Glenn Greenwald debates former NSA director Michael Hayden on state surveillance

Glenn Greenwald debates former NSA director Michael Hayden on state surveillance

Published time: May 02, 2014 23:56


The ongoing debate over whether Americans should value privacy or security stretched into Toronto, Canada Friday night when four of the most influential voices on the matter sat down to discuss the leaked NSA surveillance programs and their fallout.

Former National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency chief Michael Hayden joined with Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz to argue that the ongoing surveillance programs first revealed in June last year by Edward Snowden are necessary to prevent terrorism.

Arguing that national security is merely an excuse for an “insatiable appetite for data” was Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Glenn Greenwald – one of the few journalists working with Snowden who now works at The Intercept, a magazine on

Organized by Munk Debates, which brings together high-profile pundits on a number of issues, the debate started at 7:00 p.m. EST and streamed live on Users participated in the debate both in the hall and online by tweeting in remotely with the hashtag #MunkDebate.

A poll of the Toronto audience before the beginning of the debate found that 32 percent agreed that “state surveillance is a legitimate defense of our freedoms.” Forty-seven percent disagreed, and 21 percent were undecided.

“The internet is a fundamentally global, democratic platform. It must stay that way.” @alexisohanian #munkdebate
— Micah Lee (@micahflee) May 2, 2014

“There is virtually nothing that is immune from the eyes, ears, and even noses of the new generation of big brothers,” Dershowitz said in his opening statement. “Those who oppose all surveillance are as dangerous as those who uncritically support all surveillance. I believe it’s possible to strike a balance in a manner that protects our freedoms, and that is where our efforts should be directed.”

Greenwald, perhaps the most recognizable face on the stage because of his frequent cable TV appearances, argued that limited, targeted surveillance – which Hayden and Derhowitz promoted – makes perfect sense. The journalist compared the actual surveillance state, in which the NSA collects nearly two billion individual communications every day, to a notion that far exceeded even the predictions of 1950s science-fiction authors.

“What state surveillance actually is is best understood by the NSA’s own documents and own words, which I think as you know I happen to have a lot of,” Greenwald said. “That phrase that they use over and over again to describe the state of surveillance they’ve constructed is called Collect It All.”

.@ggreenwald: “There wud be no controversy if #surveillance was being done in a balanced way–as Hayden & Dersh say it is.” #munkdebate
— Jesselyn Radack (@JesselynRadack) May 2, 2014

Greenwald went on to spar with Hayden and Dershowitz over whether the current method of metadata collection would have prevented the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Hayden argued that intelligence analysts would have noticed the number of calls from San Diego to the Middle East and caught the terrorists who were living inside the US illegally. The problem, he said, was that when the NSA prevented the attack, they would still have to defend the surveillance program because as far as the public would be concerned, nothing went wrong.

But Greenwald stated that a number of experts have come forward to say that such a claim is not only false, but also offensive to the public. Lawrence Wright, the winner of a 2003 Pulitzer Prize for his Al-Qaeda coverage, wrote in the New Yorker earlier this year that one of the primary reasons US authorities failed to stop 9/11 is because they were taking in too much information to accurately sort through.

The sheer data volume that such a method of surveillance has created is now threatening to ruin the very internet that so many people now rely upon.

“The gift and the curse of all that data, aside from the civil liberty violations, is that yeah there may be some signal but there’s a lot of noise,” Ohanian said. “It’s a very hard software problem to solve…through the efforts of this mass surveillance we’ve also undermined so much of the technology that makes the internet work, that keeps us safe. It threatens the technology of how the internet works, and works well.”

Dersh concedes the point: we need less #surveillance than what we have now. Need targeted #surveillance–which is what ‘@ggreenwald’s pt is
— Jesselyn Radack (@JesselynRadack) May 3, 2014

“The internet is a fundamentally global, democratic platform. It must stay that way.” @alexisohanian #munkdebate
— Micah Lee (@micahflee) May 2, 2014

Munk Debate Results: 41% agree, 59% disagree (32 agree, 47 disagree pre-debate). Narrow win for @ggreenwald and @alexisohanian.

— The Munk Debates (@munkdebate) May 3, 2014

One comment

  • theunhivedmind

    Once you understand that the terrorist programmes are run by Israel, United States and Great Britain then all this arguing by Hayden and his stooge becomes totally irrelevant. Just study state-sponsored false-flag terrorism and the likes of Operation Northwood and Operation Gladio. Hows about how Al-Jazerra constantly had access to fake Al-Qaeda videos whilst no one else did and why was this? Al-Jazerra is a front for the Central Intelligence Agence who happen to control Qatar the very base of Al-Jazerra. When Hayden mentions Mohammed Atta he forgets to mention he was paid a large sum by the Pakistani ISI who happen to be controlled by the Central Intelligence Agency and all ISI members have to be vetted by the U.S agency. Yes the same Mohammed Atta who’s almost perfect passport was found in New York City without it being burned all whilst most of the Twin Towers and its steel and concrete were pulverized into dust with hardly anything being able to be found not even telephones or chairs. Then the Western intelligence agencies have the balls to attack Russia for finding a Right Sector card in the Ukraine. Even if Russia did pull the same con as the U.S did on 9/11 it still shows how the nefarious U.S is a hypocrite.

    Al-Qaeda was created by the family of Carl M. Marcy out of Chicago using the Senior Executive Service and the U.S Small Business Administrations 8(a) program. Mossad, MI6 and the CIA control and create all the different terrorist groups in order to bring about control over the people of the world and also manipulate economics through resources and similar. This system is designed to simply bring in a totalitarian police state in a post-democratic society. No Al-Qaeda could attack the United States and keep the U.S forces from defending it. No Al-Qaeda can free-fall demolish the Twin Towers with weapons only the U.S Military and similar have access too. With all what I have said combined with the Project for a New American Century, Patriot Act, National Defense Authorization Act and the Civil Contingencies Act (UK) these will answer everything you question. Glenn Greenwald quickly speaks about the Boston Marathon and we know a U.S intelligence team named Craft made up of U.S Navy Seals who planted and exploded the backpacks and we have the pictures of this very team and the people involved.

    -= The Unhived Mind


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