It’s called the “Mail Cover Program” and it’s run by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Yes, even the Post Office is spying on us, writes John Kiriakou.
By John Kiriakou
Special to Consortium News
You may remember that last year some nut was arrested for mailing bombs to prominent Democrats, media outlets, and opponents of Donald Trump. Less than a week after the bombs went out, a suspect was arrested. Almost immediately, video turned up of him at a Trump rally, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hate and chanting for the camera. He was soon tried, convicted, and jailed. End of story.
But it wasn’t the end of the story. The investigation into the bomb incidents focused attention on an almost unknown federal surveillance program—one that poses a direct threat to the privacy and constitutional rights of every American. It’s called the “Mail Cover Program” and it’s run by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Yes, even the Post Office is spying on us.
The Mail Cover Program allows postal employees to photograph and send to federal law enforcement organizations (FBI, DHS, Secret Service, etc.) the front and back of every piece of mail the Post Office processes. It also retains the information digitally and provides it to any government agency that wants it—without a warrant.
In 2015, the USPS Inspector General issued a report saying that, “Agencies must demonstrate a reasonable basis for requesting mail covers, send hard copies of request forms to the Criminal Investigative Service Center for processing, and treat mail covers as restricted and confidential…A mail cover should not be used as a routine investigative tool. Insufficient controls over the mail cover program could hinder the Postal Inspection Service’s ability to conduct effective investigations, lead to public concerns over privacy of mail, and harm the Postal Service’s brand.”
Return to Sender
Not only were the admonitions ignored, the mail cover program actually expanded after report’s release. Indeed, in the months after that report was issued, there were 6,000 requests for mail cover collection. Only 10 were…