This warrantless mail metadata collection program is more than a century old and it is not limited to just foreign correspondence. It’s been used by politicians like Joe Arpaio to monitor their critics, and it goes mostly unreported — so where’s the dudebro outrage?
In a rare public accounting of its mass surveillance program, the United States Postal Service reported that it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations.
The number of requests, contained in a little-noticed 2014 audit of the surveillance program by the Postal Service’s inspector general, shows that the surveillance program is more extensive than previously disclosed and that oversight protecting Americans from potential abuses is lax.
The audit, along with interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, offers one of the first detailed looks at the scope of the program, which has played an important role in the nation’s vast surveillance effort since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
More: Report Reveals Wider Tracking of Mail in U.S.