Homeland Security opening private mail


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rick_reno
January 6, 2006, 08:42 PM
Darn right they should open mail. People shouldn't be communicating with foreigners - it's been proven they don't think right. I'm hoping they get to the point where they not only open it - but they respond too. Save me some time.
They're running a "live vote" with this story - so far it's 79% of the left wing hippie pinko fellow travelers Bush haters who don't think the government should be able to scan our mail. Don't they know - this is the "War on Terror" and not only is anything possible, it's happening.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10740935/

WASHINGTON - In the 50 years that Grant Goodman has known and corresponded with a colleague in the Philippines he never had any reason to suspect that their friendship was anything but spectacularly ordinary.

But now he believes that the relationship has somehow sparked the interest of the Department of Homeland Security and led the agency to place him under surveillance.

Last month Goodman, an 81-year-old retired University of Kansas history professor, received a letter from his friend in the Philippines that had been opened and resealed with a strip of dark green tape bearing the words “by Border Protection” and carrying the official Homeland Security seal.

“I had no idea (Homeland Security) would open personal letters,” Goodman told MSNBC.com in a phone interview. “That’s why I alerted the media. I thought it should be known publicly that this is going on,” he said. Goodman originally showed the letter to his own local newspaper, the Kansas-based Lawrence Journal-World.

“I was shocked and there was a certain degree of disbelief in the beginning,” Goodman said when he noticed the letter had been tampered with, adding that he felt his privacy had been invaded. “I think I must be under some kind of surveillance.”

Goodman is no stranger to mail snooping; as an officer during World War II he was responsible for reading all outgoing mail of the men in his command and censoring any passages that might provide clues as to his unit’s position. “But we didn’t do it as clumsily as they’ve done it, I can tell you that,” Goodman noted, with no small amount of irony in his voice. “Isn’t it funny that this doesn’t appear to be any kind of surreptitious effort here,” he said.

The letter comes from a retired Filipino history professor; Goodman declined to identify her. And although the Philippines is on the U.S. government’s radar screen as a potential spawning ground for Muslim-related terrorism, Goodman said his friend is a devout Catholic and not given to supporting such causes.

A spokesman for the Customs and Border Protection division said he couldn’t speak directly to Goodman’s case but acknowledged that the agency can, will and does open mail coming to U.S. citizens that originates from a foreign country whenever it’s deemed necessary.

“All mail originating outside the United States Customs territory that is to be delivered inside the U.S. Customs territory is subject to Customs examination,” says the CBP Web site. That includes personal correspondence. “All mail means ‘all mail,’” said John Mohan, a CBP spokesman, emphasizing the point.

“This process isn’t something we’re trying to hide,” Mohan said, noting the wording on the agency’s Web site. “We’ve had this authority since before the Department of Homeland Security was created,” Mohan said.

However, Mohan declined to outline what criteria are used to determine when a piece of personal correspondence should be opened, but said, “obviously it’s a security-related criteria.”

Mohan also declined to say how often or in what volume CBP might be opening mail. “All I can really say is that Customs and Border Protection does undertake [opening mail] when it is determined to be necessary,” he said.

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Wllm. Legrand
January 6, 2006, 09:05 PM
I'm shocked..SHOCKED, I tell you!

Why should anyone be surprised? The Amerikan people hae become conditioned to this kind of thing. I predict very little fallout over it. The zietgiest of fear, inculcated in society at all levels by the Federal government, has the acceptance of this behavior at its root.

You ain't seen nuthin' yet.

WWJD? (What would Jefferson do?) Heck, what would Robt. E Lee do?

Dang..It's depressing living during the death throes of your country.

xd9fan
January 6, 2006, 09:31 PM
dont worry Bush and the GOP will keep us children safe:barf:

spartacus2002
January 6, 2006, 09:58 PM
BMA.

Gordon Fink
January 6, 2006, 10:01 PM
Hmm … Had piece of mail from the NRA that was opened recently. It was stamped “opened by postal inspector” or something similar.

~G. Fink

Ryder
January 6, 2006, 10:11 PM
I last couple items I received in the mail from gun rights orgs were not even sealed before mailing.

Lucky
January 6, 2006, 11:37 PM
Hi, you guys have my sympathy. I think this sort of thing sort of rules out any 'Alberta should join the US' ideas...:(

Out of curiousity, if this sort of operation becomes really large, how much money would it cost? Would it be well-paid civil servants with years of experience doing it, or people paid slightly above minimum wage? Would they read it, or just scan the letter and let a computer analyse it for red flags?

