Update: Now We Know Why Googling ‘Pressure Cookers’ Gets a Visit from Cops – Philip Bump – The Atlantic Wire
I no longer say “God Bless America,” i now say “God Help America.”
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?
Update, 7:05 p.m.: Because the Googling happened at work.
The Suffolk County Police Department released a statement this evening that answers the great mystery of the day.
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.
[T]hey were peppering my husband with questions. Where is he from? Where are his parents from? They asked about me, where was I, where do I work, where do my parents live. Do you have any bombs, they asked. 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. …
Have you ever looked up how to make a pressure cooker bomb? My husband, ever the oppositional kind, asked them if they themselves weren’t curious as to how a pressure cooker bomb works, if they ever looked it up. Two of them admitted they did.
The men identified themselves as members of the “joint terrorism task force.” The composition of such task forces depend on the region of the country, but, as we outlined after the Boston bombings, include a variety of federal agencies. (The photo above is from the door-to-door sweep in Watertown at that time.) Among those agencies: the FBI and Homeland Security.
As of this afternoon, it was still not clear which agency knocked on Catalano’s door. The Guardian reported that an FBI spokesperson said that Catalano “was visited by Nassau County police department … working in conjunction with Suffolk County police department.” (Catalano apparently lives on Long Island, most likely in Nassau County.)
Detective Garcia of the Nassau County Police, however, told The Atlantic Wire by phone that his department was “not involved in any way.”
- Writer reportedly gets a visit from police over Google searches for backpacks and pressure cookers (EndtheLie.com)
- Google ‘pressure cooker,’ get a police visit? Maybe not. (washingtonpost.com)
- Another Wild Story About Government Spying Circulates the Internet, Only to Be Debunked Later (thedailybanter.com)