As Edward Snowden manages to stretch his 15 minutes of fame to four weeks, those of us who know the context realize his revelations are nothing special. The U.S. government has been spying on its citizens, often without warrants, for decades.
If you doubt the government reserves the right to monitor whatever it likes, dive into any book by James Bamford. My favorite is his early work, "The Puzzle Palace," but take your pick. If you think you're cool with your government doing just about anything to protect us against terrorists and criminals, you won't be after a few hundred pages.
We all know 9/11 raised snooping to a new level. The Patriot Act and even seemingly innocuous telecommunications bills have spelled out the privacy incursions our government can employ against its citizens. These initiatives have instructed telecoms and ISPs to make all their traffic easily tappable and to provide areas for spies to do their job. It's written into law.
Personally, I can't understand why we've allowed the continued erosion of our Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. Can fear of terrorism be that all-consuming? Our founding fathers would roll over in their graves to learn that we allow our garbage, telephone call origination information, and vehicles whereabouts to be open to scrutiny, all without a warrant.
Plus, requests for warrants are hardly ever turned down. The FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court reviews and approves surveillance warrant requests, and in its 35-year history, only 10 petitions have been denied out of some 21,000.