"Your thinking is too limited. It's obvious that they enjoy being the subject of Congressional probes about their failures, with the added chance that the boss could be fired like just happened to two Marine generals fired for negligence in Afghanistan."
Look, I am not pinning all the blame for this on any one person. There is plenty to go around. I see right now the intelligence folks getting real upset with Obama and with due cause. He's being a weasel and trying to throw them under the bus.
Ultimately the scandalous shape of the intelligence agencies has been influenced by executives and legislatures that have wanted 'tough action' or 'do everything possible' or some such formulaic, political reaction without knowing the messy details, and a judiciary all too eager to bend the law to the will of the other two branches. There's plenty of blame to go around and when Obama tries to throw his subordinates under the bus they have every right to be a bit indignant.
"And if it turned out that the attack they didn't stop was one involving Black Plague that ended up killing tens of thousands of Americans, just think of the pride they would feel. "I didn't stop that!""
A black plague attack would be extremely unlikely to kill so many, unless it was accompanied by more conventional attacks that thoroughly knocked out health care facilities as well. It was truly deadly in the middle ages, but then again, quite often so was diarrhea back then - our medicine sucked.
But sure, you have a point. It's perceived as safer, in terms of job, for these people to violate millions of peoples constitutional rights than to have to admit at some point that it is impossible, in anything vaguely resembling a free country, to be absolute sure that bad things can never happen.
This infantile philosophy of government is the root of the problem, not the particular people who happen to be pursuing their career goals at the expense of their country at any given moment.