Archive for Monday, November 5, 2012

Retired KU history professor mystified after federal government opens his mail — again

November 5, 2012

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Grant Goodman says he has no idea why the federal government keeps nosing around in his mail.

Grant Goodman, 88, a retired Kansas University professor of history, shows the Lawrence Journal-World a letter he received Saturday. He said he has no idea why the government chose to open it.

Grant Goodman, 88, a retired Kansas University professor of history, shows the Lawrence Journal-World a letter he received Saturday. He said he has no idea why the government chose to open it.

Grant Goodman, 88, a Kansas University professor emeritus of history, does not know why this letter from a friend in the Philippines was searched by Custom and Border Protection authorities. The official green tape is marked 10-27-12.

Grant Goodman, 88, a Kansas University professor emeritus of history, does not know why this letter from a friend in the Philippines was searched by Custom and Border Protection authorities. The official green tape is marked 10-27-12.

The retired Kansas University professor on Saturday showed the Journal-World a recent letter he had received from a friend in the Philippines. It apparently had been opened, then re-closed with green tape bearing the seal of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and a message that it had been opened by Customs and Border Protection.

The letter, the tape, and the circumstances all appear exactly the same as when it happened for the first time seven years ago. The only difference was a calendar date written on the tape: October 27, 2012.

“It’s eerie, because this is practically the same thing again,” Goodman, 88, a KU professor emeritus of history, said. “It makes you very uneasy.”

The letter is from the same person, too: a former university colleague . Apart from a handwritten letter, the envelope contained nothing more than a few Filipino newspaper clippings. Nothing, Goodman said, that he could imagine would be of interest to Homeland Security authorities. He said the letter was similar to others he receives each month.

The U.S. government has been concerned with Muslim insurgents in the Philippines, but Goodman said his correspondent — a devoutly Catholic Filipino history professor in her 80s — was an unlikely suspect to be connected to such causes. Goodman declined to reveal her name, saying he feared stirring up trouble for her.

In 2005, the story drew enough national media attention that Gov. Sam Brownback – then a Kansas senator – spoke up to affirm the legality of the federal government’s search of international mail. Indeed, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website clearly says that The Postal Service sends all mail arriving from abroad to the CBP for examination.

Goodman said he came forward to inform the public that these mail searches are still happening and to find out if others have had the same experience. He said the question that intrigues him most is, “Why this letter?”

“If there is some overriding security concern, please tell us,” he said.

A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection said then that authorities would not discuss the details of Goodman’s case or the criteria for opening letters.

As it happens, Goodman is in a unique position to understand the invasion of privacy implied by opening letters. He became familiar with it in World War II, as a U.S. Army lieutenant required to censor the mail of men under his command.

“That’s an awful experience,” he said. “And I hope the people at Customs and Border Protection feel the same way.”

Comments

2 years, 8 months ago

"And I hope the people at Customs and Border Protection feel the same way."

I'm pretty sure they feel just as bad as the TSA does nosing through your luggage.

gccs14r 2 years, 8 months ago

Everything inbound goes through CBP? That explains why my wife can send something to her mother in Germany and it gets there in less than a week, but her mother sends something here and it takes two weeks and ends up broken.

kernal 2 years, 8 months ago

Snoops and spooks. Everyone feel secure, yet?

Tomato 2 years, 8 months ago

I regularly have packages opened by US Customs. Mostly, they're from my mom in Canada. Nothing suspicious. It's just part of border security.

George_Braziller 2 years, 8 months ago

There must be some "profile" he fits. I must fit one as well. Even before airport security changed after 9/11 I've always been the one pulled out of line for a complete luggage search and body pat down.

When I fly I always have anyone I'm traveling with go through security first because there's an 85% chance I'm the one who will get special attention. I've never been able to figure out why they're so interested in me.

blindrabbit 2 years, 8 months ago

Should not come as a surprise, the results of The Patriot Act foisted on the American populace by a run-amok (Senator Joe McCarthy like) US Attorney General John Ashcroft and "My Pet Goat" reader Dubya the 43rd. They never met a NSA, CIA, FBI, DHS agent that they did not like, regarless of the intrusion it causes the innocent populace.

Blessed4x 2 years, 8 months ago

...and continued under Barry O. Funny how you left that part out.

Currahee 2 years, 8 months ago

It was approved in the Senate with 1 nay vote and in the House with 66 nay votes. It was a bipartisan approval no matter how much you want to skew it.

RoeDapple 2 years, 8 months ago

Octogenarian devout Catholic Filipino retired history professors. Who would have ever suspected they were such a threat.

gccs14r 2 years, 8 months ago

Intellectuals are always a threat to government.

workinghard 2 years, 8 months ago

Not getting into the whole politics argument, but I would like to point out his first letter was opened seven years ago, BEFORE Obama was president. You cannot blame him for everything. Some things, yes, but not everything.

somedude20 2 years, 8 months ago

Thought this would be very fitting fou you!

FlintlockRifle 2 years, 8 months ago

Like ""o""" always says, it's Bushs fault

Mike Ford 2 years, 8 months ago

don't worry...none of these simpletons will ever own voting for Bush anyway.... it's part of their "it's not my fault amnesia".......to them...2005 was a blur.... reality is a blur.....

Bobo Fleming 2 years, 8 months ago

OK look. I took Asian History from Goodman, He was very dangerous to my GPA. Even then I knew that after being the 3rd shooter on the grassy knoll in Dallas he was conspiring to form Al Quada and hit the Trade center back in 66 befote they even thought about buiding it. Thats just how dangerous Goodman is.I also know that Grant was an agent for Oklahoma State when they tried to get Self and is personally responspble for KU's lousy football team because he or his agents threaten every quality player thats thinking about going here. Id say more but Grants bugging my phone and my internet is about to go.

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