Pressure Cooker, Backpack Google Searches Lead to Visit From Police

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A Long Island couple was visited by six men from a joint terrorism task force after Googling pressure cookers and backpacks, according to a new report.

How'd the government know what they were Googling - and so fast?

The Suffolk County Police Department released a statement:

"Intelligence Detectives received a tip from a Bay Shore based computer company regarding suspicious computer searches conducted by a recently released employee."

"The 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.

Nevertheless, they were peppering the couple 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," Michelle Catalano recalls.

"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.

After the Boston Marathon bombing, however, this has been known to include a variety of federal agencies, including the FBI and Homeland Security.

It was still not clear which agency knocked on Catalano's door, however the county police department told The Atlantic that it was "not involved in any way."

Similarly, FBI spokesperson Peter Donald denied involvement, adding that he couldn't provide what information that led to the visit, as he didn't know.

Ever since details of NSA's surveillance infrastructure were leaked by Edward Snowden, the agency has been insistent on the boundaries of the intel it collects.

It is not, by law, allowed to spy on Americans.

Its PRISM program, under which it collects internet content, does not include information from Americans unless they are connected to terror suspects.

It collects metadata on phone calls made by Americans, however officials reportedly stopped collecting metadata on Americans' Internet use in 2011.

So how, then, would the government know what Catalano and her husband were searching for? Follow the link to continue reading this article in The Atlantic ...

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