Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Security State Fan Michele Catano, Quinoa, And Pressure Cookers

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 3, 2013

Roy Edroso sums it up rather neatly:

…What Catalano described as “six agents from the joint terrorism task force” paid her husband a call: “three black SUVs in front of our house; two at the curb in front and one pulled up behind my husband’s Jeep in the driveway, as if to block him from leaving. Six gentleman in casual clothes emerged from the vehicles and spread out as they walked toward the house…” Panic in Suffolk County! “All I know is if I’m going to buy a pressure cooker in the near future, I’m not doing it online. I’m scared. And not of the right things.”

She even got this tale of woe in the Guardian. The usual suspects cried havoc: “A woman on Long Island says that her family was visited by authorities yesterday because of their Internet search history!” flashed National Review; “Yes, the federal government knows what you search for on Google,” hand-wrung Reason.

But I knew her work, and waited.

Eventually, from TechCrunch:

Catalano asserts that the visit was likely prompted by her husband searching for the term “backpacks” in close conjunction with her searching for the term “pressure cookers” and her son reading the news. Or something. 

Turns out the visit was prompted by the searches, but not in the way most speculation asserted – by a law enforcement-initiated, NSA-enabled dragnet of the couple’s web history. It turns out either Catalano or her husband were conducting these searches from a work computer. And that employer, “a Bay Shore based computer company,” called the police on their former employee…

Actually TechCrunch is being kind (or something) — the Suffolk County Police bulletin they worked from described his search terms as “pressure cooker bombs” and “backpacks.” Now, I don’t approve employers flipping out over stuff like that, even if their subject is married to an obvious nutcake like Catalano. But it’s a far cry from the Federales doing a Google-enabled home-invasion, and it’s a bit rich to hear such accusations coming from someone who once wrote, “It makes me angry to see how many people react with glee when something goes wrong with Homeland Security. These people who are wishing and hoping for Bush to fail are, in essence, wishing and hoping for another terrorist attack. Sick.”

This would be a useful thing to remember the next time you hear wingnuts working their new “libertarian populism” schtick and denouncing the national security state that 10 years ago they all huddled against for electoral warmth. Or whenever you read anything by Andrew Sullivan.

The Guardian has more:

On Thursday, the man’s wife, Michele Catalano, speculated in a blog post that the visit had been caused by her search for a new pressure cooker, her husband’s quest for a backpack, and her son’s interest in the Boston marathon bombing.

Late on Thursday, Suffolk County police said its investigation was in fact prompted by a tipoff, and not covert monitoring. “Suffolk County criminal intelligence detectives received a tip from a Bay Shore based computer company regarding suspicious computer searches conducted by a recently released employee,” Suffolk County said in a statement.

“The former employee’s computer searches took place on this employee’s workplace computer. On that computer, the employee searched the terms ‘pressure cooker bombs’ and ‘backpacks’.”

So in other words Catano’s husband’s former bosses may have been worried that he, who they had let go not long before, was either considering some explosive revenge against his former company and was inspired by the Boston bombings — or, if the searches happened before the bombings, might have feared that he was involved somehow.

That’s a lot different from The-FBI-invaded-my-home-because-I-innocently-Googled-pressure-cookers.

Oh, and the officers had “guns in their waistbands”? Really?

The computer company’s police report prompted a visit to Catalano’s home by “six gentleman in casual clothes” who “all had guns in their waistbands”, as she described the agents.

Belly bands, maybe. Waistbands, I seriously doubt. Do an internet search of “cops guns waistbands” and all will be made clear.

One Response to “Security State Fan Michele Catano, Quinoa, And Pressure Cookers”

  1. Charles II said

    But it was a good story.

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