“Big Brother is Watching You.” – George Orwell, 1984
A March 16 government bulletin that was obtained by Yahoo News reveals that the USPS’s law enforcement wing has been tracking American citizens’ social media posts and activities, and they gather data on a whole range of topics from inflammatory posts and planned protests. It goes on to share their data across federal departments and agencies as part of a program called the Internet Covert Operations Program, or iCOP. Isn’t that a cute name?
The document marked “law enforcement sensitive,” noted an analysis of planned activity for March 20, and was delivered through Homeland Security’s Fusion Centers, which are “state-owned and operated centers that serve as focal points in states and major urban areas for the receipt, analysis, gathering and sharing of threat-related information between State, Local, Tribal and Territorial (SLTT), federal and private sector partners.”
“Analysts with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically on March 20, 2021,” the bulletin said. “Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts.”
In the report it says that iCOP’s intel admitted that nothing pointed to the alleged threats as actually being legitimate:
A number of groups were expected to gather in cities around the globe on March 20 as part of a World Wide Rally for Freedom and Democracy, to protest everything from lockdown measures to 5G. “Parler users have commented about their intent to use the rallies to engage in violence. Image 3 on the right is a screenshot from Parler indicating two users discussing the event as an opportunity to engage in a ‘fight’ and to ‘do serious damage,'” says the bulletin.
“No intelligence is available to suggest the legitimacy of these threats,” it adds.
The bulletin includes screenshots of posts about the protests from Facebook, Parler, Telegram and other social media sites. Individuals mentioned by name include one alleged Proud Boy and several others whose identifying details were included but whose posts did not appear to contain anything threatening.
“iCOP analysts are currently monitoring these social media channels for any potential threats stemming from the scheduled protests and will disseminate intelligence updates as needed,” the bulletin says.
The outlet spoke with civil liberties experts who said they are concerned about both the surveillance and why the USPS would be tasked with such an undertaking. It’s just as strange as when President Barack Obama got NASA to do a Muslim outreach program.
“It’s a mystery,” said Geoffrey Stone, a University of Chicago law professor who reviewed the NSA’s bulk data collection during the Obama years following the Edward Snowden leaks.
“I don’t understand why the government would go to the Postal Service for examining the internet for security issues.
“I just don’t think the Postal Service has the degree of sophistication that you would want if you were dealing with national security issues of this sort,” he continued.
“That part is puzzling,” Stone said. “There are so many other federal agencies that could do this, I don’t understand why the post office would be doing it. There is no need for the post office to do it — you’ve got FBI, Homeland Security and so on, so I don’t know why the post office is doing this.”
I think it’s pretty simple. They picked the Post Office because who in their right mind would ever suspect them? It’s like when Obama got caught using the US Air Force to design a software package that allowed him to create fake social media bot accounts so that they could make it appear that millions of Americans supported Obama’s programs.
Rachel Levinson-Waldman, who serves as deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s liberty and national security program, brought up some interesting points in why the program “seems a little bizarre.”
“Based on the very minimal information that’s available online, it appears that [iCOP] is meant to root out misuse of the postal system by online actors, which doesn’t seem to encompass what’s going on here,” she said. “It’s not at all clear why their mandate would include monitoring of social media that’s unrelated to use of the postal system.”
The government knows spying on Americans is still illegal, so they hid it in plain sight.
Levinson-Waldman also pointed out the constitutionality problem of the program.
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“If the individuals they’re monitoring are carrying out or planning criminal activity, that should be the purview of the FBI,” Levinson-Waldman said. “If they’re simply engaging in lawfully protected speech, even if it’s odious or objectionable, then monitoring them on that basis raises serious constitutional concerns.”
Rich is a conservative syndicated opinion writer and owner of Maga-Chat.com. He writes about politics, culture, liberty, and faith.
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