NSD 2013 Topic Analysis

This year, the National Symposium for Debate jettisoned the traditional, lecture-based, resolutional analysis lecture and replaced it with an online discussion. In this video, five NSD staffers-Alex Smith, Jeff Liu, Larry Liu, Elana Leone, and Ari Parker-discuss their thoughts on the 2013 institute topic: Resolved: The United States ought to prioritize the pursuit of national security objectives above the digital privacy of its citizens.

The panelists discuss the legal, policy, philosophical, and theoretical issues on the topic. They then structure potential cases and arguments for both sides.

Students, you should not view this discussion as a lecture, but rather as a springboard for some of your own ideas for cases for camp. Although it is not required for you to have cases by the start of camp, it is recommended that you at least begin researching the topic before you arrive.

  • Parth Kalaria

    Hey guys, I am not sure if this is old news, but the 2013-2014 bid list is out. I just wanted to let everyone know. There are some pretty big changes concerning Berkeley and Strake Jesuit as a new Texas bid tournament (congrats!), so check it out.

    • Expository Exposer

      Why are you commenting so much?

      • Parth Kalaria

        Because I care about the welfare of the debate community. Why else? Why do you ask? Also, why do you hide your name? I ask these question just out of curiosity. I really don’t want to get into a flame war with you. I am honestly just a debater attending nsd soon who wants to make debate a good experience for everyone who takes part, not a hate filled environment.

        • TheBerkeleyBear

          UTIL.DB8R downvotes but Bentham upvotes. Where’s your god now larper?

          • UTIL.DB8R

            The only god I know is Bostrom.

    • JP Stuckert

      Thanks Parth. We’re very excited about hosting a tournament this upcoming year. I want to remind everyone that this tournament is not merely a Strake thing but is in conjunction with TDC. They (especially Kris Wright) have put a ton of effort into the tournament and will continue to work hard, so it’s important to make sure they are remembered. Most of the tournaments profits will go to TDC which helps low income debaters to have access to circuit resources. I’d be thrilled to see as many people there as possible.

  • TheBerkeleyBear

    cough cough toc videos cough cough learning is good cough cough

    • sjadler

      Hey there,

      I’m sorry to hear that TOC videos still aren’t up. Unfortunately, there really isn’t anything that I (or anyone else at NSD Update) can do about it–as far as I know, there are no NSD-recorded videos from TOC yet to be released. If you would like more videos to be posted, you should get in touch with Andrea Reed or Scott Odekirk; I believe they’re the only people who would know what the situation on the videos is because they were the ones filming them.

      I made a few different attempts this season to keep the videos coming despite my being at fewer tournaments to film them, but unfortunately the attempts all fell through. If people have ideas for how to keep them coming, how to make the process easier, or how to assume more responsibility for the video hub, I’m happy to talk about those things and see what I can do. I know how important the videos are, and I really like that they exist as a service for the community–there were just a whole bunch of logistical challenges with running them this season. I hope to see the TOC videos released soon though!


      • TheBerkeleyBear

        Adler, you’re awesome. I wasn’t really directing my comment at nsdupdate, just the community, but I appreciate you taking this upon yourself. Thanks, and I’ll contact you elsewhere because I think I might be able to help the effort out next year.

  • Daniel Moerner

    I didn’t watch the analysis, so I don’t know if it was mentioned, but people need to remember that there’s another way to get aff offense off the constitution, from the implied privacy rights established in Griswold v. Connecticut (and famously Roe v. Wade) which do not depend on the 4th Amendment.

    • Eric Bump Weine

      Doesn’t this just mean that people who run constitutionality on the aff have two burdens since they have to disprove a reasonable right to privacy and the application of the privacy right from Roe v. Wade? I’m not sure this is aff offense then.

      • Daniel Moerner

        Yes of course I forgot what the actual topic’s sides were.

        • Eric Bump Weine

          Ah ok. Normally that would have been easy to figure out but there was some talk of defense-only Constitution ACs. Thanks for the tip though!

