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Ahhahahaa..."Mail Surveillance"

MikeD

Leader and Demogogue of the Ridemonkey Satinists
Oct 26, 2001
10,091
105
chez moi
No, not "Male Surveillance," n8 (Sorry, picked on Westy already).
But I saw this on the USA Today that's outside my hotel door every morning (I swear) and it made me laugh/cry...then I saw it on the TV news as well, so it's not just a case of a single lame newspaper acting hysterical.

It is so fashionable to cry wolf about civil rights that we're lost in a useless torrent of words that don't address the few, but potentially serious, valid questions about American civil rights today.

Witness our case at hand:

Law enforcement requests for postal info granted

By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — U.S. postal authorities have approved more than 10,000 law enforcement requests to record names, addresses and other information from the outside of letters and packages of suspected criminals every year since 1998, according to U.S. Postal Inspection Service data.
In each of those years, officials approved more than 97% of requests to record the information during criminal inquiries. In 2004, 2005 and 2006, the most recent year provided, officials granted at least 99.5% of requests, according to partial responses to inquiries filed by USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act.

Postal officials have closely guarded the warrantless surveillance mail program, used for decades to track fugitives and to interrupt the delivery of illegal drugs or other controlled substances such as explosives. In other government surveillance, such as most wiretap programs, a judge approves requests. In this one, the USPIS' chief inspector has authority to grant or deny a request.

The Postal Service handles 214 billion pieces of mail each year. Correspondence and packages transported by private carriers, such as FedEx and UPS, are not subject to the surveillance.

When the government's warrantless surveillance of electronic communication has come under fire, civil liberties advocates say, the USPIS' limited disclosure raises serious questions. "The idea of the government tracking that amount of mail is quite alarming," says Jameel Jaffer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's national security project. "When you realize that (the figure) does not include national security matters, the numbers are even more alarming."

Postal officials would not disclose the volume of mail monitored in national security investigations. Because those include terror-related inquiries, the figures do not show whether the Sept. 11 attacks influenced requests or approvals.

In a Feb. 8 response to requests for information, inspection service counsel Anthony Alverno wrote that even revealing the frequency of the surveillance would undermine its effectiveness "to the detriment of the government's national security interests."

Postal officials also would not discuss how much mail is being opened for content examinations, which do require a warrant authorized by a judge.

USPIS spokesman Douglas Bem described the surveillance program as "one of many tools" available to investigators. "Regulations are in place that serve to protect the general population from illegal and unlawful intrusions," Bem says. A 1978 federal appeals court decision upheld the use of such surveillance.

Each request to monitor a sender's mail can cover multiple letters and packages by the same suspects. Bem said the government does not track the total pieces of mail captured in the monitoring program.


#1- This does not violate anyone's right to privacy. The information gathered by the government consists of the information willingly submitted to the government and visible to anyone who cares to look at the envelope, namely, the addressee and return address. This is inherently public, and intended to be viewed by third parties. To view the *contents* of the mail, which are considered private, the government needs a warrant.

#2- As the article glosses over, this is not NEWS. It's been going on for as long as there's been a national postal service. This is standard and always has been, even long before the 1978(!) SCOTUS decision which upheld it. It's called a "mail cover."

#3- The approval rate? Probably because the USPS requires a pretty lengthy submission in order to initiate a mail cover. (I assume to keep the number of requests from other law enforcement agencies to a minimum of necessary cases...) If you're willing to submit the paperwork, you have gotten to a point where you've got pretty good reason. And even if they are rubber-stamping every single request, #1 applies...there is no required level of suspicion to look at third-party info. (Obviously, if the third party is not the government, a grand jury subpoena or other such court order can be necessary to compel a third party to disclose information.)

Some people need to get a ****ing grip.

MD
 

H8R

Cranky Pants
Nov 10, 2004
13,971
20
#1- ...This is inherently public, and intended to be viewed by third parties....
Like who?

I agree with your comments above, but who other than the USPS and the recipient is "intended" to look at the outside of my mail?

I put my mail in the mailbox, it's in the postal system. It leaves the postal system when it's out of the carrier's hand.
 

MikeD

Leader and Demogogue of the Ridemonkey Satinists
Oct 26, 2001
10,091
105
chez moi
Uh, the postal system is a third party...one that you specifically intend to read the envelope. Don't want a third party involved, deliver your note yourself...
 

H8R

Cranky Pants
Nov 10, 2004
13,971
20
Uh, the postal system is a third party...one that you specifically intend to read the envelope. Don't want a third party involved, deliver your note yourself...
Oh.

I thought you meant...

Um.

Er.


Oh fvck it.


:D
 

$tinkle

Expert on blowing
Feb 12, 2003
14,591
5
#2- As the article glosses over, this is not NEWS. It's been going on for as long as there's been a national postal service. This is standard and always has been, even long before the 1978(!) SCOTUS decision which upheld it. It's called a "mail cover."
true.
i've only caught a fed'l charge once, & it was when my mail got opened (i lived on base at the time). just before it was supposed to come to trial, i got lucky: my osi handler started bangin my gf & i stumbled upon it. that, i'm sure, was my one break in life.