Innocent Couple Visited by Feds Cops After Google Searching for Backpacks and Pressure Cookers (Now With Updates!)

NSANSASee our update: The NSA Wasn't Spying on Couple Who Searched Internet for a Backpack and Pressure Cooker, But a Coworker Was

Yes, the federal government knows what you search for on Google. We know this not just because the Guardian reported it yesterday, but also because of what recently happened to Michele Catalano, a music journalist, and her husband. I'll let her explain (see updates at bottom that contradict Catalano's claim that the search was a result of her Google history): 

Most of it was innocent enough. I had researched pressure cookers. My husband was looking for a backpack. And maybe in another time those two things together would have seemed innocuous, but we are in “these times” now. 

This was weeks ago. I don’t know what took them so long to get here. Maybe they were waiting for some other devious Google search to show up but “what the hell do I do with quinoa” and “Is A-Rod suspended yet” didn’t fit into the equation so they just moved in based on those older searches.

What happened was this: At about 9:00 am, my husband, who happened to be home yesterday, was sitting in the living room with our two dogs when he heard a couple of cars pull up outside. He looked out the window and saw 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, two toward the backyard on one side, two on the other side, two toward the front door.

A million things went through my husband’s head. None of which were right. He walked outside and the men greeted him by flashing badges. He could see they all had guns holstered in their waistbands.

“Are you [name redacted]?” one asked while glancing at a clipboard. He affirmed that was indeed him, and was asked if they could come in. Sure, he said.

They asked if they could search the house, though it turned out to be just a cursory search. They walked around the living room, studied the books on the shelf (nope, no bomb making books, no Anarchist Cookbook), looked at all our pictures, glanced into our bedroom, pet our dogs. They asked if they could go in my son’s bedroom but when my husband said my son was sleeping in there, they let it be.

After 45 minutes of such nonsense, the search-engine police left. The agents reportedly told Catalano's husband "that they do this about 100 times a week. And that 99 of those visits turn out to be nothing."

Another reason to switch to DuckDuckGo

Addendum 1: In a Twitter discussion, tech policy reporter (and libertarian) Declan McCullagh suggests that the visit may not have been a result of the couple's Google history. Tweets McCullagh: "Tip from nosy neighbors is likely source, or IP datadump from http://buypressurecookers.com."

Addendum 2: After getting some pushback to her story (which she stands by) Catalano tweeted that she won't be giving any interviews to other media outlets. 

Addendum 3: The Guardian has more: "A spokesman for the FBI told to the Guardian on Thursday that its investigators were not involved in the visit, but that 'she was visited by Nassau County police department … They were working in conjunction with Suffolk County police department.'" 

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  • ||

    He let them in???

    Moron.

  • CE||

    Hey, they're the feds, not the local SWAT hit squad.

    They wore suits, not battle armor.
    Their guns were holstered, not at the low ready.
    They petted the dog, rather than shooting it on sight.

    Yeah, I'm asking for a warrant anyway.

  • Loki||

    The only problem with asking for a warrant first is that then after they went and got a warrant, they probably would have come back with:

    A SWAT team in body armor.
    With their guns drawn at the low ready.
    Shot the dog on sight.

    Not to mention probably roughed up the dude and his son, and ransacked the house probably doing several thousands of dollars worth of property damage. All for the "crime" of asserting his 4th ammendment rights.

  • Overt||

    No way, no how this was caused solely by their google searches for a pressure cooker and backpack.

    There are billions of such searches. There has to be another reason they were on the Fed's radar.

    Their sleeping-in son sounds like a teen. I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that the searches (and other activity) flagging them came from his searches.

    I'm not saying they "had it coming". Kids are gonna search for stuff and find themselves on bad sites. They should not be tracking down families just because of their surfing behaviors. But there is no way in the world that this happened just because of those two searches on google.

  • Josh M.||

    Not sure why you would trust that the feds had a real reason to visit. After all we've uncovered recently - I'm not surprised.

  • Loki||

    Read the linked article:

    Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker. Can you make a bomb with that? My husband said no, my wife uses it to make quinoa. What the hell is quinoa, they asked.

    Apparently it was over a pressure cooker.

