Yahoo News, which is a hard left partisan outfit, committed an act of journalism this week: it discovered that the United States Post Office has been running a “covert operations program” to monitor Americans’ social media posts for inflammatory information. That sounds like a bipartisan sin of officiousness that, despite the public nature of many posts, can leak into being a Fifth Amendment violation. However, when you dig more deeply into the article, you discover that the Post Office is concerned only with “right-wing” inflammatory information.
Here’s how Yahoo describes the program (emphasis mine):
The law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service has been quietly running a program that tracks and collects Americans’ social media posts, including those about planned protests, according to a document obtained by Yahoo News.
The details of the surveillance effort, known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, have not previously been made public. The work involves having analysts trawl through social media sites to look for what the document describes as “inflammatory” postings and then sharing that information across government agencies.
“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,” says the March 16 government bulletin, marked as “law enforcement sensitive” and distributed through the Department of Homeland Security’s fusion centers. “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.”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.
According to Yahoo, even left-leaning civil liberties experts have found the Post Office’s conduct disturbing. For example:
When contacted by Yahoo News, civil liberties experts expressed alarm at the post office’s surveillance program. “It’s a mystery,” said University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone, whom President Barack Obama appointed to review the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks. “I don’t understand why the government would go to the Postal Service for examining the internet for security issues.”