This is going to be a short post. I strongly recommend you hie yourself over to Salon and read how we've become subject to a military operating without restrictions or accountability.
Radley Balko has put together a chilling summary of the militarization of police forces around the country: “Why did you shoot me? I was reading a book”: The new warrior cop is out of control. They don't need warrants; they don't even need a major crime. All they need is an excuse, and the S.W.A.T. teams are turned loose.
The short version is, give police overwhelming firepower and they'll find a reason to use it. Frequently. In ways that defy either sense or legitimacy. Sure, everybody cheered when Boston was on lock-down while police searched for the Boston Marathon Bombers. After 911 we all accepted the idea that there were Things That Had To Be Done. But there are two words we all need to keep in mind: mission creep.
Snowden has shown the government has gone way beyond constitutional limits when it comes to domestic spying, and that oversight is a joke. (As is the trustworthiness of the assurances we've been given.) As for the massive police response in Boston, comforting as it was, the question we should be asking is, what are all those heavily armed policemen doing the rest of the time, and where?
We've spent the last few years building ourselves a security state. Of course if you really want to know what the logical extrapolation of a security state looks like, go check out a prison. We're not quite all the way there yet, but Balko has put together a rather chilling summary of how far down that road we've gone.