NEW YORK - A Bush administration proposal would grant the FBI broad authority to track the mail of people in terrorism investigations.
...to be considered next week in a closed-door Senate Intelligence Committee meeting, would allow the FBI to direct postal officials to turn in names,
addresses and other material on the outside of letters sent to or from people connected to foreign intelligence investigations.
But the Postal Service is raising privacy concerns about the plan to carry out such operations, called mail covers, the Times said.
According to a draft of the bill obtained by the Times, the plan would effectively eliminate postal inspectors’ discretion in deciding when mail
covers are needed, giving sole authority to the FBI, if it decides that the material is “relevant to an authorized investigation to obtain foreign
The proposal would not allow the FBI to open mail or review its contents, however. According to the officials who spoke to the Times, that
would require a search warrant. The proposal is part of a larger package that strengthens the FBI’s authority to demand business records in
intelligence gathering without judicial or grand jury approval, the Times said.
Zoe Strickland, chief privacy officer for the Postal Service says it
”removes discretion from the Postal Inspection Service as to how the
mail covers are implemented,” and that she worries ”quite a bit about the balance being struck here, and we’re quite mystified as to how this
got put in the legislation.”
Another development in the war on international terror/domestic freedom. This perfectly compliments the Patriot Act II measure being written up by
Senator Pat Roberts that gives the FBI new power to issue administrative subpoenas, which are not reviewed by a judge or grand jury, for quickly
obtaining records, electronic data or other evidence in terrorism investigations. Also the latest techniques in multisprectal imaging could possibly
be used to scan mail at different wavelengths of light to ascertain the contents, and if not feesible than a simple "oops" will have to suffice.