I think these programs are about trying to prevent terrorist actions that are basically unpreventable, or at least not totally preventable. And so in trying to prevent bad things from happening they've basically thrown the concept of "privacy" -- which legally is a murky concept anyway -- in the trash. And then I think they're also guilty of making the danger look more dangerous than it really is, to justify the existence of the programs. Any government initiative or program has a kind of evolutionary desire to continue existing... to present the conditions that make the program necessary as a reality.
Part of the problem is that the fear card is an effective one. I think the majority of people will give up privacy to get a little temporary safety if you prevent that as the choice, and given that this is a republic that's the system we have. For me though I don't think that's the actual choice we have. But as long as there's big money to be made in defense contracts the lobbyists will continue to be well paid, and given how easy it is to scare the public it's basically like stealing, in that it's exactly like stealing.
The communist metaphor that Locke I think brought up is exactly the right one. National defense organizes itself best around a definable enemy, and as long as the enemy is scary it hardly matters who or what it is. All you need is to be able to say "there's the bad guy, killing him is the reason we need 11 aircraft carrier groups when no other country has more than one". The substance of the enemy is as irrelevant as the substance of one of Alfred Hitchcock's famous MacGuffins.
Remember, remember, the 5th of November The Gunpowder Treason and plot; I see of no reason why Gunpowder Treason Should ever be forgot.
"Politics is the Art of Looking for Trouble, Finding it Everywhere, Diagnosing it Incorrectly, and Applying the Wrong Remedies"