Best post on the thread. Probably too late to be properly modded up.
There are some things I always think when I read threads like this. One is the American public's horror at surveillance is a kind of induction-from-introspection. They know themselves and what they might be tempted to do. They know how blase they are about The Lives Of Other People ( also the title of a great movie on just this subject and not a waste of your time should you make an effort to find it) . So they can infer what goes on.
They also know some history both American and foreign and they know as one poster said, it all starts with lists.
Another thing think influences their reaction is how they're treated by private entities, not the government. That might best be described as "extremely unfairly". In companies, at school, even in friendships, what is true and real, the actual facts of a matter rarely count for much. Instead, it's some kind of autocratic and often despotic process with some HR-type fig leaf thrown over it.
Read the headlines about what corporations do to their employees, their customers, they government and then realize that this same corporate culture is the hand that feeds these Americans. Corporations aren't just places we go to work like restaurants are places we go to eat and theaters are places we go to see movies; they're more like pirate ships we are sworn to for a time and we continue to eat and live another day only at the captains pleasure. It's more like that.
So of course they carry that despotic model of authority into their reasoning about terror watchlists and the like.
How we are treated and how we treat each other in daily life has big implications for how we perceive the world around us, at least, barring an aggressive and sustained effort by an individual to eschew anything but well-founded facts when reasoning about, say, the government. A national security lawyer is going to fall into the later category, but most people never will.
On top of all this, there does seem to be an out-of-control element to the CI behavior, a perception shared by many in the IC community itself BTW. The most obvious example is the parsing of the Fourth Amendment to mean you can collect everyone's "papers" but you haven't "searched" it until a human has peaked at it. That's the most charitable way to describe their legal viewpoint.
Now clearly, their fears about terrorism are more specific, more graphic and more realistic and occupy more of their waking moments than non-CI population. It may be a matter of fact- it may be reality- that to protect the nation against a devastating and destabilizing terrorist attack, doing what they're doing is an obvious necessity. That may actually be the case. The problem is, just because the IC community has such a well developed map of the threat matrix, they are out of touch with the prevailing American's perception of how to deal with terrorism. That and of course they can't tell the public what they're doing, for obvious reasons.
But it could also be that they are erring on a dangerous side of caution, and accidentally laying the foundation for a future, unusurpable fascism. This is nothing to dismiss.
But in either case, the IC leadership are so out of sync with the public that even seasoned senators and members of the IC community itself are at odds with them. This and , quite frankly, they're massive liars. James Clappers bald-faced lying to Congress followed on by his bald-faced lying about why he lied to Congress (claiming he was forced to because they were in open session, which is a point blank, no-shades-of-gray lie for reasons I won't go into right now ) was a hugely damaging event to the nation. Trust in the IC community by large segments of people in this nation and other nations went to zero and has stayed there. And yet, he (with the blessings of the Obama administration) carries on, which itself is a kind of slap in the face to the American public.
The paranoia and loathing expressed in this thread is not without a foundation in the authors' collective realities. There is no "good news" in the way of trustworthiness coming to them from people with power or in authority, in any part of their lives. Defense contractors rip them off while vets go un-cared for; companies offshore their profits while outsourcing their jobs; Wall Street steals their money, ruins the nation, then steals some more so they can keep alive and pay themselves huge salaries in order to get back to the business of stealing money. All of this is unnecessary, running to ruinous, to the economy and frankly immoral. That's their world. A world where people with power exploit it to the hilt and the things like principles and ideals, even the Constitution itself are what these people have printed on their toilet paper, because they think that's funny.
So yeah, people are paranoid, but the reasons for that run deep and are represent than just some quirky national character flaw. Whether they are right or whether they are wrong, it's hard to blame them or make the claim that their paranoia is all so unreasonable.
All the while Congress