Standing Wolf
January 6, 2006, 11:44 PM
I'd like to know how come the federal government has money to pay people to read mail, but no money to pay people to defend our nation's borders.

Does Jorge Bush have a plan, or is this just some sort of monumental accident?

PATH
January 7, 2006, 05:46 AM
They can read my mail any time they like. I just wish they'd send the payments in for me though!:what:

The Freeholder
January 7, 2006, 11:31 AM
<insert comment re: "but it's a good thing we don't live in a police state" here>

:fire:

The only realistic thing I can do is ask a question: At what point do we (as a population) get fed up with this sort of thing and take action? My thought is that if something isn't done soon, one of these days we're going to wake up and wonder where America went.

Preacherman
January 7, 2006, 11:40 AM
Guys, this has been legal and in operation for decades! There's nothing new about it, and it's always been in our laws that Customs can open anything coming into the USA from anywhere else. Nothing new, no great big plot to invade privacy - just the usual rules and regulations. Note that ALL countries have similar provisions in their laws, not just the USA.

Herself
January 7, 2006, 01:20 PM
And if all the other countries were forbidding their subjects the keeping and bearing of arms, would that justify it in the U.S. as well?

"Everyone else is doing it" isn't a reason. It's an excuse.

That it is a Customs matter is more like a reason, espcially if one believes governments have a right to interfere in private transactions that cross their borders. I do not. However, a narrow reading of the Constitution does provide a scrap of justification, if only to check to attempts to avoid import duties.

--Herself

Art Eatman
January 7, 2006, 02:24 PM
Dunno how long that U.S. Customs agents have been empowered to open any and all packages and letters coming into the U.S., but I'll bet it's probably more than my lifetime.

Sure, the volume is such that they can't open everything, but they have the legal authority to do so. They probably open more mail now than in the past, and I hope I shouldn't have to explain why...

Art

wally
January 7, 2006, 02:42 PM
It's hard to not have a knee-jerk reaction here.

Has there ever been an expectation of privacy or freedom from search when crossing a country's border except under diplomatic seal?

There is a difference between "intelligence" and "evidence".

I personally don't think there are any "rules" to the gathering of intelligence, and would like to think they occasionally stumble on something that might avert another 9/11. But like the effictiveness of my new elephant repellent, its hard to prove one way or the other.

OTOH I sure don't want any rules of evidence weakened or ignored to make it easier to put people in jail. Due process and the Constitution must be upheld for US Citizens. I don't see the Founding Father's intending to have the Constitution protect combatants or illeagal infiltrators.

--wally.

Dain Bramage
January 7, 2006, 02:44 PM
Crossing a national border has always been an excuse to strip people of their rights. Just like they can take my car down to the frame rails with no probable cause and no compensation when I visit British Columbia. I don't like it, but welcome to the world.

Blaming Bush is silly. I personally blame Clinton. Why? Because I like to, and he can take equal blame with every other president back to the first; with the sum total of just about zero, since congress makes our laws anyway.

But then again, watching the foaming-mouth Chimpy McBushHitler haters bite on every new MSM story is jolly good sport.

DigitalWarrior
January 7, 2006, 06:19 PM
I actually wholeheartedly and enthusiastically support this turn of events. Because the policy of search is public, the new package is coming in to the country, and they marked it as searched. If they found drugs or something, the person would go on trial. I have no issues with it.

Compare it to the NSA wiretap, where the policy was secret, they searched outgoing calls from citizens, and never notified those searched. Further if they found something it is very likely that they would seize the American citizen, and hold him without charges. Because terrorism is a new threat.

Skeptic
January 7, 2006, 06:42 PM
If I could get them to open my bills and pay them I would be walking in tall cotton. Any idea who I could call to try and get them to open my stuff and pay my bills....???? :neener:

Preacherman
January 7, 2006, 07:10 PM
Skeptic don't know government very well, do he? :D

Skeptic
January 7, 2006, 07:19 PM
Hey.... it was worth a shot wasn't it???? :D

armedandsafe
January 7, 2006, 09:28 PM
Skeptic, you have the gubm'nt idea backwards. They open your mail, read it and charge YOU for the time it takes. :neener:

Pops

carebear
January 7, 2006, 11:04 PM
They open all sorts of private things at random and on suspicion when they cross in and out of the country.