  • Overt||

    "Not sure why you would trust that the feds had a real reason to visit. After all we've uncovered recently - I'm not surprised."

    No, the problem is that there are MILLIONS of people who conducted those searches. There aren't enough feds in the country to followup on people who have searched for pressure cookers and backpacks.

    "Apparently it was over a pressure cooker."

    I'm sure that has something to do with it. But again, there are millions of people searching for/buying pressure cookers. There was something else- either searches by their son, or email traffic discussing the boston bombings, or whatever- that led them to single these guys out.

  • ||

    Sure, he said.

    Dumbass.

  • db||

    Imagine what would have happened if he had stood on his Constitutional rights and told them to come back with a warrant.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    "Is that marijuana I smell? Yeah, it's marijuana. Kick the door in!"

  • wwhorton||

    "Hey, those dogs are alerting!"

    "...you mean my dogs?"

    "Good enough! ON THE GROUND, SCUMBAG!"

  • Rich||

    A million things went through my husband’s head. None of which were right.

    Uh, oh. Now you're *really* in trouble.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    He let them in and in turn they let any pet dogs live. However, they should have arrested him for letting his son sleep in until 9AM.

  • db||

    "Let's Move!"

  • MJGreen||

    my husband, who happened to be home yesterday, was sitting in the living room with our two dogs when he heard a couple of cars pull up outside.

    *takes deep breath*

    *continues reading*

  • Josh M.||

    Yep, first thing I thought was he should have locked those dogs in the bathroom until they left.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker. Can you make a bomb with that?

    "I don't know. Hold on, let me google that and see..."

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    How about a George Foreman Grill?

  • ||

    You can really injure your foot with one of those. BAN 'EM!

  • Hugh Akston||

    You're not supposed to use them as shoes, Kristen.

  • setTHEline||

    I like to wake up to the smell of bacon, sue me!

  • OldMexican||

    Re; OJOS de aguila,

    How about a George Foreman Grill?


    It locks in the flavor while reducing the amount of fat! Should be on the list!

  • Dweebston||

    Who are you, the Atkins police?

  • db||

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I DON'T READ OFF TOPIC COMMENTS.

  • Drake||

    See, the loss of freedom and $12 Billion we spend annually on the NSA is all worth it.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    The Search Engine Police
    They Live Inside of My Head!

  • Monkey's Uncle||

    The search engine police
    Then roust my son out of bed!

  • Brendan||

    Off to google to see which backpack will fit pressure cookers in the 40 watt range...

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    +1 Just what you see, buddy.

  • Steve G||

    Any one of these cookers is ideal for home defense.

  • Rasilio||

    Just don't search for a Phased Plasma Rifle in the 40 Megawatt range

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    I might have to looking into using that TOR thing at home.

  • R C Dean||

    Give it a spin. Unless you have a firewall issue or some other mysterious connectivity problem (which I have experienced), its kinda interesting.

  • anon||

    TOR's kind of a crap browser; it's very slow.

    Worth it if you're trying to google up hookers & blow though.

  • Marc F Cheney||

    It's not slow because of the browse. It's slow because, by design, it's bouncing your traffic all over the damn place.

  • SweatingGin||

    I haven't looked closely at all the details of when browsers send cookies to where and such, but I'd recommend having a browser set-aside just for TOR, that you never use to login to anything as you.

    Looking at the XKeyscore slides, they're probably tracking based on a lot more than just IP or username. Don't want to find out that the browser sends some identifying/unique value to google or whoever when you're using TOR, as then it's tied to you again.

  • DenverJay||

    I have to have a static IP now that I live in the 1950's (rural Oklahoma), but when I lived in Denver I loved having a Cricket internet stick that gave me a new IP address every time I plugged it in. Now-a-days, I don't practice safe search, I just assume that THEY already know I am more bark than bite and hope that I will not be rousted based on my comments, searches, etc. My Comcast connection has enough problems without my trying to use TOR or the privacy setting on Commodo Dragon, etc. Besides, if they want you, they got the super geeks working for them; as soon as you visit a "suspicious" site or do a "suspicious" search, I bet you have downloaded a cookie or something that they can use to track you anyways.

