Inside The Postal Mail Cover


A mail cover. What is it? How does it work?

A postal mail cover is where a law enforcement agency makes arrangements with 
the Postal Inspectors to obtain a copy of the addressee, sender, return 
address, place & date of postmark and class of mail for all mail being 
delivered to a given address.

No mail is opened in a mail cover program. Therefore, the government doesn't 
consider the Fourth Amendment Constitutional limitations on search and 
seizure to apply.

A big concern, though is the delay of mail. Instructions to the postal 
employees preparing the Form 2009 reports stress that mail cannot be delayed. 
The postmaster is also required to certify that the mail recorded on the Form 
2009 was not delayed.

The post office, is concerned about privacy in mail covers. Privacy about 
what they are doing. The Form 2009s have to be returned to the postal 
inspectors doubled enveloped in opaque envelopes, with the inner envelope 
marked ``limited official use.''

The postal inspectors then forward the forms to the requesting law 
enforcement agency. However, it is pointed out that the forms remain the 
property of the postal inspectors and that it is preferred that the 
information is not used in any court proceedings, ie: the post office wishes 
it to remain private that they are invading the public's privacy with mail 

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