US Postal Service has been tracking all mail sent within the country for more than a DECADE
- The USPS receives over 15,000 tracking requests a year
- Tracking has gone on for over 100 years
- Mail tracking was first disclosed after a Texas woman was busted for sending ricin-laced letters to US President Barack Obama, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a Bloomberg-sponsored gun control lobby
By Ryan Gorman PUBLISHED: 19:38 EST, 4 July 2013 |
Federal officials have been tracking all mail sent through the United States Postal Service for well over a decade, but have been monitoring select pieces of mail for over a century.
Using a pair of systems that snap images of envelopes and catalogue them into batches, the federal government tracks all mail sent in the United States, and has been able track down multiple suspected terrorists, according to media reports. Though the automated systems are only about a decade old, the mail covers monitoring program dates back almost 100 years.
The system tracks names, addresses, return addresses and postmark locations, an expert told the New York Times, explaining that it effectively maps out an individual’s network of contacts for the federal government.
The postal service’s Automated Facer Canceller System (AFCS) and the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program gained minor notoriety a few weeks ago after it was used to catch Shannon Richardson after she was accused of mailing ricin-laced letters to US President Barack Obama, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a Bloomberg-sponsored gun control lobby.
AFCS and MICT are back in the news after a Buffalo man mistakenly received a post card meant for internal use by the USPS detailing that all mail sent to him is to be tracked, according to the paper.
‘Show all mail to supv’ — supervisor — ‘for copying prior to going out on the street,’ the paper reported the card read, adding that it included ‘Pickering’s name, address and the type of mail that needed to be monitored. The word ‘confidential’ was highlighted in green.’
AFCS and MICT track the mail using images of the outsides of envelopes and packages, but the mail cannot be opened without a warrant, the paper noted, over 15,000 requests are received by the USPS for mail covers every year. Monitoring can last from 30-120 days, the Times added.
Initially a manual process that only tracked specific persons’ correspondence, the automated digital program tracking everyone was started in response to anthrax mailings in the wake of 9/11 that killed multiple postal workers and requires only a letter to the postal service for a request to be granted, according to the paper, making it far easier to gain access than a wiretap, which requires a judge’s signature. The mail covers program was actually the basis for the NSA’s PRISM spying program, the paper added.
As reported last month by Mail Online, Shannon Richardson was found out by investigators after they used batches of mail images to narrow down the mail to her Texas town’s zip code, eventually leading the feds to her. Though she initially tried to blame her husband in the mailings, she eventually confessed.
Federal agencies have also used the mail covers to track down suspected Medicare fraudsters, corrupt politicians, drug smugglers and even a South Carolina couple running a brothel, the paper reported.
Calling it a treasure trove of information, 34-year FBI veteran James Wednick told the paper that ‘looking at just the outside of letters and other mail, I can see who you bank with, who you communicate with,’ adding that the evidence gathered is usually strong enough to later obtain a subpoena.
Though arrested dozens of times for his activism, according to the paper, Pickering claims he is not a terrorist, had nothing to do with Earth Liberation Front arson attacks and should not have his mail tracked.
‘I’m no terrorist, I’m an activist’ Pickering told the paper, ‘I’m just a guy who runs a bookstore [named Burning Books] and has a wife and a kid.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2356571/US-Postal-Service-tracking-mail-sent-country–just-like-NSAs-PRISM-spying.html#ixzz2YA0QG7uo
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