January 06, 2006

I Prefer the Green Tape

by PG

The news that Homeland Security may open mail to U.S. citizens from overseas correspondents doesn't surprise me.

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.
Indeed, what I find strange is this part of the article:
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.
Personally, I'm more disturbed when the government is surreptitious, when Americans' privacy is invaded without their knowledge that this is occurring. If enough people are annoyed by getting green-taped letters, they can go through the democratic process and get Congress to restrain the Executive from doing it (assuming that we're not living in the World According to Yoo); if people never know that their communications have been searched, there's no way to determine as a citizenry whether we want to make that tradeoff for greater security.

January 6, 2006 06:59 PM | TrackBack
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