Private boxes, private conex boxes full of smaller boxes, privately owned vehicles all that came in loaded on privately owned ships.

As was said, it's called CUSTOMS.

If they didn't open them, customs duties, import and export, perhaps the only justified way for a Government to support itself would not be collected accurately. Also, plants and animals either invasive in and of themselves or carrying pestilence could also be expected to make it through the border unrestricted.

Yet another non- (at least non-new) issue.

GlenJ
January 7, 2006, 11:11 PM
Darn right they should open mail. People shouldn't be communicating with foreigners - it's been proven they don't think right. I'm hoping they get to the point where they not only open it - but they respond too. Save me some time.
They're running a "live vote" with this story - so far it's 79% of the left wing hippie pinko fellow travelers Bush haters who don't think the government should be able to scan our mail. Don't they know - this is the "War on Terror" and not only is anything possible, it's happening.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10740935/

WASHINGTON - In the 50 years that Grant Goodman has known and corresponded with a colleague in the Philippines he never had any reason to suspect that their friendship was anything but spectacularly ordinary.

But now he believes that the relationship has somehow sparked the interest of the Department of Homeland Security and led the agency to place him under surveillance.

Last month Goodman, an 81-year-old retired University of Kansas history professor, received a letter from his friend in the Philippines that had been opened and resealed with a strip of dark green tape bearing the words “by Border Protection” and carrying the official Homeland Security seal.

“I had no idea (Homeland Security) would open personal letters,” Goodman told MSNBC.com in a phone interview. “That’s why I alerted the media. I thought it should be known publicly that this is going on,” he said. Goodman originally showed the letter to his own local newspaper, the Kansas-based Lawrence Journal-World.

“I was shocked and there was a certain degree of disbelief in the beginning,” Goodman said when he noticed the letter had been tampered with, adding that he felt his privacy had been invaded. “I think I must be under some kind of surveillance.”

Goodman is no stranger to mail snooping; as an officer during World War II he was responsible for reading all outgoing mail of the men in his command and censoring any passages that might provide clues as to his unit’s position. “But we didn’t do it as clumsily as they’ve done it, I can tell you that,” Goodman noted, with no small amount of irony in his voice. “Isn’t it funny that this doesn’t appear to be any kind of surreptitious effort here,” he said.

The letter comes from a retired Filipino history professor; Goodman declined to identify her. And although the Philippines is on the U.S. government’s radar screen as a potential spawning ground for Muslim-related terrorism, Goodman said his friend is a devout Catholic and not given to supporting such causes.

A spokesman for the Customs and Border Protection division said he couldn’t speak directly to Goodman’s case but acknowledged that the agency can, will and does open mail coming to U.S. citizens that originates from a foreign country whenever it’s deemed necessary.

“All mail originating outside the United States Customs territory that is to be delivered inside the U.S. Customs territory is subject to Customs examination,” says the CBP Web site. That includes personal correspondence. “All mail means ‘all mail,’” said John Mohan, a CBP spokesman, emphasizing the point.

“This process isn’t something we’re trying to hide,” Mohan said, noting the wording on the agency’s Web site. “We’ve had this authority since before the Department of Homeland Security was created,” Mohan said.

However, Mohan declined to outline what criteria are used to determine when a piece of personal correspondence should be opened, but said, “obviously it’s a security-related criteria.”

Mohan also declined to say how often or in what volume CBP might be opening mail. “All I can really say is that Customs and Border Protection does undertake [opening mail] when it is determined to be necessary,” he said.

Bet you would be singing a different tune if a Dem were president. I guess as long as Limbaugh and Hannity approve kool-aid drinkers will follow. Anyone remember the File Gate scandal??? Rush ran with that for months.

losangeles
January 8, 2006, 01:46 AM
I've lived through this before and it's no big deal.

I worked in Saudi Arabia for over six years. Talk about government reading your mail! Those guys will open your mail and cross out any signs and images that are anti-Islamic, like pictures of female skin. I've got nothing to hide. Just make sure not to screw up my envelopes.

