Neither Snow nor Rain nor Dark of Night Will Prevent the Post Office from Spying on You

It’s no wonder the federal government is having to spend $2 billion to build a new facility to hold 5 zettabytes of data (for context, according to Wikipedia, the entire World Wide Web contains one-half zettabyte of information).

It has now been revealed that in addition to capturing and indefinitely storing everyone’s email and electronic communications, the USPS also photographs the exterior of every piece of mail, and stores it indefinitely as well:

another program, called “Mail Isolation Control and Tracking,” is much more high-tech. It started in 2001, after anthrax attacks hit at Capitol Hill and at various spots around the nation, and gives U.S. Postal Service workers the ability to photograph the exterior of each piece of mail that passes through the office. The data is then recorded in case it’s needed in a future investigation.

The earlier “mail covers” program had only selectively captured all mail of “persons of interest.” The expansion to capture everyone’s mail was needed, of course, as further detailed by a former senior NSA official, because we are all suspects now.

The U.S. government has well and truly “uncoupled” itself from the Constitution, and the fourth amendment is history.

With every part of our every communication now stored indefinitely for the national security state to pick and choose among at its leisure, we would do well to heed the danger to each and every one of us:

“If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.”—Armand Jean du Plessis, cardinal-duc de Richelieu et de Fronsac

“Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.”—Lavrenti Beria, Stalin’s secret police chief

“Enemy of the state” is awfully easy to redefine.

Mary L. G. Theroux is Senior Vice President of the Independent Institute. Having received her A.B. in economics from Stanford University, she is Managing Director of Lightning Ventures, L.P., a San Francisco Bay Area investment firm, former Chairman of the Board of Advisors for the Salvation Army of both San Francisco and Alameda County, and Vice President of the C.S. Lewis Society of California.
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