The Bush administration has told us repeatedly how things have "changed" since 9/11. Drastic new (un-American) measures are now necessary to keep our country secure. Torture, illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens, extraordinary rendition, the "unitary executive," etc., etc. *
They're just trying to cover their ass after the fact.
The truth is that the 9/11 attacks happened on their watch and the Bush administration had been inept at preventing them, though they'd been warned in no uncertain terms. (Presidential Daily Briefing: "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States".) They knew of the possibility that civilian aircraft would be used as bombs. You'd think perhaps they'd have had some Air Force planes at the ready to intervene--we've got the biggest military in the world. You'd be wrong.
So then after the attacks, the Bush administration devises a bunch of police-state tactics (which also enable them to snoop on their political enemies here at home**), with the implication that had these tactics been in place before 9/11, the 9/11 attacks wouldn't have happened. They weren't incompetent, no; their hands had been tied by our old-timey laws written for a bygone era. ("Quaint" as Alberto Gonzalez said***.)
Meanwhile, I have yet to see any reliable information that says these police-state tactics are actually working. Bill Clinton was able to thwart Y2K attacks without taking away our freedoms.
Fortunately for us, the Bush administration will soon be gone and hopefully we'll get our freedoms back.
*not to mention an unprovoked war in Iraq, but that's not the topic here
**policy and politics going hand in hand in the Bush Administration
***of the Geneva Conventions, which are part of American law. You're left to wonder what other laws he considered "quaint."