[eDebate] Topic idea: Intelligence Reform

Steven D'Amico stevendamico
Fri Apr 4 15:12:23 CDT 2008


Great idea. You ask what the core ground is, and the short answer is:

I think any discussion of a intelligence reform needs to take into account
an affs ability to outweigh a politics DA. Affs on intelligence are likely
uni-directional and strong links to good politics scenarios. Espeically
early in the year with elections, and late in the year with a new presidents
first term agenda on the line.

Given intelligence reform is a debate of subtlety, I worry about the
likelihood of a Adv versus a Polyx da. I think this is a fine debate to
have, I just want us to be sure the aff impacts are big enough.

Then again, terror impacts are huge, cross apply the wallace evidence.

On Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 12:50 PM, Noah Chestnut <noahchestnut at yahoo.com>

> We have a unique opportunity this year as topic papers are not due until
> next week (see Gordon's earlier post from this month).  Too often we
> complain about topics because we could not get involved in their formation
> since we were busy prepping for CEDA/NDT.  This excuse no longer applies.
> I'm looking for people who want to work with me to write a topic paper
> about intelligence reform.  If you are interested e-mail me back at
> noahchestnut at gmail.
> Below I will outline some of the reasons for why I think this could be a
> great topic for all participants in the community.
> First, the topic should be thought of as dealing with both the producers
> and consumers of intelligence.  The intelligence community (which is a
> term of art that includes a variety of actors ranging from the CIA to the
> State Department) is responsible for producing intel.  Political decision
> makers (Congress and the Executive) are the primary consumers of
> intelligence.  This topic should focus on not only the mistake made in
> creating actionable intel, but also the errors in the political process' use
> of that intel.  Taking a step back, this topic asks not only how did 9/11
> happen, but also how did Iraq happen?
> Second, the literature is both recent and developed.  I would be hesitant
> to introduce this topic in 2002 or 2003, but there has been over six years
> for scholars, professionals, intellectuals, columnists, reporters, and
> congress people to hash out this topic.  One of my problems with this
> previous topic was that the phrase constructive engagement was not all that
> relevant in the literature concerning the Middle East.  Reform has a lot
> of meaning in this literature which guarantees that negatives will have
> counterplans and disads that are grounded in the literature, not artificial
> debate constructs (such as the plethora of add a condition cp's that we saw
> at the NDT).
> Third, it is a great election year topic.  Intelligence reform will
> clearly play a role in the upcoming elections as both candidates will be
> continuously pressed as to how they will manage the global war on terror.
> In addition, this is an important issue for the first 100 days of the new
> president since this is not a topic that can be delayed, such as healthcare
> or immigration.
> Now, I'll answer some anticipated frequently asked questions:
> "Won't this topic just devolve into different ways to solve a terror
> advantage?"
> No.  While confronting terrorism will play a large role in this topic,
> intelligence reform raises questions about US primacy, diplomacy, human
> rights, relations with allies, relations with adversaries, governmental
> structure and the perception of this nation.  This is not close to an
> exhaustive list of the possible debates that you may hear.  I also don't
> think that this topic needs to be worded so that aff's have to defend the
> current war on terror.  Topical aff's could ban rendition or even the CIA
> (a proposal floated around by qualified scholars).  This leads me to the
> second criticism.
> "What will the hippies say?"
> Come on, the negative k ground on this topic is pretty fantastic.  I
> shouldn't have to elaborate.  The aff ground is also good.  There are
> obviously aff's that can revolve around banning a poor intelligence
> practice, but there are also affs that can attempt to politicize an aspect
> of intelligence and hold it democratically accountable.
> "What about novices?"
> This is one of the easier topics to get novices involved in.  The topics
> are salient and you could get debaters started by reading the 9/11
> Commission Report and the Iraq Study Group (two texts that every one of us
> should have read by now).  More of this discussion should occur when
> resolutions are being discussed.
> "How do we create a fair balance of ground?"
> I am still not sure of how I would want this topic to be worded.  Let's
> say the topic is:  Resolved: The United States Federal Government should
> enact substantial intelligence reform.  I am not sure what the core DA is
> to that topic.  The problem for me is that the verb in this resolution is
> enact, which is too vague.  I think a better resolution would use a more
> specific verb.  For now, that verb is reform.  Even with reform, I am not
> sure that the negative has amazing disads to the topic.
> One possible solution would be to specify an agent in the resolution.  Make
> the aff defend Congress so the negative has its internal reform cp and da's
> to increasing congressional oversight.  In the beginning of the year this
> will provide stable ground, while after a month or so, negatives will start
> innovating as they always do.
> I believe that with more research, we can write a resolution that benefits
> both affs and negs.
> More to follow later.  Regardless of what you think about this topic, get
> involved and think of what you want to debate next year.
> Noah
> ------------------------------
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