Presto: Googling 'Pressure Cookers' Sparks Police Visit

When members of a "joint terrorism taskforce" arrived to question the Catalanos at their house on Long Island, it seemed to be because the NSA noticed their search for pressure cookers and backpacks on the Internet.

Here's another rude awakening. (Like you needed one.) Stay tuned for the debunk.

Michele Catalano was looking for information online about pressure cookers. Her husband, in the same time frame, was Googling backpacks. Wednesday morning, six men from a joint terrorism task force showed up at their house to see if they were terrorists. Which prompts the question: How'd the government know what they were Googling?

If the Catalanos had really had something to hide, the authorities might have arrived with a battering ram and drawn weapons. But they didn't, so it's all good.

Thursday afternoon, Atlantic was still unsure which "joint terrorism task force" dropped by for a casual search of the Long Island home.

Welcome to the United States of Suspects. Can you smell the freedom? This is your government on secrecy and undisclosed budgets:

One hundred times a week, groups of six armed men drive to houses in three black SUVs, conducting consented-if-casual searches of the property perhaps in part because of things people looked up online.

But the NSA doesn't collect data on Americans, so this certainly won't happen to you.

No, no, no. You don't have all the facts we can't give you, says the NSA.

Well, you can rest easy. The Suffolk County Police Department insists it wasn't the NSA sniffing the Catalanos' home web surfing that prompted the police visit. They claim it was a search performed on a work computer, just citizens informing on citizens:

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. 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.”

After interviewing the company representatives, Suffolk County Police Detectives visited the subject’s home to ask about the suspicious internet searches. The incident was investigated by Suffolk County Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Detectives and was determined to be non-criminal in nature.

What a relief! I mean, there used to be this country named East Germany known for citizens informing on one another. Does anyone else remember that? There was a wall or something. I vaguely remember watching it being torn down on TV in 1989. I was beginning to think some American entrepreneurs bought it and moved it to the U.S. as an attraction. And Stasi with it.

Meanwhile the Edward Snowden saga continues, with allegations that the NSA can review "emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals."

Now, as I understand it, some people in this country get all hot and bothered about big gummint programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The idea that We the People are asked to pay out large chunks of money on expensive medical procedures just to keep fellow Americans nearing the end of their tenure on Earth from dying for a few more weeks fails any kind of rational cost-benefit analysis.

But We the People spending we don't know and it would be unpatriotic and a threat to national security to ask how many hundreds of billions each year on a national security apparatus that employs they can't tell you how many people to snoop into your Amazon purchases and emails because you might be a terrorist in the name of keeping even one more American from dying in a terrorist incident perpetrated by we don't know who until one happens and we couldn't tell you anyway and We the People can't cost-benefit the program because we don't know what we get for our money and if you tell anyone how much it costs you'll be prosecuted, the same people who think big-gummint spending on end-of-life medical care for old people makes no sense think this does.

About Tom Sullivan

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NC-based blogger, political activist and consultant.

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