  • jasno||

    Did you miss the part where the NSA said using encryption is evidence of wrongdoing?

    Hell, the government probably runs most of the Tor exit routers anyway.

  • Killazontherun||

    I wrote the word 'Kinks' on a post a few days ago. Later that night, Youtube has a few Kink album suggestions on the side margin though I have never searched Youtube for the Kinks. Coincidence? That sort of thing happens so often it is pretty fucking unnerving.

  • Pro Libertate||

    This is so absurd.

  • ||

    I call shenanigans.

    Given the commentariat on this site someone here shoulda gotten a visit from the Google police by now.

  • anon||

    They're just waiting to put us all in the internment camp at the same time.

    I propose we form a coalition against STEVE SMITH and Warty before it comes to that.

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    Too late for the coalition...we can only hope not to be either one's cell"mate".

  • thom||

    They'll probably just shoot you.

    Nothing sounds more painful to administer than an internment camp filled with libertarian website commenters.

  • ||

    Nothing sounds more painful to administer than an internment camp filled with libertarian website commenters.

    Comment o' the day!

  • anon||

    Nothing sounds more painful to administer than an internment camp filled with libertarian website commenters.

    Would make for a good TV show though.

  • SweatingGin||

    "The anarchists keep comparing the minarchists to the guards!"

  • Jordan||

    Haha holy shit, this is brilliant.

  • General Butt Naked||

    *stands up, slow clap*

  • db||

    Well done.

  • pmains||

    What do you think really happened to MNG?

  • NeonCat||

    Recess appointment?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Anyone who has read SugarFree's blog is on some agency's watchlist.

  • ||

    Yes, but the agencies are the Black Chamber and the Laundry, and they're more concerned with CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN.

  • R C Dean||

    SO this pretty much puts the lie to the current position (as far as I can tell) that either

    (a) no, we aren't sweeping up data indiscriminately on every single person in the US (if this were true, they wouldn't have known about the Google searches at all); or

    (b) we are sweeping up data indiscriminately, but we only look at data related to known suspects (if this were true, they would never have looked at the Google searches of this couple).

    So, yes, the NSA is sweeping everything, and is looking at data without regard to probably cause or suspicion. They are bootstrapping here, using the data to create suspicion, not unlike the cops walking into your house without a warrant and tossing the place until they find something, and then saying post facto that the search was justified ab initio.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Doing it with Google searches is so nuts, though. For instance, someone might look up a poison plant they just bought, not because they want to kill someone, but because they've got an outside dog.

    But now we're all suspects, without legal protections. How is this not a tyranny again?

  • Rich||

    someone might look up a poison plant they just bought, not because they want to kill someone, but because they've got an outside dog.

    "Heh. That's what they *all* say."

  • ||

    Uh, it is a tyranny, dude. Try fighting against it if it decides it has a problem with you.

  • Pro Libertate||

    In all seriousness, I wonder what the administration thinks it can't do.

  • anon||

    Deal with OBSTRUKTIONIZT RETHUGLICANZ, obviously.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Nah, that's just propaganda. If you think you can ignore the other two branches and the Constitution, then what power do the Republicans have?

  • anon||

    Bush.

  • ||

    Once you think you can get away with killing a random citizen (and then in fact do get away with it), what's left?

  • CE||

    Just like arresting people who buy over one bottle of cold medicine a year, because obviously they're cookin' with meth.

  • Killazontherun||

    Aren't you familiar with modern, progressive theories of government? There authority is derived ex nihilo.

  • Killazontherun||

    Their

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    But hey, Catholic hospitals have to offer free birth control now, so it's OK.

  • Adam330||

    Or this lady is making it up, which seems entirely possible because she didn't mention them shooting her dog.

  • Tman||

    OH YEAH RC? WELL COME TO NEW JERSEY AND TELL THAT TO THE 9/11 FAMILIES YOU COWARD! I TALKED TO THEM AND THEY SAID THIS IS OK BECAUSE THERE FAMILY IS DEAD SO THERE.

    /Christied

  • anon||

    We're all 9/11 victims now.

  • ||

    Word.

