US Postal Service surveillance meme
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There are apparently still people — some who frequent this web site — who believe that what they say and otherwise communicate online is private. As a former girlfriend’s mother would have said, “Oh, bless their hearts.”

The more cynical among us have assumed for years that the FBI, NSA, CIA and who knows how many other alphabet agencies whose remits include anything they call ‘law enforcement’ or ‘national security’ can and do hoover up information from individuals and groups in the U.S. on a regular basis.

They do this claiming it’s all part of monitoring internal “threats” and keeping us all safe. You know, from our enemies. Many of these domestic surveillance activities can and have been called illegal intrusions by a range of groups…for all the good that does.

Now, thanks to a fellow at the Cato Institute, we know of a domestic spy agency most of us probably hadn’t considered before…the U.S. Postal Service.

Yes, the same people who routinely fold, spindle, and mutilate your mail (when they manage to get it to you at all) have also been spying on groups they evidently consider to be “threats.”

The Washington Times reports today that . . .

Cato Institute senior fellow Patrick Eddington obtained the heavily redacted records detailing the postal inspectors’ spying from September 2020 through April 2021, including through covert social media surveillance called the Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP).

The records provide a rare glimpse into the breadth and depth of the Postal Service’s surveillance apparatus, which Mr. Eddington said was capable of reaching into every home and business in the country. 

iCOP…how’s that for a wonderfully Orwellian moniker?

“The Postal Service cannot reliably deliver mail to my own home, yet they can find the money and people to effectively digitally spy at scale, including on Americans engaged in First Amendment-protected activities,” Mr. Eddington said. 

That is strange, isn’t it? Beyond securing safe and reliable mail delivery, why would the Postal Service care about what people are saying in the letters (remember those?) they deliver, let alone online…a means of communication in which they’re not involved in any way?

What’s even more strange is the postal inspectors’ choice of surveillance targets, which, according to the Washington Times report, included attendees of last year’s annual Virginia Citizens Defense League Lobby Day event in Richmond, Virginia.

You may remember how big an event that was in 2020, when Virginia’s then-Governor Ralph “Coonman” Northam, who was pushing a slate of gun control laws, banned the carry of firearms in and around the capitol and fenced off a large portion of the grounds.

Pro Gun Rally Virginia
Demonstrators are seen during a pro-gun rally, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Sarah Rankin)

All that did was ensure a huge crowd of Second Amendment supporters attended.

Pro Gun Rally Virginia
People line up outside the capitol before a pro gun rally, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

But a funny thing happens when law-abiding gun owners assemble to support their right to keep and bear arms by exercising their First Amendment right of free speech. They protest peacefully. No stores are burned, no police cars are torched, and no autonomous “free zones” are established. They arrive, they protest, and they go home, usually including picking up their own garbage.

After the huge 2020 turnout, the Postal Service’s spies inspectors were apparently concerned that the 2021 Lobby Day event would be more of the same (i.e., peaceful protest in support of an enumerated civil right).

A redacted situational awareness bulletin released in response to Mr. Eddington’s Freedom of Information Act request showed the U.S. Postal Inspection Service tracked “peaceful armed protests” by Virginians demonstrating at a Second Amendment rally for “Lobby Day” in Richmond on Jan. 18, 2021. 

“The gathering lasted approximately two hours, with members identifying themselves as affiliates of the Proud Boys, Boogaloo Bois and Last Sons of Liberty,” the postal inspectors’ bulletin said. “Counter-protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement also attended. With heavy law enforcement presence the demonstrations stayed peaceful in nature.” 

Alright then. But even if all of that is true, how the hell does that — in any way — involve the United States Postal Service?

Asked about its surveillance of Americans, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said its inspectors are federal law enforcement officers charged with protecting Postal Service employees, infrastructure and customers. 

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service occasionally reviews publicly available information in order to assess potential safety or security threats to Postal Service employees, facilities, operations and infrastructure,” the agency said in a statement. 

That’s at least arguable. But again, how does spying on individual U.S. citizens and groups attending an annual pro-Second Amendment event in Virginia somehow threaten “Postal Service employees, facilities, operations and infrastructure”?

Answer: it doesn’t.

The Postal Service inspector general said this year that the postal inspectors’ surveillance overstepped law enforcement authority and may not have had legal approval.

The inspectors disputed that conclusion.

Of course they did. An interesting aspect of the newly disclosed surveillance activities is, what did they do with the information? With whom in law enforcement or the federal government did the USPS share the product of their spying?

That wasn’t addressed in the Washington Times article and don’t hold your breath waiting for the Postal Service to divulge that information.

