Zero-Sum Games: an oversimplification at best

[I wrote this little bit a while ago and forgot about it in my "drafts" folder. I'm posting it now without any additions to pretend I'm doing something with this blog space. -Dylan]

At worst, a political shell game.

Lately I've been hearing about this catch phrase "privacy and security are a zero-sum game." Supposedly it's been on the lips of every U.S. intelligence analyst and operative since SIGINT got it's own agency. (I exaggerate but you get the idea.) It makes no sense. If they really did have a zero-sum relationship, our intelligence community would be the most transparent part of our government because by giving up their privacy they would magically become more secure. So what do these proponents of security mean when they say that? I think they mean: you would be more secure if you give your private information to us, you trust us right? But were people in East Germany more secure because of all the surveillance that the Stasi did? Or was it the state that was more secure because of the fear promoted by their ability to surveil? Are they, at the same time they say this, calling for more real oversight of the intelligence community? No, they aren't. They, along with the rest of the Executive branch believe they are above the law. (While that definitely applies to Bush II's Whitehouse, I believe it applies to all presidents.)