High school students debate surveillance in post-Snowden America

Jenna McLaughlin:

Lena is 17, a senior at Niles West High School outside Chicago. She’s a former video game junkie with the build of a great blue heron, and part of a top-ranked, two-girl “policy debate” team. Lena’s partner is Faith Geraghty, 18, a blonde pit bull in Doc Martens and a former ice hockey champion who traded in her skates for an ever-present MacBook — now crammed full of information about things like the upcoming congressional debate on NSA spying programs authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Jonah Jacobs, a dark-haired junior at Glenbrook North High School, also near Chicago, gave up football for debate after a bad concussion. He tells me he spent the entire summer researching the ways intelligence sharing with other countries benefits the U.S. economy. Jonah’s partner, Anthony Trufanov, was half of the national championship team last year. Many high school policy debaters literally gasp for air as they rush to make their arguments, but Anthony breathes between words, using an inhalation technique he learned from mastering Systema, a form of Russian martial arts. He says he’s enjoying debating about surveillance because he likes finding “nuanced solutions to complex problems.”

Eben Moglen: Snowden and the future.

Radley Balko.