Postal Service Spied on Anti-Biden, Pro-Gun Factions: Documents

Postal Service Spied on Anti-Biden, Pro-Gun Factions: Documents

The U.S. Postal Service has been busted for spying on certain groups of Americans over their right-leaning political views and activities.

“Postal inspectors tracked the actions of gun rights activists gathering in Richmond, Virginia; people preparing to demonstrate against police in Louisville, Kentucky, after an investigation into the police shooting of Breonna Taylor; and far-right groups headed to the District of Columbia after Mr. Biden’s election,” the Washington Times reported, citing records the outlet was shown.

Patrick Eddington, a senior fellow with the CATO Institute, managed to obtain heavily redacted records that nonetheless detailed spying by postal inspectors from September 2020 through April 2021 which included covert surveillance of social media via the “Internet Covert Operations Program,” or iCOP.

The scholar said the spy program was so pervasive it reached every home and business in the country.

“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,” Eddington told the outlet.

The Times noted further:

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. 

A September 2020 bulletin from an analyst working on the social media snooping program noted that Louisville was operating under a state of emergency in anticipation of an announcement regarding the state’s investigation into Ms. Taylor’s death. Details of the analysis were redacted, as was the analyst’s name. 

Postal inspectors’ social media surveillance also determined that a “Million MAGA March” set for Nov. 14, 2020, would cause traffic delays in the District, Maryland and Virginia and noted that the event had been posted on a “conservative forum.”

According to other bulletins from postal inspectors, analysts with iCOP followed a range of social media platforms including smaller ones like Wimkin and Parler. One assessment by the USPS dated Jan. 12, 2021, said that the deplatforming of Parler probably disrupted some protests that were being coordinated for Inauguration Day, which inspectors likened to the riot at the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6.

“Multiple bulletins created by the postal inspectors include disclaimers that the reports are not intended to infringe on Americans’ constitutional rights but to provide information to law enforcement about the potential for violence and criminal activity,” the Times reported.

The USPS said in a statement: “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.”

However, the Postal Service’s inspector general said earlier this year that the spying overstepped law enforcement authority and likely did not have any basis in legality.

“We determined that certain proactive searches iCOP conducted using an open-source intelligence tool from February to April 2021 exceeded the Postal Inspection Service’s law enforcement authority,” the watchdog noted in March. “Furthermore, we could not corroborate whether other work analysts completed from October 2018 through June 2021 was legally authorized.”


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