  • Brendan||

    Typing in 'How to Make a pressure', gets an autocomplete option adding "cooker bomb" at the top.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Which pretty much guarantees that thousands of people will search for that term when they hit enter on the autocomplete, even though that's not what they were looking for.

  • Bee Tagger||

    Arrest Google for entrapment!

  • Brendan||

    Also, look up bulk fireworks, nitromethane, and make sure to visit:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pressure_cooker_bomb

  • ||

    Nice job BRENDAN you just got HampersandR added to The List.

  • db||

    After 45 minutes of such nonsense, the search-engine police left. Another reason to switch to DuckDuckGo.

    Don't know about DuckDuckGo, but as long as your search terms are included in the URL your browser is looking for, that data is available to anyone who can intercept your packets.

  • Paul.||

    Net Neutrality makes that very possible.

  • db||

    When are the NNSquad folks going to realize they've been played for fools?

  • ||

    Never. They're vastly too stupid in the first place to have that epiphany. "I want the government to control the internet instead of Comcast because I hate Comcast because they have a government granted monopoly and so it's all Comcast's fault and I can trust the government to never throttle my torrents even though they're the ones who passed the DMCA!"

    Jesus Christ these people are retarded.

  • Bryan C||

    They won't.

  • np||

  • Zeb||

    As stupid and terrible as it is that these people were bothered for such a stupid reason, I think that the stupidest and most terrible thing here is how the supposed anti-terrorism experts just latch onto whatever the latest scary story is. Some guy had some explosive in his shoes, so everyone has to take off their shoes at the airport. There was some rumor of plots involving liquid explosives, so you can't bring a bottle of liquor home from our trip, or drink water while waiting for your plane. And now pressure cookers are suspicious? Fucking morons. There are any number of things that could be used to make bombs or kill people. Giving extra scrutiny to the few things that have been used that way is just retarded.

  • Rich||

    Giving extra scrutiny to the few things that have been used that way is just retarded.

    Creating JOBS is "retarded"?!

    /retarded

  • Steve G||

    Like the military, always training for the last war.

  • Rasilio||

    Worse than that, the military actually shows signs of being able to learn from their failures, these morons just keep doing the same thing over and over again

  • ||

    Yeah, and the Einsteins they have working in these agencies are mouth breathers who have just enough cranial capacity to go "pressure cooker last time...PRESSURE COOKER BAD", and that's it. They say you're always fighting the last war, and these geniuses are always looking for the last thing used. Because that's simple and all they're capable of.

  • Killazontherun||

    Widows, orphans, don't you care?

  • General Butt Naked||

    It's funny (and sad) because it's so specific. One incident with a bookbag and a pressure cooker and the feds are latched onto it like a dog with a bone. Totally distracted.

    The assumption that all this snooping by the feds makes us safer if fucking hogwash. Look what those resources are being put in to. They're overloaded with data and fighting criminals who are already caught.

    This method of policing is terrible for catching actual terrorists, but awesome for rooting out dissent and terrorizing the citizenry.

    If only we weren't a nation of fucking pantshitting punks that can be cowed into submission by ONE goddamn terrorist attack.

  • Killazontherun||

    If only we weren't a nation of fucking pantshitting punks that can be cowed into submission by ONE goddamn terrorist attack.

    Our enemies are the only ones having any fun.

  • General Butt Naked||

    By "enemies" do you mean the scary evil brown guys we never hear from or the national security apparatus that's all up in our collective grill pieces?

  • Killazontherun||

    Yes. And most Pakistanis intelligence officers are whiter than moonshine in rain.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Isn't it Talk Like a Terrorist Thursday?

  • Killazontherun||

    Tosh 3.0 had a segment of fan made clips where you spring out from a door and say some obnoxious to your coworkers. The best one went like this:

    'It's September the tenth. You know what tomorrow is? Party at my house.'

    At this point, to deflate the politicians, we should be treating 9/11 like a New Orleans funeral.

  • anon||

    Just googled up "how to make a pressure cooker bomb" for shits and giggles. Hopefully I'll get to tell some asshole to go fuck himself soon.

  • CE||

    You left out backpacks. It's the combination of the two that makes you suspicious.

  • Killazontherun||

    Here's a ready made speech.