As a result of an Inspector General’s audit, the USPS agreed to perform “a full review of the analytics team” and to dream up a less disturbing name for its domestic spying directorate than “iCOP.” They have until the end of this month to do that, but good luck ever finding out what the results of that review are — or if it’s ever done at all.

Rule of thumb: assume anything and everything you say and do online is being watched by someone somewhere. Because more often than not, that’s exactly what’s happening.

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69 COMMENTS

  1. Anything you utter on ANY instrument you have can and will be accessed if someone wants to, let’s all understand that!

  2. “through covert social media surveillance called the Internet Covert Operations Program”

    Maybe — and I’m just spitballing here — if an agency is going to exceed its authority by conducting a covert operations program against Americans, then maybe they shouldn’t call it the Covert Operations Program.

    • Why I stay off social media. Not that I have anything to hide. I just think boring others with my life is a cruel and unusual punishment.

  3. I’m eagerly awaiting the report about their covert operations related to stopping left wing political violence in 2020. We’ll have to really scrutinize that one since they obviously failed.

  4. During 25 years in PS I had “contact” with postal inspectors. Anybody who thinks inspectors are some version of mall cops or second rate wanna be operators should think again. They are all business and can be more than a little scary. @

    • Exactly Postal Inspectors do not mess around and they are Federal Law Enforcement. Find it odd they are conducting this kind of operation, they have more than enough dealing with people mailing drugs and other illegal items through the mail.

  5. The U.S. Postal Service monitoring American citizens peacefully exercising their 1st Amendment rights? I think the USPS would be better served surveiling their own employees after all historically their hires are the ones whom “go postal” committing mass murder in their “gun-free” workplaces.

    • Only a few days ago, another TTAGer mocked me for my longstanding habit of sending out mail with only the addressee on the exterior of the envelope, and not my return address. We now all know that USPS scans and retains images of all mail it handles.

      I’m not so crazy after all, am I?

      (Cue the “yes you are, you dummy” jokes…)

      • No need to use a return address, Haz, when they multi-spectral image the envelope to capture your fingerprints……

        And FFS, you don’t lick the stamp, do you? Have you not heard of the UNAbomber?

        • I use self-adhesive stamps and envelopes. Worried about prints? keep a box of surgical gloves around, I use them when I clean my guns and for loading magazines.

  6. brandon brought full on fascism to the US. We’ve had the show trials for protestors leading to being dumped in the camps. He’s now attempting to put his political enemies through the same grinder.

    It won’t be long now.

  7. I had no idea that the government would spy on anyone in a public place.

    btw
    What all those cameras on poles and attached to buildings for???

    • same thing the ones on the traffic signal lamps are for.

      And the ones on the highway lamp posts, way up hign, And in the tunnels, too.

      Just because they’re after me does not mean I’m paranoid……

  8. Why are all these representatives of the government, called police officers, all wearing body cameras???
    And they are turned on all the time. Recording everything they see and hear, as the officer is walking through various crowds. And public protests.

      • The Liberals and the Left really do love to spy on people. I believe there are some Libertarians who like to spy on people too. I remember it was the conservatives who were very much against forcing the police to have cameras.

        Now it seems the Libertarians Liberals and the Left really do love government cameras. And the police it seems will not need to have a warrant.
        There seems to be a whole lot of the three L’s who love the world of “1984”.

        “San Francisco passes legislation allowing police access to private surveillance cameras”

        https://www.theblaze.com/news/san-francisco-legislation-police-surveillance

        • San Francisco passes legislation allowing police access to private surveillance cameras”

          They NEED a law for THAT? When there was a rash of car break-ins in my neighborhood the detective came to me asking to look at footage from my cameras, I gladly gave her a copy from my street facing camera that actually helped identify two individuals. I have eight motion activated SECURITY cameras that watch my property 24/7 and recordings are held for seven days on a dedicated hard drive.

        • to MADDMAXX
          I have no faith in the Left wing [email protected] white communists, who run San Francisco, to prosecute the mostly black criminals in the city. Their soft bigotry of low expectations will not allow them to hold the mostly black criminals accountable. That will be the same for the white drug addicts who steal as well.

          SF was not going after criminals 25 years ago. Back when Chesa Boudin, the now recalled DA was a teenager.

          I’m glad you help the cops to catch criminals. The law abiding should help the cops. When the cops are in the right.

          But SF is not interested in putting criminals in jail. But they do want to spy on people.

