Bookstore owner was victim of US snail mail surveillance

The New York Times has a story out today on another kind of surveillance the government sometimes uses to snoop on people who may or may not have done anything wrong: postal mail. Leslie James Pickering, an activist who owns the “Burning Books” independent bookstore in Buffalo, N.Y., was targeted by a tracking program run… READ THE REST

When I was being patted down after being pornoscanned a couple years ago for wearing a lab coat covered in wires in to an airport, I remember saying sarcastically to my son (who was also being patted down after being pornoscanned), “We live in the land of the free.” The nice TSA lady earnestly said, “Not any more.” Then she handed our eight LiPo battery bombs back to us and wished us a safe trip.

You may think that I’ve responded to the wrong post, but no. The point is that all school children in the USA are taught to think that this is the land of the free. I’m not so sure about that any longer.

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The summary here underplays the real shocking news in the NYT story – the individual ‘mail cover’ stuff has been going on forever but the news that the US postal service is digitally imaging the front and back of every piece of domestic mail is new (at least to me) and very darn shocking.


Not too terribly surprising. Mail sorting facilities use digital imaging to read addresses and automatically route. The following Video is specific to Canada, but isn’t too far off what happens here in the USofA

So he was the press officer for the Earth Liberation Front. I would be very surprised if the state did not look at his mail and bug his phone. He was acting in the grand tradition of direct action and passive resistance, where you put yourself in the spotlight and take the consequences. The state is simply playing its role.

I wonder whether the inclusion of the note in his mail was actually accidental. Could just as easily be an intimidation tactic.

Interesting that NYT has this article now. Artvoice and The Buffalo News reported this story over 6 months ago. But back then no one was paying attention.

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The Earth Liberation Front was responsible for a bombing at Michigan State University in the 90s among many acts of burning people out of their homes and businesses. An altogether rather sick group of individuals.

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Clearly that justifies tracking anyone-anywhere-forever, who has ever expressed support for dissent of any kind. Oh yeah, and everyone else as well.

Government laptop found with four billion images of Pottery Barn catalog on hard drive. Film at 11.

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Its a really old form of old school surveillance. They’ve always done this. I worked in Australia Post and we would sometimes (rarely) get a request from the cops to pass someone’s mail to them. And yeah we were expected to do so. Damn, do you really think nobody watched you before the internet???

If the people sending him stuff were up to no good, wouldn’t they simply use a fake return address?

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