I think an important dynamic involved in this topic that has not been discussed is the lack of oversight in these programs.
Naturally after the events of 9/11 the government is going to be more zealous in its intelligence gathering operations. Phone taps, call databases and internet traffic monitoring are in my opinion perfectly legitimate tools to thwart or further understand terroist operations and communication.
I do not however feel that there is any strategic benefit in keeping these programs under wraps. Are we to assume that terorrist do not already suspect court ordered surveilence on their actions possible?
Why are these programs being kept secret from the public? Why is there no judicial oversight? If it is a problem with consitutional protections put in place after prior abuses of power, why aren't we ammending those protections or at least discussing that possibility. Why hasn't the scope of these projects been brought to light?
The executive branch has been in a perpetual power grab since 9/11 and the congress has failed to check the powers of the President. I dont find that statement argumentative or partisan and I think considering the facts most citizens would agree. They would also likely agree that these programs are necessary but that they should operate within the context of the law and have some type of oversight conducted by more then one branch of government.