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Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act

Opening Letters Without Warrant Struck By Signing Statement

Excerpt from HR6407, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which is effectively line-item vetoed by the Presidential signing statement. The bill signing occurred on 20 December 2006; media broke the story of the signing statement on 04 January 2007.

I've also included an excerpt from Title 39 of the Federal Code, which deals with mail classification. The language is identical.
Current Law HR 6407
PL 109-435
Bush Signing Statement
Title 39
Part IV, Ch 36
SUBCHAPTER II, Section 3623

(d) The Postal Service shall maintain one or more classes of mail for the transmission of letters sealed against inspection. The rate for each such class shall be uniform throughout the United States, its territories, and possessions. One such class shall provide for the most expeditious handling and transportation afforded mail matter by the Postal Service. No letter of such a class of domestic origin shall be opened except under authority of a search warrant authorized by law, or by an officer or employee of the Postal Service for the sole purpose of determining an address at which the letter can be delivered, or pursuant to the authorization of the addressee.

citation
The information in the published US Code is a year or two old, having been subjected to extensive review and codification edits. It is not supposed to directly represent the news from Congress. There are other publications for the latest laws.

The most recent edit of Title 39 of the US Code was released by the Law Revision Counsel (LRC) of the U.S. House of Representative on 2006-11-08

... and most recently processed by the Legal Information Institute on Thu Nov 9 04:57:05 2006
TITLE X--MISCELLANEOUS
SEC. 1010. TECHNICAL AND CONFORMING AMENDMENTS

(c) The Postal Service shall maintain one or more classes of mail for the transmission of letters sealed against inspection. The rate for each such class shall be uniform throughout the United States, its territories, and possessions. One such class shall provide for the most expeditious handling and transportation afforded mail matter by the Postal Service. No letter of such a class of domestic origin shall be opened except under authority of a search warrant authorized by law, or by an officer or employee of the Postal Service for the sole purpose of determining an address at which the letter can be delivered, or pursuant to the authorization of the addressee.

Introduced 07 December 2006; passed House on 8 December; passed Senate on 9 December.
Prior bill versions: HR 22 (introduced 4 January 2005) and S 666 (introduced 17 March 2005)
The executive branch shall construe subsection 404(c) of title 39, as enacted by subsection 1010(e) of the Act, which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection, in a manner consistent, to the maximum extent permissible, with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances, such as to protect human life and safety against hazardous materials, and the need for physical searches specifically authorized by law for foreign intelligence collection.

Signed 20 December 2006
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