The Feds Are Spying On Your Snail Mail Too

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“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” – The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution

Amid reports of the National Security Agency’s sweeping surveillance efforts centered on collecting electronic communications data, many Americans have expressed concern about their privacy on the technological front.

But a report out Wednesday from The New York Times offers a reminder: The NSA is not the only government agency spying on Americans.

Leslie James Pickering, a former member of a radical environmental group labeled eco-terrorists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation called the Earth Liberation Front, told the Times that he found a misplaced card in his mailbox last September that indicated that the United States Postal Service was monitoring his mail.

Via the Times:

Postal officials subsequently confirmed they were indeed tracking Mr. Pickering’s mail but told him nothing else.

As the world focuses on the high-tech spying of the National Security Agency, the misplaced card offers a rare glimpse inside the seemingly low-tech but prevalent snooping of the United States Postal Service.

Mr. Pickering was targeted by a longtime surveillance system called mail covers, but that is only a forerunner of a vastly more expansive effort, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, in which Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images.

Together, the two programs show that snail mail is subject to the same kind of scrutiny that the National Security Agency has given to telephone calls and e-mail.

Sam Rolley

Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After covering community news and politics, Rolley took a position at Personal Liberty Media Group where could better hone his focus on his true passions: national politics and liberty issues. In his daily columns and reports, Rolley works to help readers understand which lies are perpetuated by the mainstream media and to stay on top of issues ignored by more conventional media outlets.

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  • Shorty Stuff

    Silly komrades … you really think you have 4th Amendment rights? Obama’s gestapo is above the law, don’t ya know? Seig Heil, Seig Heil, mein Fuhrer obamahitler is creating the 4th Reich, aka the luciferian age.

  • Mike S

    Yes indeed the Postal Service captures an image of just about every mail piece that is processed through their mail sorters. The primary reason for this is to read the address of the package or letter, not for tracking of criminals or terrorists.

    After the image is captured, it is deciphered by a group of computers, which are capable of reading about 97% of all images and coming up with an address for delivery. The images that cannot be deciphered by computer are sent to a national center where humans look at the image on a computer screen and read the address.

    The PO has recently started using what is called “IMB” or “Intelligent Mail Barcode” This is the new style black barcode on the front of the letter. It contains your eleven digit zip code for use in delivering the letter to your home or business. Mailers can also use the IMB for many different things to help decide the most effective use of the mail for advertising or tracking, etc.

    The orange barcode on the back side of the letter is used to identify mail piece images stored on computers. It tells us when (within a half hour) and on which machine in a processing facility the mail piece was processed. It also identifies a stored image for processing at it’s destination. As I understand from my training as a postal electronic tech, the information is typically purged after about 30 days.

    They still need a search warrant to actually open a letter for criminal investigations.

    • independent thinker

      You should change “need” to “are supposed to get” in your last sentence.

    • Ibn Insha

      Knowing that government records all our electronic communications there is no doubt that it keeps the images of our mail envelopes longer than needed and analyzes them for a possible link to terrorists, making each and every American a suspect.

    • 1baronrichsnot1

      Do you really think they would bother with a warrant? Maybe a blanket warrant? Do you really think they will purge the collective system after 30 days? They haven’t purged anything, only added to the collecting of infor mation they gather. Most all gov’t agencies collect every thing on everybody they “service”. That information will be there, usable, and stored if ever “needed”, bet your azz.

  • glock 19 fan

    This is nothing new; the IRS has been reading First Class mail for decades on the bare assumption that taxes are being evaded. Forget about your mail being sacro-sanct; that hasn’t been true since about 1913.

  • 1baronrichsnot1

    No more money for the usps, not only are they a spy organization, but they don’t even like Boy scouts. They were instrumental in allowing gays into BSA, I guess because they like gays? We only have a few agencies left who haven’t been caught spying by the people and Ed Snowden. I expect the rest will be caught in spying activities. We have a very corrupt, non people representing, bunch of communist/marxist inbedded at about every level in our gov’t. They have corrupted almost every politician with green and blackmail. Goes really deep doesn’t it? It just goes on and on. We have the proof, now just to find a batch of reps with the balls to wipe out this gov’t sucking group of communist thugs. If and when we find em, we have to install them, to begin a road back to freedom.