Few Americans are aware that the same organization that delivers their mail also runs a robust surveillance operation rooted in an agency that dates back to the 18th century. And iCOP’s involvement raises questions about how broad the mandate of the Postal Service’s policing arm has grown from its stated mission of keeping mail deliverers safe.
The documents also point to potential gaps in the Jan. 6 select committee’s investigation by revealing concerns about a company it is not known to be scrutinizing. And those documents point to a new challenge for law enforcement in the post-Jan. 6 era: how to track extremist organizing across a host of low-profile platforms.
Two more previously unpublished government documents reviewed by POLITICO — one of which was reported on by ABC News — reveal more about the increasingly complex work of tracking extremism, and the concerns those efforts generate among civil liberties advocates. Property of the People, a watchdog group focused on national security, obtained the documents through open records requests as part of its investigation of the Jan. 6 attack. The group has also obtained records showing that hundreds of law enforcement officers planned ahead in case Jan. 6 became a mass casualty event, and that an FBI bomb analyst warned her coworkers that #StopTheSteal could turn violent.
Both iCOP bulletins are dated Jan. 11. They circulated through law enforcement circles, including to intelligence-sharing hubs called fusion centers that connect federal agencies with their state and local partners. One of the reports highlights tweets from two users about Jan. 6.
The second iCOP bulletin is titled “Nationwide coordination of Militia Groups and Threat to Nancy Pelosi.” It homed in on a website called givemebass.com and said a post “directly associated to the site founder [sic]” threatened House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The bulletin included an image saying “DEMAND PELOSI BE EXECUTED SHE TRIED TO COME BETWEEN OUR POTUS THE NUCLEAR CODES [sic].”
Chip Gibbons, the policy director of Defending Rights & Dissent, said the document points to the growing overlap between intelligence-gathering and law enforcement work — especially since the connection between the Jan. 6 attacks and the postal service appears to be tenuous at best.
“Law enforcement-intelligence apparatuses raise serious Constitutional questions, serious questions for our democracy,” he said. “It is outside their jurisdiction as I understand it.”
“The FBI has jurisdiction over domestic terrorism, whereas the Post Office — I don’t even know how they’re involved in this,” he added.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said the agency reviews public social media posts as part of “a comprehensive security and threat analysis.”