        • “They NEED a law for THAT?”
          Long ago SF banned the police from using video from property owners, WHO VOLUNTEERED, their security video to help catch criminals.
          Meanwhile the rest of the normal sane world, good people are working together to catch criminals.

        • Lol all police interactions with the public should be recorded and readily available. There is far too much abuse it’s not anything to do with spying. The police have proven time and time again they cannot be trusted. But your are a Statist so you figure the ends justify the means. Who cares about justice, they deserved it right?

        • to TheBSonTTAG

          I will always hold the tryants accountable. No matter who they are.

          The sexually liberated support for civil rights is questionable??? They have a very poor history of supporting civil rights. But they do support the welfare industrial complex. Replacing the father with a welfare check and replacing the father’s guns with the guns of a big city police department.

          California State Senate President Tom Ammiano is a perfect example of a white [email protected] fascist who supports the Mulford Act. And here is another example of their support for tyranny.

          “Toronto Comedian Fined $15,000 For Insulting Lesbian In Audience” video 16 min long

  9. Just some questions to ponder on (for the goons employed by the 3-letter+ agencies) – is there anything that the government touches that it does not make worse? Why is it that every animal species has their best, strongest, smartest individuals as their leaders, yet humans elect, or otherwise submit to the weakest, dumbest, most corrupt representatives of our species?

    • Our strongest and smartest (and most unscrupulous) realized that they could protect themselves from competitors by setting up the weak, dumb, and corrupt as a front to take all the heat, while they exercise the real power safely behind the scenes.

  10. Make no mistake, even the yogi bear rangers at Yosemite and similar are fully sworn federal law enforcement officers with broad authority and arrest powers.

    BLM torched a post office in Minneapolis; wonder if the feds spied on them afterwards, you know, just in case…

  11. FedEx is up some shenanigans too. I kicked a delivery driver off my property yesterday for demanding to photograph my drivers license in order to complete a delivery of plumbing parts. Driver stated it was required by shipper. I have contacted the shipper who say they did not do any such thing.

  12. how the hell does that — in any way — involve the United States Postal Service?

    What other (non?) govt agency can put its eyes on EVERY address in the United States on a daily basis with access to every piece of communication in and out of those addresses? What better domestic spy agency, who pays attention to that mail carrier in the neighborhood every day?

      • ISP’S can’t see how many cars are in your driveway, how many packages are on your front porch, whether or not you’ve mowed your lawn, how many times a year you are gone for two days or more, how many dogs you have, types of security, stuff that might be of interest to law enforcement agencies. All an ISP knows is that you are online and the general area where you might be, monitoring social media might give someone cause to look deeper at you but they still need eyes on to formulate a plan of attack.

  13. T Tag just verified what I have been saying for a long, long time. And that is that the Far Right Fantasy of another revolution to install Trump as dictator for life is about as far fetched as Trump ever being re-elected to even be president of the Boy Scouts.

    With 21st Century electronic surveillance there is nothing the Government does not know about you. If you think the government needs gun registration to restrict or outlaw any type of weapon, again you live in a fantasy world. They do not need registration at all because they already know everything about you.

    Even President Jimmy Carter revealed that he knew the Government had tapped his Private Presidential Phone and that there was nothing he could do about it. When the President of the U.S. is helpless against the spies of the U.S. Government what chance do you think Jethro Bodine or Buck Kid has? Answer: Zero.

    • Far Right Fantasy of another revolution to install Trump as dictator for life is about as far fetched as Trump ever being re-elected

      Where DO you come up with this shit? You are NOT bright enough to come up with it on your own and certainly NOT ONE of the 75 million “REAL/ACTUAL/LIVING” people who voted for Trump in 20 wants him to be “POTUS” for life they (like the protesters on Jan 6) only want a FAIR election. Those assholes stole the last one, but you can bet your dumb ass it won’t happen again. I know it must be a super-secret Soros talking point, you enjoy kissing that wrinkled old ass, does he smile that evil grin when he’s patting you on top of your head? Does he know what a loser idiot you really are? Of course he does you’re carrying his kommie water for him.
      Trump will be reelected IF he runs as it will be a rematch between him and the Hildabeast and she is less popular than Monkeypox.

        • It might be against Gavin Newsom.

          The day that the people of this country elect an openly Bi-sexual man to the Whitehouse is still a way off, Hidabeast has fired up the “Clinton Global Money Laundering Initiative” only reason for that is because she’s expecting a shitload of foreign donations when she announces and Hairgel won’t bump heads with her, besides I think he’s saving himself for DeSantis. Suns out no rain in sight for the first time in three weeks, I can hear the Harley callin.