Can't remember when the last time I wrote or received a personal letter, though. In this Internet age, it's all about email. I'm an Internet techie myself --- create web technology and run web businesses --- and know it's easy to monitor emails and people's computers. Heck, spyware is probably on the computer of 99% of you right now, with most of it by commercial companies (and some porn sites ;) )). For some of y'all, the government is in your computer too, right now, already. :D (If you have a little collection of porno, better make sure the models are of age, okay? Because the FBI goes after not just terrorism but more than that.)

spartacus2002
January 8, 2006, 11:42 AM
I've lived through this before and it's no big deal.

I worked in Saudi Arabia for over six years. Talk about government reading your mail! Those guys will open your mail and cross out any signs and images that are anti-Islamic, like pictures of female skin. I've got nothing to hide. Just make sure not to screw up my envelopes.

Can't remember when the last time I wrote or received a personal letter, though. In this Internet age, it's all about email. I'm an Internet techie myself --- create web technology and run web businesses --- and know it's easy to monitor emails and people's computers. Heck, spyware is probably on the computer of 99% of you right now, with most of it by commercial companies (and some porn sites ;) )). For some of y'all, the government is in your computer too, right now, already. :D (If you have a little collection of porno, better make sure the models are of age, okay? Because the FBI goes after not just terrorism but more than that.)

ah, the argument that "since a fundamentalist Islamic monarchy does it, it's OK for the USA" :rolleyes:

TexasRifleman
January 8, 2006, 11:54 AM
Has there ever been an expectation of privacy or freedom from search when crossing a country's border except under diplomatic seal?



Bingo. You wanna get worked up about this one you're gonna have to get out your time machine and go back a couple hundred years to complain.

There is not a country on this planet that doesn't do exactly the same thing.

You want the borders sealed, walls built, machine gun turrets on top, but you don't think that mail should also pass through Customs?

DRZinn
January 8, 2006, 04:55 PM
The government has a right (actually an obligation) to do whatever is necessary to secure the borders. That includes people and mail. Non-issue.

caveat: I mean, of course, whatever is necessary at the borders. IOW, make sure we know who and what is coming in.
“Isn’t it funny that this doesn’t appear to be any kind of surreptitious effort here,” he said.Isn't it funny that they included a quote that is absolutely irrelevant to the story but makes the situation look more dire than it is? Would he prefer not to know that his mail has been opened?

Wllm. Legrand
January 8, 2006, 11:27 PM
The government has a right (actually an obligation) to do whatever is necessary to secure the borders. That includes people and mail. Non-issue.

caveat: I mean, of course, whatever is necessary at the borders. IOW, make sure we know who and what is coming in.
Isn't it funny that they included a quote that is absolutely irrelevant to the story but makes the situation look more dire than it is? Would he prefer not to know that his mail has been opened?

"Whatever is necessary" has been the rationale of tyrants throughout history.

Every unconstitutional law passed, every abridgement of rights, has been done because someone, somewhere, who was in the employ of the State, thought it was "necessary".

Perhaps one of these days the people might find it in their interests to say "NO!" when someone from the State cries "necessity".

DRZinn
January 9, 2006, 03:24 PM
"Whatever is necessary" has been the rationale of tyrants throughout history.Thus the caveat "at the border," thus forgoing intrusive activities within the country.

You may safely assume, when reading my posts, that none of what I say ever advocates the violation of the rights of any individual. Just mentally insert the phrase "without violating the rights of any individual" in the appropriate place, and everything will become much much clearer. :D

k_dawg
January 9, 2006, 03:47 PM
STOP THE PRESSES!

I just learned that if you board an airplane, you and your belongings may be searched! You may also be subjected to metal-detectors and x-rays!! :cuss: :cuss: :cuss:

Seriously, these people who were unaware that international packages/mailings are subject to inspection, simply are showing their ignorance.

HankB
January 9, 2006, 04:40 PM
Customs searches have been around for a long, LONG time. The sheer volume of letters precludes more than a small fraction being opened. IIRC, during early WWII, German spies in the U.K. used to transmit secrets overseas via the British Mail, as they knew there was little chance of interception.Because the policy of search is public, the new package is coming in to the country, and they marked it as searched. If they found drugs or something, the person would go on trial.Actually, I believe the person would become the target of an investigation. So far, I don't believe we're at the point that they'll put you on trial solely on the basis that "someone, somewhere" sent you something illegal . . . otherwise, think of all the unsolicited weed politicians, lawyers, - heck, any strict high school teacher - would be sent, just on the presumption that they'd be put on trial.

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