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Tags: postal service | spying | police | federal | agencies

Law Enforcement Spies on Thousands of Americans' Mail

By    |   Monday, 24 June 2024 03:37 PM EDT

The U.S. Postal Service rarely denies requests from police and federal agents looking for information displayed on letters and packages — without a court order.

The Washington Post reported Postal Service officials have gotten more than 60,000 such requests since 2015; 97% of them were approved. Records show postal inspectors recorded more than 312,000 letters and packages between 2015 and 2023, the outlet reported.

Known as the "mail covers program," the surveillance technique is used by postal inspectors to help track down suspects or evidence — and it’s legal, the Post reported. They only share what’s seen on the outside of the mail. The Fourth Amendment requires them to get a warrant to look inside.

However, the Postal Service’s law enforcement arm, the Postal Inspection Service, has traditionally declined to say how often it facilitates such requests, arguing in a 2015 audit such details could wind up “alerting criminals” as to how the technique works.

The IRS, FBI and Department of Homeland Security were among the top requesters, according to that 2015 audit; the USPS approved over 158,000 requests in the previous four years, according to the report.

A May 2023 letter from eight senators, including Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., urged the agency to require a federal judge to approve the requests — and to share more details on the program, the outlet reported. But the chief postal inspector, Gary Barksdale, declined to change the policy. 

Federal agencies, and state and local police forces made an average of about 6,700 requests a year, the Post reported.

Barksdale told the senators in a June 2023 letter the program was not a “large-scale surveillance apparatus” and focused only on mail that could help police and national security agencies “carry out their missions and protect the American public," the outlet reported.

Wyden wasn’t convinced.

“New statistics show that thousands of Americans are subjected to warrantless surveillance each year, and that the Postal Inspection Service rubber stamps practically all of the requests they receive,” he charged, according to the Post.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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The U.S. Postal Service rarely denies requests from police and federal agents looking for information contained on letters and packages - without a court order. It was reported that Postal Service officials have gotten more than 60,000 such requests since 2015 ...
postal service, spying, police, federal, agencies
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Monday, 24 June 2024 03:37 PM
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