Our four contestants for the most recent of Canada’s public Munk debates.

Munk Debates

TORONTO—Friday night, luminaries from both sides of the “broad state surveillance” argument took the stage together for a public debate, the latest in Canada’s Munk Debate series, on the subject. In the end, surveillance critics won the spread between pre- and post-debate audience polls to triumph, but in between were two hours of impassioned invective from some of the world’s preeminent experts and advocates on a public issue still far from settled.
The resolution, in typical Munk style, was direct though not without ambiguity: “Be it resolved, state surveillance is a legitimate defense of our freedoms.” As you’ll read below, the interpretation of the resolution was the source of a great deal of controversy.
Friday’s debate featured two teams of two debaters. Arguing for the resolution were Michael Hayden, former head of the NSA and CIA, and US director of National Intelligence, along with Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law professor and criminal defense attorney. Arguing against the resolution were Glenn Greenwald, the journalist and civil libertarian whose coverage in The Guardian opened the Snowden saga, and Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of reddit and Internet freedom advocate. Adding to the fun, Edward Snowden himself appeared by video for a brief statement.
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