Cringely:

Fortunately, someone has built a life raft for those of us drowning in the tsunami of data about NSA spying. Last week the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan think tank and advocacy group, published a remarkably clear breakdown called “What the Government Does with Americans’ Data.” It should be required reading for anyone who cares about what’s left of our Constitution, once the buffoons in our nation’s capital have stopped using it as confetti. There’s an 88-page report, a summary of the conclusions, chilling numbers to consider, and a handful of amazingly concise infographics. Start with the latter to get the gist, then go to the intro.

The tl;dr version: The NSA gathers a massive amount of information on people who are not in any way connected with any terrorist activity, then holds onto it for at least five years and often much longer. It also shares this information with 10 different federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, and the FDA.

The article itself is a link-o-rama. You owe it to yourself to read the whole thing.

My takeaway from it is this. Anyone using web-based email has opened up their entire lives to anyone in Washington wanting to do a little poking around. I don’t know how much more secure regular email is, but it seems like the NSA has, or has the ability to scan, anybody’s address book and buddy lists they want.

That’s not far from the midnight-knock-on-the-door territory.