Your post reminded me of CNN's "is it a good thing, or a bad thing?" I know we're all busy and have limited time to give to any single post, but I'd like to present my take on what is actually happening.
I won't go into everything that would be a factor in the reasons for NSA spying, nor am I informed enough to do so (none of us are, and that's no accident, we're talking about the NSA here).
A few things that occur to me:
Sure, part of this is about terrorism. Part of it. And their definition of terrorism would not be mine, they would include non-violent populist uprisings in their terrorist web, though they would identify and exploit any actual violence that either comes from such uprisings or that are staged and blamed on them.
I would rather include the corporate polluters who spend money to lobby governments for unimpeded extraction and combustion of the greenhouse-gas producing fossil fuels they are profiting from.
In addition to extraction and delivery of these resources, they also spend a lot of money to misinform the public about the coming consequences of their pollution, funding industry-friendly scientists, owning our major media outlets, funding "think-tanks", and working against, not for, zero or low-emission fuel alternatives, all in the name of profit. Those are the real terrorists, and the planet we live on is not a collection of natural resources for extraction, it is an intricate and dynamic system being pushed beyond its limits by fossil fuel profiteers.
Things like the Arab Spring, 9/11, other terrorist attacks, and Occupy have the attention of governments around the world. They can respond in a number of ways to these events. It appears their responses are oriented more towards control of the populace rather than on listening to and responding to citizens' legitimate concerns and demands.
In addition to those kind of events, they are looking ahead to future economic collapse and catastrophic environmental degradation which will result in massive evacuations and migrations.
We need a mobilization against climate change, a massive economic and lifestyle reconfiguration, and we need it yesterday. Instead, we're seeing an intense ramp-up of security and control systems. They seek not to avoid catastrophic climate change, but to create a total-awareness information network that can be used by both states and corporations against those seeking the drastic change needed to avert the unthinkable, and against the radicalized victims of the disasters we are and will increasingly be facing. They seek continuity of governments and corporate structures, and firewalling of the oligarchs from catastrophe and catastrophe's blowback when the populace realizes what they're in store for.
It is clear to me that the emphasis is on control by the elites of the masses, crushing dissent, and managing crises as much as possible rather than on dealing with the actual problems we face. I realize it's not entirely either-or, the newly arising total information awareness systems would not necessarily preclude prevention efforts, but it would take a lot of denial, IMO, to not see where the priorities are, which is on building populace control systems rather than on building an economic system that is compatible with sustaining human life on this planet for anything more than elites living in artificially controlled environments.
I would like to refer readers to this post
How Science Is Telling Us All To Revolt by Naomi Klein
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