Prosecutors have become kings, with the ability to find a crime committed by just about anyone. Data mining and access to internet activity can help find terrorists, but it also can be used to find crimes which were not previously known to have been committed by political opponents.
A “find the target first, then find the crime” political approach requires access to information of an unprecedented level. Which is exactly what is happening.
The issue goes beyond the NSA programs. Obamacare is a form of data mining.
Obamacare will put into the hands of the IRS medical and health information of an unprecedented level. As bad as leaks as to which websites you visit would be, the threat of leakage of your medical information could be equally devastating to freedom of speech and the political process. It would take a mere nod and a wink to convince someone that participation in the political process was not worth it if the result was the exposure of sensitive medical issues.
You can’t separate the data mining, the culture of intimidation, and criminalization of daily life.