    • alex smith

      Except that they do. See, e.g., Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 484-85 (1965) (describing the right to privacy as “emanat[ing]” from, inter alia, the protections of the Fourth Amendment).

  • CTYcrossoverJA

    Yoooo can we have the weird disease article?

  • Parth Kalaria

    Hey guys, here’s an outline I took while watching the discussion. Hopefully it facilitates everyone’s pre-camp research.

    NSD Topic Analysis

    General Things to Research: 4th Amendment, PRISM/Snowden, FISA Courts: enhances power of law enforcement to engage in wire tapping through approving warrants, Reasonable expectation to privacy (especially with regard to
    Supreme Court cases), Current national security objectives (especially
    anti-terrorism, post 911), Patriot Act

    Supreme Court Cases: Amnesty International v. Clapper, NASA v. Nelson, Katz v United States
    *Remember that Supreme Court cases do not exactly mirror the
    structure of the debate resolution, as they are not directly comparative
    between national security and privacy.
    *SC did not make a conclusive decision on informational
    privacy being a right

    Conception of Privacy
    Generic concept of individuals free from interference
    *You may need to explain why you have reasonable expectation
    of privacy online
    Are digital privacy and digital rights separate terms of
    Broad cases that do not address digital privacy specifically
    may be extra topical

    Structure of 4th Amendment
    Protects against unreasonable searches and seizures
    If a search violates a reasonable expectation of privacy, it
    is not allowed

    Potential Aff Cases/Strategies
    With the open nature of the Internet, there is no reasonable
    expectation of privacy

    1. General constitutionality framework saying we
    evaluate topic from a legal view
    2. Katz v. US: which establishes definition for 4th
    amendment rights
    3. Contention Level: arguments for why no reasonable
    expectation for privacy exists

    *This type of case is strategic for the aff, for it puts a
    positive burden on the neg, helping you win on defense as the aff.

    Saying national security is in US self-interest
    This hijack’s negative ground for it says the neg cannot get
    ends based ground since doing what aff says in the US’s best interest

    Anti-terrorism arguments

    Preventing pandemics
    We invade digital privacy to uncover information that may
    help stop spread of disease

    Supporting status quo

    Even if we are monitored, it does not matter since we are still protected by US

    Potential Neg Cases/Strategies
    Invent affirmative strategy by saving there is a reasonable expectation to privacy
    1. 4th amendment is not a balancing test, but rather just establishing a reasonable expectation is all you need to do
    2. We should err to overprotecting privacy than under-protecting it

    No positive obligation for Constitution
    A2: 4th amendment says “shall not be violating,”
    framing it as a mandate. So, the general Constitution does not matter, but
    specifically within the 4th amendment, entitlement is established
    A2: Ought = logical consequence. So, if we don’t care about
    privacy at all, we by default prioritize national security above it

    DA’s regarding
    Snowden and his asylum
    Harms US credibility

    Harms of people departing from Internet in fear of being digitally monitored (maybe DA)

    Ability to stop spying on citizens
    UK was caught spying on citizens
    Stance of US could be mirrored by other countries and affect
    US credibility
    Foucauldian arguments about rights/surveillance state
    A2: The real threat of privacy is about how we think about
    it, with discourses. Focusing on state masks this.

    Amendments on FISA are what cause privacy infringements
    So, CP would say to repeal those amendments/change standard by which FISA courts are run
    Historically purpose of FISA courts has been undermined, so we should disregard them

    Topicality Arguments
    T debate on prioritize or pursuit
    Does pursuit imply a program, or just a goal?

    Aims vs implementation

    Other questions to consider
    Does aff have to defend the status quo?

    Under what conditions do we prioritize national security
    over digital privacy.

  • Eric Bump Weine

    What do you guys think about neg util positions that impact to national security/extinction. It seems like philosophically these positions affirm since the only reason digital privacy is valued is that it promotes national security, meaning that national security is the goal of action and thus prioritized. Is this and implementation vs. aims question like Elana talked about, or are there other ways to settle this debate?

