oppression." -- William O. Douglas
Now technology has allowed much much more than this. From the NYT (7/03/13) it appears that old fashioned mail-cover monitoring is:
... a forerunner of a vastly more expansive effort, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, in which Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images.I'll tell you how long the government saves the images -- as long as they damn well please.
I'd reckon that there isn't any instance of communication in this country, other than face to face, that is not known to the government. Of course in the cases of emails and telephone calls, not only the fact of the communication but also the contents of those communications are also known.
Bit by bit, we've built the mechanisms of a dictatorship. Not that we have one now, but should one come along, we will be defenseless before it. The real danger is that we won't necessarily see it coming. Nightfall does not come all at once.