Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Tell post offices not to spy on the public
While the activities of the United States’ National Security Agency have recently garnered plenty of press, other less subtle ways of monitoring the public’s information have been receiving less attention. For example, Mr. Leslie James Pickering noticed a card that accidentally got left in with his mail. The card read “Show all mail to [supervisor] for copying prior to going out on the street” and included Pickering’s name, address, and the word ‘confidential’ highlighted near the bottom of the card. Pickering was targeted in particular because he was part of an environmental group called Earth Liberation more than ten years ago which was labelled as an eco-terrorist group. Now he has discovered that his post is still closely monitored and recorded by the US Postal service.
Pickering was the victim of a forerunner of the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking Program, which was created after anthrax attacks resulted in the death of five people. Although actually opening mail legally requires a warrant, post offices are still allowed to monitor, photograph, and record anything that is written on the outside of envelopes. Under the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking Program, Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of mail processed in the US and saves them for an unknown amount of time.
James Wedick, a former F.B.I. agent said that “[the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking Program] can be easily abused because it’s so easy to use and you don’t have to go through a judge to get the information.” This ease of access is what worries citizens and what makes this program and others like it so dangerous. Ask President Obama to respect citzens’ right to privacy and get rid of the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking Program.
Dear President Obama,
The Mail Isolation Control and Tracking Program is in violation of citizens’ rights to privacy. The private information contained on mailing envelopes should not be made accessible to government agencies without due suspicion.
Indiscriminately recording every piece of mail that goes through the US Postal service is wasteful and makes citizens fearful that their private information is being made public. Even though only the exterior of mail can legally be read without authorization as of now, contact and banking information is still kept record and made accessible to government officials.
This program is unnecessarily threatening and can only be used to look up information on people post hoc. Because of this, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking Program is not working to ensure safety, rather to dig up past information on individuals which should be kept private. As in the case of Mr. Leslie James Pickering, individuals are frequently profiled inappropriately through this and similar mail tracking programs.
I urge you to rectify this infringement upon privacy and get rid of the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking Program.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Indiana Public Media via Flickr