yes while the NSA can violate your privacy, they have potential to provide more national security.
Just like with any resolution there will always be a trade off between the pro and the con. Pro in this is advocating for keeping privacy and con is advocating for national security. Each of these can go hand in hand with the other, meaning on the pro, they could argue that privacy is more important than national security and on con vice versa. Con also has the option of saying national security is a pre-requisite to maintaining privacy. And after all of the analysis that we did for the resolution, we can conclude simply with pro is saying we should end all of the NSA’s ability to surveil people in the united states and that con is saying we shouldn’t end it at least not all of it. Bear with me because now we’re diving into the pro arguments you can make and some tips and tricks for success.
But before a very bad joke. Why couldn’t the NSA whistle blower leave Russia? Because he was snowed in! Aha, okay bad joke, but great segue into the pro arguments. As we all know, Edward Snowden was the man to expose all of the invasions of privacy the NSA was involved with. There were reports that they were grossly monitoring everything you were seeing on the internet. Talk about FBI memes but in reality, btw FBI people if you’re
listening, I am just a simple debater doing whatever she needs to. But also there were reports that NSA employees were spying on their lovers, didn’t really know they had trust issues but hey it is what it is. Anyway, all of these pieces of evidence can be found on the Guardians website of the atrocities the employees commit. But are all arguments
you can use to support the fact that they invade into our privacy. A key tip I would give you here is that if you’re running privacy you need an impact and a way to terminalize the impact. Because even if they violate our privacy is it enough to say that we should end all of the NSA’s ability to surveil us? Since other companies and organizations like
the FBI and telecom technically already gathers our data. So why does it matter? Some ideas for impacts to privacy could be that it’s the beginning of an era where abuses in the government will ultimately lead to authoritarianism or oppression. As we’ve seen with police departments, they can use our data against us and stop protests from happening and use it as a weapon against communities of color. There are even reports that knowledge of mass surveillance could stop certain groups from doing anything at all or be paranoid and stop going to hospitals, using the internet and other things that would allow the NSA to track your data. All in all, some type of tangible impact is necessary as PF is not a value heavy debate like LD is.
Another pro argument you can use is combating terrorism. There is question to how efficient the NSA is at their job anyway. They may have a giant haystack, and some will argue that you need to haystack to find the needle, but pro can argue that having such a large haystack makes finding the needle impossible. This will lead you to the information overload argument that was made in the 2015-2016 policy resolution.
Side note, if you use the wiki, which can be found by simply typing in the google search bar 2015-2016 policy wiki, it will lead you to a variety of arguments that have already been made about domestic surveillance.
Back to the overload argument. Again, if you have so much information collected and not enough people to rifle through everything, then it makes it near impossible to find the right information before its too late. You could argue that other organizations like the FBI, CIA and local and state law enforcement are better equipped to deal with a small amount of data at a time and you could even make the argument that they will be more efficient at finding terrorists than the NSA is able to. Afterall, they did let 9/11 slip
away from their fingers, but keep in mind that this is only one example I’m bringing up, if you can find more instances of this happening it would be a great tool to keep in your back pocket when debating. With two pro arguments in mind, it leads me to the last tip I have for you when it comes to pro research. Make sure you are finding evidence
specific to NSA domestic surveillance, otherwise it might not apply. And don’t forget, you can’t argue for reforms since that is already the status quo which would only give the con more of an edge in the round.
Lets move on some con arguments. But first, a bad joke: What game do NSA employees like to play everyday? I spy…. Hahahaha I know, I’ll be here all week. Moving on, while yes, the NSA technically spies on you and what you’re doing they’re really more just keeping receipts rather than actually monitoring everybody’s movements on the internet 24/7. There’s simply not enough people to do that. So instead, they have a
vast collection of data and will go more into the specifics of that data when the FBI or other police forces calls for it. It can be argued that the NSA also tries it’s best to uphold privacy and national security. You can also make the argument that the NSA is the best organization to collect and maintain all of the data because they are the least corrupt. There may not be a lot of evidence on this but there is evidence saying that other organizations are corrupt and you can make analysis saying that because of this, the NSA is the best option. With this argument you will also have to prove that metadata is a necessity because if you don’t then pro can just say we don’t need it and move on.
The second con argument is simply it stops or has the chance of stopping terrorism, domestic or international or both. When it comes to international terrorism the NSA needs the ability to monitor phone calls to foreign persons in order to gain information about a potential terrorist attack. Metadata helps with this as the CIA and the FBI relies
on the data they gather to find those specific people and instances. This is why you’ll find evidence that the NSA has foiled over 30 terrorist plots. For domestic terrorism, or specifically right wing terrorism, this is where you can say the NSA needs to conduct domestic surveillance so they can foil domestic terrorist plots. Right wing terrorists rely on social media to communicate with each other which means it gives the NSA has the best chance of finding out information and stopping it from happening. For specific examples, the nation reports that US intelligence is now turning on the Boogaloo movement, where their intentions are to start a second civil war. This will lead to a great impact that can outweigh the majority of the pro arguments. More generically you can also make the argument that NSA data can be used to stop crime like sex trafficking rings and more as they are looking into facial recognition technology which helps them identify where and when this is taking place.
And my last tip for you on the con is to definitely make sure you have answers to privacy and don’t be scared to make some sneaky arguments that the pro is not prepared for.
And with that, it brings me to the end of this podcast where I will share with you some concluding thoughts. I think weighing, as with any resolution, will be especially important and in this case it might be that privacy matters over national security, or vice versa. But of course, you will have to give reasons as to why it’s true, judges simply cannot take your word for it, especially if they are already biased towards the resolution. Don’t forget to use the three big boys of magnitude, timeframe and probability when you weigh. I think for this resolution, magnitude will be a big one since either side is pretty probable and this has been going on for a long time. So instead you can make statements that your impacts are bigger and more important than your opponents.
But with timeframe, especially on the con, you could simply say that because right wing terrorism is on the rise, it is crucial that we keep the NSA now. Or for probability, you can say that if the NSA has violated our rights in the past then its not so far of a stretch that domestic surveillance can lead to a nasty outcome. Overall, I think this resolution
is a little weird especially with the wording but with a little bit more elbow grease and an opportunity for the NSA to be suspicious of you, you can make great arguments to elevate your debate skills. Thank you for listening and I hope this has helped.