    'No, you may not without a warrant. Now, go away and make some use of your lives for a change. There are more people walking around who have been struck by lightning twice than who have died from terrorism in the US. You know what that means? You have less value than an assembly line belt buckle inspector.'

  • anon||

    I was thinking something more like this:

    "Are you Anon?"

    "I dunno."

    "May we ask you some questions?"

    "Nope."

    "Why not?"

    "Fuck you, that's why."

  • Killazontherun||

    I was going for more of an Aaron Sorkin jumble of truthy factoids spoken in a condescending manner as possible, but your way definitely has serious merit. Leaves them guessing and wanting more.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Follow up by looking up backpacks.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I should refresh the comments more often.

  • Paul.||

    After 45 minutes of such nonsense, the search-engine police left. The agents reportedly told Catalono's husband "that they do this about 100 times a week. And that 99 of those visits turn out to be nothing."

    No they don't. They're going to tell me that over say, the last sixteen weeks, they've caught sixteen terrorists?

    Bullshit.

  • Rich||

    Truthfully, Paul, the 100th visit could also be nothing.

  • BakedPenguin||

    No, they find a little pot on the 100th visit and bust the person for that.

  • anon||

    "Find."

  • Dweebston||

    I'm guessing they're off by a factor of two, at least.

    It's inevitable that Americans will ask why the NSA can't have done more to prevent the next calamity, which is a completely legit question, except that most people will want more surveillance and more follow-through, not less. The NSA must recognize that it's merely a matter of waiting, which spells out a rather sick incentive.

  • Bryan C||

    I suspect the 100th visit is to someone who has the wrong books, dogs, or attitude. It makes all the rest worthwhile.

  • Paul.||

    Pressure cooker.

    Backpack..

    Pressure cooker.

    Backback.

    Bomb.

    Explosion.

    Nails.

    Allah.

  • Killazontherun||

    vinegar & baking soda

  • DJF||

    You want bombs I will give you bombs.

    'The Lone Ranger
    'White House Down'
    'After Earth'

  • anon||

    I liked Olympus though, but I think that's just cause I like Gerard Butler.

  • ||

    NTTAWWT

  • CE||

    The Lone Ranger is the best movie I've seen in years. The most fun since Batman Begins. The finale made the endings of The Avengers and The Man of Steel look like CGI snooze-fests by comparison. I was amped up all day after watching it. Too bad it's not in theaters anymore.

  • ||

    + 72 virgins.

  • Steve G||

    Attn: OPERATION Talk Like a Terrorist is over. Initiate OPERATION Google Suspicious Shit!

  • anon||

    Good to know y'all are finally catching up!

  • Rasilio||

    Oooh I know, google sniper rifles and then google Hotels with white house views

  • ||

    Hotel Washington or the Hay-Adams. You're welcome.

  • datcv||

    This is terrifying if true. I would like someone to confirm this story.

  • Paul.||

    OT: Seattle Times goes to subscriber model. Nice knowing you.

  • prolefeed||

    “Are you [name redacted]?” one asked while glancing at a clipboard.

    "I assert my Fifth Amendment right to not answer questions from government agents" would be the appropriate response.

    He affirmed that was indeed him, and was asked if they could come in. Sure, he said.

    "Please leave my property immediately" would be a good reply.

    They asked if they could search the house, though it turned out to be just a cursory search.

    "Do you have a search warrant?"

    Such innocents.

  • db||

    It is getting to be a good idea to have a relationship with an attorney who can be reached at any time.

  • ||

    Your proposed replies sound like invitations to get your home wrecked, pets shot, and an arrest based on some drugs that just happened to fall out of your pocket at a bad time.

  • H. ReardEn||

    Have you downloaded copyrighted material from The Pirate Bay? Prepare to face criminal charges that could result in 40 years in prison.

    I would like to invite your scenario to occur in my life, but I prefer watching Saturday's UFC fights on Sunday mornings.

