I know this isn't going to be a popular opinion with the Slashdot crowd, but here goes anyway...
There's been plenty of information about the NSA's program for more than TEN years. U.S. Citizens, however, trusted that their government was doing the right thing when the NSA was constructing its electronic dragnet because it was right after 9/11.
So honest question: What makes you believe that the government is doing "the wrong thing" now? I'm being serious here, because as far as I can tell, nothing that Snowden has said has proving that the NSA is abusing what it's been doing. If he had some documented evidence, for example, that the NSA had used its surveillance capabilities to spy on someone for non-terrorism political purposes, things might be different.
From what I can tell, the programs at the NSA are designed only to collect the data. It's specifically to avoid this situation:
Steve: Ha ha, you capitalist pigs, I've blown up buildings and killed hundreds of your citizens!
NSA: Hello, Verizon? We have a warrant, could you please pull Steve's phone records for the past five years so that we can see who he's been hanging out with, to see if maybe there's a mastermind here that we can take down?
Verizon: Gee, we wish we could help, but our data retention policy is that we purge those records after a year. Sorry, but here's what we've got, hope it helps.
NSA: Well, shit, we think that Steve was radicalized back in 2009, we could really use those records. Hey Google, any chance you've kept his emails?
Google: Sorry, nope. We can tell you that he sure does like My Little Pony and prefers Angel Soft brand toilet tissue, though.
Dan: Remember Steve? Well, I'm his buddy and now I have blown up buildings and killed hundreds more people, ha ha!
In other words, I don't think this is an inherently evil program, as long as it has proper oversight, assurances that it can't be abused, and that the oversight and legal framework under which it operates is transparent. That is, none of these secret laws that we have currently. There are some Congresscritters that are currently working to make those laws public, which is a Good Thing(tm). Assurances that it can't be abused would come in the form of auditing. This isn't unheard of, it's the same kind of auditing that, for example, holds credit card companies accountable for ensuring that the customer service person you talk to when you call their 800 number doesn't write your card number down and carry it out with them to go shopping with that night.
Of course, oversight is always the sticking point. When George W. Bush was in office, Democrats didn't trust him to carry out proper oversight of these programs, but Republicans simply brushed off criticism saying, "Just trust him, he's a nice guy, he wouldn't do that kind of evil stuff." Now that Barack Obama is in office, Republicans are crying foul. Oversight needs to be in the form of non-partisan courts and subject to multiple levels of scrutiny, and we the public need to be aware of what kind of system is in place to oversee this stuff.
Otherwise, you and everyone else decrying these programs are going to have to accept that without them, people WILL needlessly die, that we could have prevented it and deliberately chose not to. And when they do and there's an outcry over how awful it is that our intelligence organizations failed us so miserably, you're going to have to be on the front lines defending it, explaining to an angry and grieving public that those lives were simply the price we have to pay for freedom and privacy. And if you think that it's a small price to pay for freedom and privacy, then more power to you. But instead of getting all butt-sore about the NSA, PRISM, or the Bush and/or Obama administrations, the actual EFFECTIVE recourse is to lobby your Congresscritters to repeal or amend the USA PATRIOT act. Because for all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth, the organizations and administrations involved in these programs are merely exercising the legal authority that Congress granted them. And I'm not being facetious--go for it. Hell, you might be able to start a movement and convince enough people that it will happen.
But you'll also need to realize when you do that not everyone agrees with you. For all of the trite repetition of telling people that they deserve neither freedom nor liberty, most of us live out here in the practical world where we don't view the world as black and white as you do, so you might (probably, in my estimation) not get your way. And when that happens, instead of whining about how awful it is that we live in such oppressive times under such a tyrannical regime, consider that forcing your notion of "freedom" on a public that expresses through elections that they disagree with you is about as tyrannical as it gets, so what does that make you?
Anyway, I strongly suspect that I'll be modded down because of the knee-jerk "Oh noes, government surveillance is teh ebil!" leaning that Slashdot in general has, and I don't entirely disagree with the general ideal. But until more information comes out that this specific program has been abused in some non-hypothetical instance and exactly how, I'm willing to not jump to conclusions, to let it ride for a while and see where it ends up. And while I find the notion of persistent surveillance distasteful, I'm also practical enough to understand the shades of gray involved in these issues.