I like to check in on Bruce Schneier’s website now and then. He is a security guy who seems to have a balanced view of these things.  In particular, his post on wire tapping the internet is insightful.

It’s bad civic hygiene to build technologies that could someday be used to facilitate a police state. No matter what the eavesdroppers say, these systems cost too much and put us all at greater risk.  Bruce Schneier, 10/1/10.

The problem with having massive infrastructure for threat assessment is that they’ll always find something, or at least imagine something. It is in the nature of the state security apparatus to rank its survival highest and to take measures to delegate resources to that end first.  

Just how much sympathy should citizens have in regard to the reach and efficiency of state security organs?  Civil liberties are more important than clerical efficiency.  Americans have been watching too many cop shows on television. It feeds a paranoia seated deep in the brainstem and leads to expectations that discount civil liberty.