Surveillance

USPS Photographs All Mail

Not even snail mail is safe from government surveillance. It turns out the United States Postal Service photographs the outside of every piece of paper mail processed in the U.S. and provides the information to law enforcement. The system, called the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, was created after the anthrax attacks in 2001, and the FBI cited it last month in its investigation into ricin-laced letters. When law-enforcement agencies want information about who has been sending mail to whom, they submit a request directly to the Postal Service without judicial review. Last year a Maricopa County supervisor won a lawsuit against the aggressively anti-immigrant Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio after he used the program to track her mail.