USPS spied on pro-gun protestors

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

The United States Postal Service, or USPS, isn’t the topic of a lot of discussion here at Bearing Arms. That’s because, well, there’s generally not much reason to talk about them.

That’s especially true when you look at the shenanigans being carried out by both the FBI and the ATF. I mean, why would we spend a lot of time talking about the post office?

Well, it seems that postal inspectors are more than willing to get into anti-gun shenanigans themselves.

The U.S. Postal Service monitored protesters across the country, snooping on Americans focused on issues involving guns and President Biden’s election, according to records obtained by The Washington Times.

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.

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.

“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’s right, folks. The USPS postal inspectors are spying on people like you and me simply because of our political opinions.

Inspectors claim they were simply using public information to track potential criminal acts, but I find that very hard to believe. After all, these are protestors who are exercising their First Amendment rights to criticize the government and to try and pressure officials to do certain things.

That’s our right as Americans.

Yet the law enforcement arm of the USPS is snooping into who is doing what where for people who aren’t even suspected of committing any crime, much less one that falls within the postal inspectors’ jurisdiction.

If they had reason to believe contraband was being shipped illegally, that would be one thing, but that seems to be missing in all this.

What’s more, the USPS apparently knows this.

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.

“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 Postal Service watchdog said in a March audit. “Furthermore, we could not corroborate whether other work analysts completed from October 2018 through June 2021 was legally authorized.”

The investigation was conducted at the request of the top Democrat and Republican on the House Oversight and Reform committee.

Bipartisanship can be achieved. All you have to do is spy on everyone, apparently.

However, let’s also remember that while anti-police protests turned violent with startling regularity in 2020, that didn’t happen with pro-gun protestors. So while a case can be made that law enforcement probably should have looked into police protestors–not necessarily the USPS’s law enforcement, mind you, but someone–that isn’t the case of Second Amendment advocates.

The truth here is that the USPS postal inspectors overstepped.

As Eddington noted, they can’t deliver mail in a timely manner, but they can do this crap? I mean, the postal service is routinely complaining about a lack of money. Maybe it’s time to cut the postal inspectors’ budget if they’re going to do crap like this with it and divert those funds to the USPS’s primary mission: delivering the mail.