      • Mad Man Maxx

        Every recount done with the Republican’s re-counting every vote proved that there was no fraud in the last Presidential Election.

        You cannot show us the proof that there was any fraud because there was none and never was any.

        • You cannot show us the proof that there was any fraud because there was none and never was any.

          There is plenty of proof, but the courts were either too biased or too chicken shit to take it on. Not one piece of evidence was ever seen in an actual court. You know the way they did that crap in Georgia was wrong, Detroit, Arizona, Pennsylvania If you honestly believe that after TRUMP got more votes than ANY incumbent ever in the history of American elections and STILL lost to Braindead Biden by Ten million votes then you need to turn in your voter card because you are too fucking stupid to make those kinds of decisions… Hmmmmm “MAD MAN MAXX” I like that…

        • bullshit. many states have already found MASSIVE voter fraud.You should read the news more. But MSM keeps it off the airwaves.
          If you love Biden, Dems and Commies so damn much why don’t you move to China you asshat

    • I got it, you got the “PROGRESSIVE GOALS” sheet and item number ONE is “overthrow the current Republic and install a dictatorship” and your weak mind is attempting to project that shit on to anyone who would disagree with that goal.

      • to Jethero

        Look genius boy we were discussing future restrictions or bans and how the government would not need registration to do it or accomplish it. I guess this is way over your head.

        • Your lack of education is showing. But I’m not going to educate you by pointing out how so far off the mark you are.

          Seriously. You are so far out of your league its amazing you know what day of the week it is.

  14. The internet is a two-way street. If you can see them then they can see you. it’s just that simple.

    Now, With articles like this…let’s talk about all those outside websites that TTAG is coded for. Even as you read this article, there are likely a dozen OTHER websites connecting to your device/machine. TTAG would have you believe it’s needed for their ability to monitor their own site. That’s what everyone else says too. AutoZone tells you they will never sell your information to anyone. They just hire someone that does it for them. Google-analytics is part of this. If you want to have the spying stopped then you MUST make the decision to NOT use these things. If you accept it then why complain?

    There is NOTHING about the internet that is private. There never has been. Your email is not private. just ask Hillary Clinton. If she were actually the smartest person in the room like the media likes to claim then no one would have ever known about that server in the first place. The ‘Russia-Collusion’ craziness started with Trump making a joke about her server but everyone seems to have completely forgotten that the fact that it even existed is enough to put her under the prison. Much less all the other crap she has done.

    Posts that you leave on this website will likely stay here forever. Or atleast untill TTAG stops operating. Keep that in mind. You post something when your 25 and it could come back to you when your 60.

    • Your email is not private. just ask Hillary Clinton

      Funny you should mention her in this context, she and Bubba just fired up their “Global Slush Fund” and that can only mean one thing, they are getting ready to launder those fat foreign donations for her run in 24…

  15. This is nothing. For decades the postal service has imaged the address portions of every piece of mail it delivers. It now offers the public a service where one can see a preview of mail imminently about to be delivered to them from these images, but the imaging of all mail through the system and archiving of that data long predates this service. The surveillance uses of the imaging data are limited only by the imagination and creativity of the person/agency doing the surveillance.

    • I’ve been getting that for a couple of years, more problematic is their surveillance of the internet looking for 2020 “election deniers”… While everyone complains about 170,000 IRS agents NO ONE is concerned about the 644,000 employees of the USPS walking the streets EVERYDAY.

  16. Mail Man
    Stay away from my door
    Too many bill’s ,dont need no more
    Dont know what I’m going to do
    But to save my soul I’m going to find me a hole to hide in.

  17. @MADDMAXX
    “I use self-adhesive stamps and envelopes. Worried about prints? keep a box of surgical gloves around, I use them when I clean my guns and for loading magazines.”

    mmmmmm, I’m telling Mom.

  18. “Need a “SPECIAL” long distance number to reach mine.”

    Nah, the dead know nothing. But, I’ll find a mom somewhere, and tell her.

  19. USPS may want to turn their spy ring inspectors internally…have they forgotten the old term “Going Postal”?? They’ve had plenty of their own people lose it, many, many times before, in the past.

  20. I’ve just always assumed that if the government is involved in any way, shape or form, that it’s being monitored, since before the (un)Patriot Act. So this isn’t a surprise.

  21. FWIW, Va. Gov. “Black Face” Northam was not even at the Va. Gov. mansion the day of the photo in the article. He got scared and came to NC to hide out. True story.
    I figure he and Rogue Roy Cooper were planning some anti gun democrat BS.

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