Perhaps 'populace control' goes a little far, but the real issue is different and has more facets.
On one side, yes, the government wants more control, but what they are doing now is unrealistic. Kinda like trying to find the needle in all the hay stacks.
But the people expect them to 'protect' them, so they have to do something. And look, they can spend all this money. And they give it to contractors, who have that consultant job for the general lined up after his retirement. That contractor also helps the general define all kind of threats that will help get more financing.
The NSA is a bloated mess. Without real oversight ('don't limit our budget or our power or else you will be helping the pedofiles/terrorists/communists') they inmates are running the asylum.
While I agree that the governments are scared of us, I believe the whole 1984 thing is overrated. Back then people thought they needed force and coercion and secret police to control people. The sad fact is, they do not. What real threat would we be to the government? We have guns? Well they have subs and aircraft carriers and tanks and Specter gunships. We might rebel? haha, when was the last time that was ever a threat. Of all the crap that has gone down in the last few decades, when have you seen the last real 'uprising' that could even come close to something that might threaten the government? Nope, we are sheep and we are content to thinking that having the 'freedom' to vote for the two candidates selected for us somehow makes us free. We are more like fish in a tank. We swim around happily, build little nests and have young. We might even get eaten, but hey that is life and if need be, they remove the bad fish that did it. Life goes on. Swim on little fishy.
No, the governments know that they do not have to control us, they just have to give us the illusions that we need. And as long as we are filling the coffers of those that are really in charge, nothing will change.