The whole spying issue is a lot more complicated than many people seem to accept.
Yesterday, I participated in a debate featuring as the central speaker the new boss of the German Liberal Party (FDP - Freie Demokratische Partei), Christian Lindner. (European sense of liberal, as opposed to American sense of "liberal = social democratic).
Interestingly, it turns out that the German secret service is heavily dependent on the NSA to do its job - not least because German law makes it difficult or impossible for German information agencies to gather information thankfully available from the NSA.
Spying is one of these issues that are fundamentally problematic, and can never be resolved to the fullest satisfaction. Which is why it is important that we keep an eye on it, and argue - to the best of our abilities - from a position of competence and discernment, rather than emoting and jumping to conclusions that rational reflection and research within our means would prove inappropriate.
The main point I had to make vis-à-vis the results of the discussion: I am far more concerned about, indeed afraid of the arbitrary acts perpetrated by the European Commission against Germans (and other Europeans) than by the potential of arbitrary acts that may be committed by the NSA against my fellow citizens and myself.
That is not to trivialise the spying issue; however as long as an attack on and a perversion of freedom and democracy as large-scale and powerful as the European Union is not even identified as a threat to Europeans, I have a hard time accepting that people are getting their priorities right at all.
Secret services will always give rise to problems of civic adequateness, but they become epidemically dangerous only when people lose interest in the non-totalitarian quality of the political order in which they live.
Try telling someone from the US why we Germans have no problem sitting in a sauna full of naked people but get nervous when the Google camera-car rolls by and takes digital images of our houses. I gave it my best shot, but let's just say this: Our concept of the private sphere is not immediately clear to people abroad.
I've also learned that it is no easy task to clarify to Americans why Germans are more than happy to consign their children to state care when they are just one year old but would go through hell and high water to keep their personal information out of state hands. In most cases, Americans don't like the state nosing into their personal affairs. But, when it comes to internal and external security, they have resigned themselves to the necessity of government meddling.
For some reason, we Germans have taken the exact opposite approach: We delegate things to the state that we could take care of ourselves. But when it comes to issues we can't do alone, we don't trust the state to do them either.
Make sure to read the entire essay, whose author prominently figured in yesterday's debate.
Also pertinent, this interview with a former NSA director.
And here is what Richard Epstein thinks about the matter.
See also my post Snowden and Civil Courage, most notably the comments.