When Congress passed the PATRIOT Act in October 2001, it gave the federal government greater authority for foreign intelligence and terrorism investigations. In those panicky days, the impulse was to say: Do whatever you have to do, and if the American Civil Liberties Union isn't happy, do more of it.
But even those who wanted to unleash the national security state didn't realize what they were creating. Not until 2013, when leaks by Edward Snowden exposed the actual scope of government surveillance, did we find out how far the Bush administration and the Obama administration were willing to go in sacrificing privacy. Now, as Steve Chapman notes, many leaders are looking to maybe walk it back.