Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Uncle Sam

Reuters is reporting that the US Government has been opening up mail from abroad. I wonder if the foreign letters I have been receiving have raised some eyebrows. I gotta admit it does seem odd for a guy from Brooklyn to be receiving all this correspondece from foreign heads of state.

Here's the article:

U.S. can open private mail in terrorism fight
Mon Jan 9, 2006 10:38 PM GMT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials can open personal mail arriving from abroad as part of the fight against terrorism, and do so when they deem it necessary to protect the country, a Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman said on Monday.

News of the little-known practise follows revelations that the government approved eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without judicial oversight after the September 11 attacks, which sparked concern from civil liberties advocates and some lawmakers who called for congressional hearings.

"Customs and Border Protection is charged with making sure that terrorists and terrorists' weapons don't enter the country," said Suzanne Trevino, a spokeswoman for the customs agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

"One of our areas of responsibility is to inspect international mail coming into our country," she said. "We respect privacy and always keep that at the forefront, but at the same time we need to make sure we do our job in keeping U.S. citizens safe."

Customs and Border Protection's web site notes that "all mail originating outside United States Customs territory that is to be delivered inside U.S. Customs territory is subject to Customs examination."

Grant Goodman, an 81-year-old retired University of Kansas history professor, drew attention to the policy after a letter he received from a colleague in the Philippines was opened and resealed by Customs and Border Protection, and only then sent on to him.

He said he was shocked and amazed that the letter -- which he received last month from another retired history professor with whom he has corresponded for 50 years -- had been screened.

"It was a big surprise," Goodman told Reuters. "The public should know that this is being done. Nobody whom I know had any idea that this was going on. And as far as I know, it's never been announced. It's never been revealed that this is being done."

Trevino said she could not comment specifically on Goodman's case because she had not seen the letter and was not sure if it had been examined as he said. She did not say how often officials open mail for security reasons.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a non-American reading this, can you comprehend how paranoid this makes the US appear? Has this story seen the light of day in the American media yet, or has it been quietly "killed off" in the interests of "national security"?

I find it very sad that such a once great nation has been lowered to such levels.

Did you write to your own President? Has he responded yet, or is he too busy planning the next war?

5:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In repsonse to the previous post,
I wonder what the poster would say if he(she?) knew that all inbound mail from the military was also opened and censored? This is true. I cannot say if President Bush has done this, but F.D.R did during WWII.
I wonder what sort of demise would befall a great nation that can approve of such atrocities.(tongue firmly in cheek here)
People seem unable to get past the current politics and get down to doing what is neccessary to protect the nation.
I wonder how many other nations have done this as a matter of security during wartime. And how many nations do it as a matter of routine?

4:20 PM  

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