Glenn Greenwald and Michael Hayden debate surveillance


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I really wanted to watch this. But I swear I couldn’t watch more than 60 seconds of Michael Hayden before I had to turn it off. His unctuous patronising tone had me enraged before a minute was up. Behind every sentence there’s a whiff of lazy condescension; a sense of him being so savvy, and everyone else so naive, that he knows his real-man wisdom is wasted on us, but maybe–just maybe–when we grow up we’ll appreciate what a difficult topic this is and come to realise he was right all along. Guess what, Michael Hayden, your detractors are grown up, many of them are much smarter than you, and even to the casually observing layman it’s plain you’re a slippery eel who may not even have understood his opponents’ points, even though they’ve been aired ad nauseam by Greenwald and others.


Is THE Alan Dershowitz seriously fucking arguing that the State SHOULD be given deference in implementing “Technological Tools?”

Wasn’t his whole claim-to-fame being a criminal defense lawyer fighting against state use of technology (DNA)?

He said once, “The prosecution uses science as a sword and we use it as a shield.”


I didn’t think it was as much of a slam-dunk as Cory made it out to be. I tend to side on the side of privacy, but Hayden made some good points. Dershowitz was a great trial lawyer, but he undermined their position by constantly saying that “it’s a work in progress”. Greenwald was the only one who treated it like a classic debate (as a medal-holder for my high school debate team, I know a bit about this) instead of a Sunday talk show. He made points, some emotional of course, but had reams of quotes and facts to back up every single point he made (which were never rebutted). That’s a classic debater. It was entertaining watching Hayden getting increasingly riled at Greenwald. Very substantive debate - few talking points - both sides gave a spirited defense of their propositions.

Oh, and Ohanian had some extremely relevant points regarding the NSA undermining the entire structure of security on the Internet, but NOBODY engaged those points. That made me angry, but I think everyone was focused on Greenwald vs Hayden.


I just loved it when Hayden gave the great example of how a terrorist plot could have been stopped by NSA activity and NSA wouldn’t even know it-- essentially, the spying is worth it because I have this hypothetical example where by its very nature it will never be known. Somebody should have sandbagged him on that one.

Dershowitz, Dershowitz, how many ways are there to despise thee? Bringing up the War Measures Act and the FLQ crisis? To support your position (because it was a “Liberal” government)? On stage in Canada? Patronizing, ignorant, offensive, and profoundly stupid, all in one.


Audio guy had lightning fast reaction times and perfect levels.



The best part is at the end when Michael Hayden says “trust me” and pauses too long and everyone laughs derisively.


That’s ok. I’m sure the NSA has a high-fidelity copy sitting around somewhere.


Please stand back - an expert has arrived.


It’s shocking how many people are undecided and open to sway on this controversial issue which has been ongoing now for years and the apparent ignorance about our freedoms and rights about which we should have all learned the basics of years ago in school.

I think Greenwald prevailed with facts and reason, but I also understand that not every listener makes decisions using facts and reason, which is why appeals to emotion have always been an effective method to influence.


The reddit guy had absolutely nothing interesting to say. Glen had to carry the entire negative side of that debate.

Your snark adds nothing.

I was annoyed that he wouldn’t elaborate beyond his insecure lock analogy to provide any sort of concrete examples to make it clear what he was referring to, but as @brian_alto said, nobody acknowledged his point.

Which actually represents an end-run around the whole debate: whether or not mass surveillance can be justified in terms of rights versus security, that question is largely moot since so much of it depends on broken internet security at a fundamental level - which can’t even begin to be justified. A big slice of the NSA playbook is all about harming internet security for everyone.

There’s no ‘yes, but -’ for that shit. It’s not only unconscionable, it’s fucking retarded.

But also, it’s pretty damn tough to look good standing next to Greenwald, so there’s that.

<3 Greenwald


Your loss (in not being able to stomach the debate thanks to Hayden) was more than balanced by our gain of one of the finest shit-cannings I’ve seen in a while.

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You know what, hours later I went back and fast-forwarded to all of Greenwald’s bits, and got all the good stuff experiencing none of the queasiness. In general I believe in hearing both sides etc., not living in a bubble, but in this case the rebuttals are so strong there’s no added benefit to experiencing Hayden first-hand.

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I agree that Greenwald was the most coherent and successful speaker in the entire debate, but I also admit to being quite biased towards his position. BUT, Ohanian was the most aggravating speaker on stage. Not because I disagreed with him. On the contrary, I think his point about surveillance undermining security is possibly one of the most important one discussed. No, he was aggravating because he kept repeating the same point over and over again without ever describing WHY surveillance is making us less secure. Of COURSE no one on the other side addressed the issue - there was nothing to latch onto. His whole argument could be boiled down to “mass surveillance makes me feel bad”. How do you counter that? By ignoring it. I just wished he listed a few of the 0-day exploits the NSA sat on.

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“Accusations fit on a bumper sticker” fits on a bumper sticker.

IDK, I actually do think it was a slam dunk, mainly because Hayden only brings anecdotal data.

I mean, because of the same secrecy the intelligence apparatus claims as essential, there is no way to objectively know if what he said is objectively true or merely what he understands to be true.

(I wont’ get into why I don’t trust what he said and how his words can easily be interpreted more than one way, instead I’ll just say that when a debater utters the words “trust me” to prove a point, he basically just threw in the towel.)

Sure, some people might still be persuaded by him, but at least they heard both sides make their case.

Hayden only makes the case that he’s to be trusted. He didn’t even try to make the case that its useful, only that he believes it could be useful, while Dershowitz makes the case that whats in place right now is inadequate, but, that it will get better.

Two very tortured points. And let me be clear, I did not hear them argue the facts as they stand, they argued for a platonic version of surveillance, (Which would include targeting the wrong people, just with good reason)

Greenwald makes the case that it hasn’t been useful and that it should be targeted, with facts within everyone’s reach.
Ohanian argued that it was counter to security. (I think he was a bit timid in driving the point home though, but still, a crucial point)

Seems like a slam dunk to me.

I take your point, tachinl. Might partly go to what you think a debate should be. As I said in my original comment, Greenwald was treating it like a classic debate (CITES CITES CITES!!), while Hayden and Dershowitz were just trying to be persuasive, as if they were on a network talking heads show. Greenwald absolutely won on points, but Hayden was charming and persuasive, though his cites consisted of “c’mon, just trust me! I’m a harmless old man with a sense of humor!”. Dershowitz was off the rails.

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