People say there’s a trade-off between privacy and security. That implies that if we allow greater access to information about ourselves, the government will do a better job at keeping us safe. I believe this assertion is demonstrably false. The visit of China’s President Hu Jintao provides evidence for my claim.

The Chinese government is the target of vigorous protests by supporters of Falun Gong. The protests are suppressed in China, but not here. However, China asked that the U.S. do what it could to keep protestors away from Hu while he was visiting President Bush in Washington. Nonetheless, a reporter with Falun Gong’s newspaper was given a press pass to the welcoming ceremony for Hu. She started shouting during the event, and was eventually taken away. Reporters did a Nexis search which showed that, in 2001, the woman had applied for press credentials, been denied, but nonetheless slipped through a security cordon in Malta protecting former President Jiang and got into an argument with him.

The U.S. Government had all the information it needed to exclude the protestor. It had her name. It knew she was with the Falun Gong newspaper. And public newspaper articles showed that she had made a ruckus protesting Chinese officials within the past five years.

The problem isn’t lack of information. Its what the government does with the information it has.