U.S. Postal Service Scans and Logs All Mail

UspslogoAnother shocker in the annals of state security versus United States citizens’ right to privacy, from the New York Times:

Leslie James Pickering noticed something odd in his mail last September: A handwritten card, apparently delivered by mistake, with instructions for postal workers to pay special attention to the letters and packages sent to his home.

“Show all mail to supv” — supervisor — “for copying prior to going out on the street,” read the card. It included Mr. Pickering’s name, address and the type of mail that needed to be monitored. The word “confidential” was highlighted in green.

“It was a bit of a shock to see it,” said Mr. Pickering, who owns a small bookstore in Buffalo. More than a decade ago, he was a spokesman for the Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmental group labeled eco-terrorists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 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…

[continues at the New York Times]


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20 Comments on "U.S. Postal Service Scans and Logs All Mail"

  1. Anarchy Pony | Jul 3, 2013 at 8:28 pm |

    Well Fuck! Are we gonna have to start training pigeons!? Maybe I should tie a letter to an arrow.

  2. Calypso_1 | Jul 3, 2013 at 9:40 pm |

    “Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion”

    ….so around 158 billion pics of direct marketing spam.

    • Ittabena | Jul 4, 2013 at 4:14 am |

      Lol, good point.

    • InfvoCuernos | Jul 5, 2013 at 10:59 pm |

      Now we know who’s really behind the push for direct pay-its the IT guys at the post office that have to teach all those dinosaurs how to operate a camera.

  3. Cortacespedes | Jul 3, 2013 at 11:31 pm |

    So, let me get this straight. He was a (self-described) former spokesman for the ELF and he was SHOCKED to find his mail was monitored? The article then ends with this baffling statement “he said his political views and past association should not make him the target of a federal investigation.”

    It’s like COINTELPRO never happened.

    And quite a mistake to believe it ever ended.

  4. kowalityjesus | Jul 4, 2013 at 7:54 am |

    who the fuck is willingly complicit in this horseshit? What is this, East Germany?

  5. It isn’t as if any rational person still believes the USA is a free country. Think about it. No-warrant wire taps, indefinite detention of citizens without charges, approval of rendition of prisoners and torture, stop and frisk without probable cause, search and seizure without a warrant, no-knock entry, confiscation and destruction of cameras that might have been used to film police acting illegally, police brutality, police shootings that go without investigation, managed news, and the civil-rights destroying “Patriot” Act.

    Acts of police behaving illegally, with shootings, Tasers, and unwarranted violence now appear almost daily. Rarely are these offenses punished. Most often “an investigation” is claimed, but soon forgotten.


In addition, the USA, with 5% of the world population, has 25% of all of the prisoners in the world. That means the USA has the most people in prison of any nation in history. Even by percentage of residents incarcerated, not just sheer numbers. USA is # 1!

 Does any of that sound like a free country?

    As Dwight D. Eisenhower said about communism, “It’s like slicing sausage. First they out off a small slice. That isn’t worth fighting over. Then they take another small slice that isn’t worth fighting over. Then another and another. Finally, all you have left is the string and that isn’t worth fighting over, either.

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