  • np||

    What will be presented at the upcoming Defcon conference:
    Hackers Reveal Nasty New Car Attacks--With Me Behind The Wheel (Video)

    Stomping on the brakes of a 3,500-pound Ford Escape that refuses to stop–or even slow down–produces a unique feeling of anxiety. In this case it also produces a deep groaning sound, like an angry water buffalo bellowing somewhere under the SUV’s chassis. The more I pound the pedal, the louder the groan gets–along with the delighted cackling of the two hackers sitting behind me in the backseat.
  • Zeb||

    See, this is why I like to have my brakes and steering mechanically connected to the road in some way. Drive by wire in passenger cars just seems like a bad idea.

  • CE||

    Just wait til driverless cars hit the road en masse.

  • Scotticus Finch||

    When this happens, instances of collisions will plummet.

    Still, the first (and every subsequent) fatality caused by system failure will be lamented as if no one had ever died on a highway before.

  • Agent Rogersz||

    Innocent Couple Visited by Feds After Google Searching for Backpacks and Pressure Cookers

    No one is "innocent."

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Given the commentariat on this site someone here shoulda gotten a visit from the Google police by now.

    Maybe we've all been pegged as pathetically harmless crackpots.

    I know I am. Honest.

    "Get off my lawn, Copper!"

  • Killazontherun||

    I've been googling 'authentic Haitian voodoo priestess for ceremonial rentals'. You see, the grave of Lizzy Borden is as easy afternoon outing from where I live. I plan to dig her up, have her turned into a zombie, give her a nice, new shiny axe and point her in the direction of that city full of oath breakers Washington DC way with a slap on the butt and a 'have at 'em!'

    Just doing my part as a 'harmless crank' to keep you terrorist unexposed.

  • Robert||

    Is that "crackpots" or "crock pots"?

  • Stilgar||

    @Riggs - are you sure this is fact and not fiction? Looking at the "source" material it is not at all clear and if anything, leans towards fiction.

  • db||

    Well, I know I'm not going to be sending it around until I get confirmation from a couple more reliable sources.

    It could just be someone playing a prank to show how many paranoid nut jobs there are out there. Or it could be legit. No way of knowing when your primary source is a personal blog of unverified provenance.

  • UnCivilServant||

    The behaviour of the "agents" makes me suspect a fabrication.

  • Steve G||

    yeah, too calm/courteous

  • db||

    The Atlanticwire claims they have confirmed that the "visit" did take place, that the FBI was not involved, and that the officers involved were local police, not Feds. The question of who informed the local police is of course still open.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Unless you have any evidence this is fabricated, I suggest you shut up and go away.

  • db||

    I demand evidence unless the assertion fits my preconveived notions!

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    The burden of proof is on the claim that FBI agents are demanding full-house searches with no warrant based on google searches 100 times a week and only one person in the country reports it.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Is this the same Michele Catalano who used to run the 'a small victory' blog? The spelling's the same--she used to point out her single 'l'.

    'Cos if it is, that'd be weird.

  • Wind Rider||

    Same.

  • Marc F Cheney||

    Here I thought I might be a little paranoid, and it turns out I haven't been paranoid enough.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    The agents reportedly told Catalono's husband "that they do this about 100 times a week. And that 99 of those visits turn out to be nothing.

    My guess is that 99.99 of those visits turn out to be nothing. And that's part of the point. Even if you accept the premise that it is legitimate to trade liberty for security, this just isn't doing all that much to deliver the security. These guys are pissing away 450 man-hours a week (6 agents * 100 visits * 45 min) basically wasting people's time. That's not counting the equipment or the resources going into finding all these false positives. That's 11 FTEs that really are doing pretty much nothing to actually identify and deter terrorism.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    100 visits and requests for a warrantless full-house search a week, and only one person ever mentions it publicly.

    That would set off bullshit (or at least extreme skepticism) alarms in the mind of an objective reporter, but sadly none of them work at Reason anymore.

    So we get the charade of a very strong claim in the headline and the lede, followed by "addenda" which basically cut the legs out from under the justification for that claim. But of course Reason will leave the claim there anyway, because the remnants of the commentariat love this shit, and will continue to believe the woman's story regardless of how little corroborating evidence there is.

  • db||

    What about the piece in the Atlantic that confirms this visit did take place?

  • Sigivald||

    Nobody denied that the visit took place.

    Personally, since it's Michele Catalano, I suspect someone was trying to cause her some trouble, since she's made herself some enemies in her blogging days, I think.