  • Guest

    What do you guys think about neg util positions with impacts to national security/extinction? It seems like philosophically these positions seem to affirm, since the only reason individual privacy is important is that it serves national security, meaning that national security is prioritized. Is this an aims vs. implementation question like Elana talked about, or are there other ways to settle this debate that you guys would suggest?

    • CTYcrossoverJA

      I think that aff doesn’t necessarily imply utilitarianism, since you can always make the argument that benefits can be garnered through happiness of individuals being left alone, as well as just simply the argument that the active assignment of privacy prevents some type of harm such as nuclear war.

      • Eric Bump Weine

        I agree that the aff doesn’t imply utilitarianism. My only concern is with the latter half of your argument. It seems that even if we activity assign privacy so we prevent national security disasters, then our main concern is national security and not privacy.

        • CTYcrossoverJA

          It’s not so we can prevent national security disasters, right, it’s so that we can defend those individuals. The motive has something to do with what they want to do.


    This is like 6 months late.

  • Guest

    I know this answer only speaks to part of your question, but I think that the best argument would be that we have no reason to care about privacy from the constitution and then say that clauses in the preamble like providing for the common defense or promoting general welfare give us some reason to care about national security. Thus, we would have more of a reason to care about national security than privacy.

  • DanAlessandro

    Regarding the constitutionality discussion that starts at about 16:55, it seems to me that an AC that just says “The Constitution doesn’t protect digital privacy, therefore, the US ought to prioritize the pursuit of NSOs above digital privacy” doesn’t make sense. If the resolution was Resolved: X ought to be prioritized above Y, an aff that said, “we have no obligation to prioritize Y, therefore X ought to be prioritized above Y” wouldn’t be sufficient to affirm absent some offensive reason that there is an obligation to do X or a reason X is good. Likewise, in the case of a Constitutionality AC, there would need to be some offense for why the Constitution mandates making national security objectives a priority. Jeff alludes to this when he says there could be offense generated from another part of the Constitution that obligates the US to protect its citizens. However, Larry says “it follows that we prioritize national security objectives over digital privacy if we don’t care at all about digital privacy… if we don’t care about digital privacy concerns at all, then we necessarily care about national security objectives more than digital privacy”. Why would it follow that we care more about X than Y if we don’t know whether we care about X or whether prioritizing X is proactively bad?

    • Eric Bump Weine

      I know this answer only speaks to part of your question, but I think that the best argument would be that we have no reason to care about privacy from the constitution and then say that clauses in the preamble like providing for the common defense or promoting general welfare give us some reason to care about national security. Thus, we would have more of a reason to care about national security than privacy.

      • DanAlessandro

        I agree that those arguments make sense. Some of the panelists suggested that an AC just with defense on digital privacy being protected by the Constitution would affirm, which is what I was questioning.

        • Eric Bump Weine

          Well in that case I totally agree with you. I don’t think those arguments make much sense since they don’t establish an obligation like you said.

    • Adam Roke

      I think the more obvious answer is in the framework. It would set up that there is a positive and normative obligation to follow the constitution, and then offense would say that the constitution considers national security to be a higher priority than ensuring digital privacy.

    • larry951liu

      Dan, you are probably correct that the aff does need to win some offense with a constitutionality aff. Saying that “we necessarily care about national security objectives more than digital privacy” because we do not care about digital privacy at all is too strong. However, that sort of aff still does seem to trivially affirm off of defense, because, at least in my limited understanding of the Constitution, there is some presumption that the national defense / general welfare of its citizens matter (whereas the AC would have proven that the Constitution does not consider digital privacy to be important at all).

      Also, here is the Amnesty v. Clapper brief which is referenced many times in the video — it contains most of the information regarding FISA, FISC, and the Bush surveillance and summarizes the decision. http://epic.org/amicus/fisa/clapper/Amnesty-et-al-Brief.pdf

  • CTYcrossoverJA

    NSD spitting knowledge for the masses

    • AnonRocky

      forget NSD, Dan ‘Sandman’ Alessandro is dropping some straight truth