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Bryan Preston

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August 1, 2013 - 9:43 am

This would put a kink in anyone’s day.

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.

Meanwhile, they 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.

Quinoa is one of the healthiest foods ever, but that’s beside the point here.

That’s Michele Catalano, formerly of the blog A Small Victory, writing above. For what it’s worth, A Small Victory was an anti-terrorism blog, among other things.

So who were the men in the SUV, and why did they show up at her house? They were members of a “joint terrorism task force.” They showed up and peppered Catalano’s husband with questions and searched their house evidently because while Michele was in one part of the house Googling pressure cookers to figure out how to cook lentils a few weeks back, her husband was Googling backpacks on a computer in another part of the house, because he was looking to buy a backpack.

Googling pressure cookers and backpacks, after Boston, apparently earns an American citizen — on whom the NSA is forbidden by law to spy — a casually terrifying visit from armed government men driving around in SUVs. The men told Catalano’s husband that they conduct about 100 similar visits to American households per week.

Yet, the Tsarnaevs somehow flew under the radar.

How are government officials putting search histories together on people who haven’t broken any laws? Just how much information is the government collecting on all of us? If the information state is as pervasive as Catalano’s experience suggests it is, the potential for misuse and abuse is staggering. This isn’t a Republican thing or a Democrat thing or a Libertarian or libertarian thing — it’s an American thing.

Simply put, we’re not really free in our own homes anymore.

h/t Atlantic Wire

Update: The Suffolk County Police have issued a statement on the visit. It turns out that it wasn’t the NSA that was combing through the couple’s Internet searches. It was the husband’s former employer.

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.

Catalano responds here. She been in the blogosphere and isn’t one to make things up. She certainly didn’t make this visit up, which resulted from innocuous searches on a work computer.

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Never consent to a search without a warrant in your face or a gun at your head. Never.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (11)
All Comments   (11)
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Does the Suffolk County Police Department really conduct about "100 similar visits to American households per week" looking for terrorists? That seems a little odd doesn't it?
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
B B BB B B But I thought they SWORE they weren't actually READING out emails and browsing histories, they were ONLY collecting them!?
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
I never use Google.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
A little confusing. A photo on another website shows a joint Terrorist Swat Team
in full gear performing this "raid" . at the Catalano home, with the husband, wife, and two children on the front porch. The team was sure not in casual clothes. Were there TWO raids or has the photo bee "created". Tough to get facts even with the internet available.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
The caption near that photo explains that it is from the Watertown house to house searches in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
what if you simply call the police and tell them there are armed men outside trying to break into your house?
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
It was probably to send a message; mau-mau a known and popular blogger and soon the whole World knows about it. Next, we all have to start acting like criminals because we have a criminal government. Once upon a time, I would have welcomed the knowledge that law enforcement was out investigating some crime, I would have cheerfully greeted them, and talked freely and fully with them. Anymore, they ain't coming in the door and I'm not going out the door. I'll do like the drug dealers and my only questions will be whether they have a warrant and if I'm under arrest. Then if the answer to either is no, I have no further business with them.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree with the comment NEVER consent to a search without a warrent. That's BASIC common sense.

Now, why the HELL do we keep talking about the POTENTIAL for abuse. It's no longer potential people. It's kinetic abuse at this point
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
I thought the name was familiar. And I suggest her blogging put her on someone's watch list, which is why they were watching her searches.

Heck of a war on terror, Barack!
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Never consent to a search without a warrant in your face or a gun at your head. Never.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Exactly.

And for those who don't think a law-abiding citizen has anything to fear, watch these two:

Why you should never talk to the police, Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au4_EdPwTkE


Why you should never talk to the police, Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1t3vtr0kxk


If you have not watched these, please do.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
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