    (I don't know how to square my general respect for her writing and thinking abilities - from reading her back when she actually published - with getting "FBI" wrong, and getting the idea of "100 times a week", unless the agent simply lied about it.

    But it's also kinda stressful, and I suspect local cops doing something sketchy like that aren't big on deflating mistaken ideas about whose authority they're acting on.)

    But the "real WTF" here is the idea that anyone in the Security Apparatus is stupid enough to think that "pressure cooker + backpack = terrorist".

    That's the same anti-logic that makes people take off their shoes to get on an airplane, because one guy tried that once.)

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    The Atlantic confirmed that a law enforcement visit took place, not the one that Catalano described. Considering she misrepresented the agency that made the visit -- not a minor mistake, and not one she could have plausibly been confused about -- that doesn't help the rest of her story in the credibility department.

  • setTHEline||

    Also it's been confirmed that the "visit" did take place by The Guardian. Why is it so hard to believe that government agencies are sifting through this type of data and acting on it?

  • ChrisO||

    I'm more than a little skeptical of this one.

  • Steve G||

    Then again, if not to do things like this, why collect all this interwebz data??

  • West Texas||

    [i]They asked if they could search the house[/i]

    Shouldn't we all know the correct answer to this one by now?

  • ||

    Addendum 1: In a Twitter discussion, tech policy reporter (and libertarian) Declan McCullagh suggests that the visit may not have been a result of the couple's Google history. Tweets McCullagh: "Tip from nosy neighbors is likely source, or IP datadump from http://buypressurecookers.com."

    No less scary.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Move them goalposts.

    Do you support a ban on nosy neighbors? If it's just as scary as NSA snooping on google searches, you should, right?

  • Adam.||

    Seems a bit too unreal, as fast as we're losing privacy and freedom I just can't imagine they've made this big of a jump...

  • Steve G||

    yeah, it implies their apparatus is actually functional. something I seriously doubt.

  • db||

    Another worrying aspect of this is if they really do this "100 times a week," then why is this the first time it has been publicly reported?

  • Killazontherun||

    Looking out the window just now, I thought I saw several drops of white rain, it was a gaggle of hummingbirds pooping in near unison. There are about twenty or so of them that attack the flowers in the courtyard. The most exciting thing to happen today.

  • Robert||

    Kinda yucky, come to think of it, how a brand of shampoo has that name.

  • db||

    The sad part is her husband was actually googling how to "buy/pressure hookers."

  • Curtisls87||

    While I cannot speak to the veracity of this particular claim, one of the things that bothers me is that no smart terrorist is going to Google anything. There are vast numbers of URLs out there that are not indexed by any search site. This underworld of the internet is where the real terrorists are going to be trading information, and you, me, nor anyone else is going to find that on Google. This is why the efforts of the government to use search engine data is only likely to result in finding the truly clumsy, and they would most likely be found by other means, anyway.

  • Stilgar||

    This story still does not seem quite right.

    but that 'she was visited by Nassau County police department … They were working in conjunction with Suffolk County police department.'"

    Nassau and Suffok county coppers working together? And not sure why any FBI bureaucrat would even mention anything beyond it was Nassau county cops who came to the house.

    I'm still not a believer.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Evidently it was a disgruntled employer who tipped them off.

  • DenverJay||

    And for all of you acting like you believe that the government is just stupid. I propose that THEY know very well how useless these tactics are for combating terrorism; this is not the point. The point is to take control; to make the Constitution meaningless, to create a State where THEY can do whatever the hell THEY want. If you think that the NSA, TSA, etc., is dedicated to combating terrorism, then you have fallen for The Big Lie. The point is to create a situation where the government can do whatever they want, and the people have no legal means to resist.

  • Monkey's Uncle||

    On Internet you keep tabs in browser. In former Constitutional Amerika, browser keeps tabs on YOU!

  • Lori||

    Cole. even though Dawn`s c0mment is good, last friday I got a gorgeous Chrysler sincee geting a check for $9144 this past four weeks and just a little over ten-k this past-munth. it's actualy my favourite-work Ive had. I started this three months/ago and straight away started making over $83... per hour. I went to this site, http://www.Day34.com

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