A government with authoritarian-minded bureaucrats and politicians (or simply with fearful pussy bureaucrats and politicians who are hysterically fearful in a honest way) cannot turn a democratic, free country into a total surveillance and omnipotent police state overnight. This can only be done at the pace permitted by the people.
The agenda towards more snooping, more surveillance, more police powers was kept in check till the early 1990's by the need to be different than the Warsaw pact. Total surveillance, unlimited detention, torture and the like were perceived as 'communist' government actions, and largely unacceptable in the West. Only minorities (black civil rights movement in the USA, for example) and foreigners in foreign countries (CIA torture in Latin America) were exposed to such methods.
This barrier fell with the demise of the Warsaw Pact; soon thereafter, the roots of a surveillance state had their breakthrough. Germany introduced a telephone surveillance law in the mid-90's, for example. Just as it was still publicly exasperated by the revelations about what the STASI did in East Germany.
Huge steps faced huge opposition and were rare without much support, of course. Small steps towards more surveillance, more snooping, more police and intelligence services powers were made instead; the salami slice approach. ideally, no single slice was large enough to mobilize the critical mass of political opposition. The next slice was in order once the people had accustomed to the last one. It was quite the same as with the creeping militarisation of foreign policy in Germany since the mid-90's.
Some slices cannot be kept small, though - the expansion sometimes bumps into taboos, and overcoming those means the slice will be large and visible. That's when hysterias are being provoked and exploited ruthlessly.
Every terror attack - domestic or abroad, "successful" or foiled - draws the pro-authoritarians into the spotlight, and they pretend loudly that breaking freedom-protecting taboos adds security. They even do it when the country hit by a "successful" terror attack actually already had gotten rid of said taboo, proving that this wouldn't protect. Effectiveness doesn't matter, of course: The authoritarians do this as a matter of principle and ideology, not because it would actually work well.
Shortly thereafter, some bill is drafted for taboo-abolishing legislation that makes us less free and the government less restricted, more powerful.
And thus we're getting salami-sliced into a less free society, and pulsed by actually negligible acts of terror into giving up even large chunks of freedom.
This strategy works. It doesn't win every battle, but it's about to win the war because there's no antagonist strategy rolling all the rubbish back. You cannot win by defending only if the attacker doesn't get depleted.
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I didn't add links to this text because I had dozens of old Defence and Freedom blog posts in mind while writing it. See for yourself:
A recent example is being provided by the British, with the serial liar Blair as one of the instigators:
It has all the features: Breaking of well-founded taboos, known to be ineffective rubbish, exploiting the post-Hebdo hysteria, attempt to make the legislation low profile (keeping the slice size small).