Histrionics aside, according to the WSJ, the "expansive" program is meant to detect assaults on private companies and government agencies deemed critical to the national infrastructure. In other words, utilities like the electricity grid, air-traffic control networks, subway systems, nuclear power plants, and presumably MTV. A set of sensors deployed in computer networks will alert the NSA of a possible cyber attack, with Raytheon winning a classified, $100 million early stage contract for the surveillance effort. Now, before you start getting overly political, keep in mind that the program is being expanded under Obama with funding from the Bush-era Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative. The WSJ also notes that companies won't be forced to install the sensors. Instead, companies might choose to opt-in because they find the additional monitoring helpful in the event of cyber attack -- think of Google's recent run-in with Chinese hackers as a potent example.
Like most citizens, we have mixed emotions about this. On one hand, we cherish our civil liberties and prefer to keep the government out of our personal affairs. On the other, we can barely function when Twitter goes down, let alone the national power grid.