The Verizon order was problematic, but the PRISM program revealed by the WaPo yesterday seems much worse than that.
A key lesson, I argue, is that as often happens the separation of powers doesn’t produce checks and balances so much as the legislative branch delegating broad authority so it can wash its hands of a policy problem. The Bush and Obama administrations are the primary villains here; power delegated can go unused or be used more prudently. But this kind of overreach was inevitable as soon as the modified FISA passed, and my guess is that congressional majorities will continue to find this state of affairs perfectly. At any rate, read the whole thing for the whole argument.
…and, yes, the fact that there’s no political price to be paid for erring on the anti-privacy side is a major part of the problem.