Everyone knows by this point that you have to be careful what you say on social media sites like Facebook. One bad joke taken out of context could land you in jail on “terrorism” charges. So, everyone should know by now that we live in a “see something, say something” society, and if you say something questionable in an online, public forum, you’re at risk of the authorities paying you a visit “just to ask you a few questions.”
Well, now it’s not just the public domain that you need to worry about. Watch what you type in the Google search query box, or else you too might get a visit from the police asking if you’re a terrorist.
This is what happened to the Catalanos when a series of random Google searches they did raised red flags and created a potential terrorist profile for the authorities. Just a year ago, this would have meant nothing. But since we live in a “post-Boston bombing” world, you can’t search for “pressure cooker” and “backpack” at the same time without potentially being harassed by law enforcement. Apparently, Mr. Catalano did a search for “backpacks,” and his wife had searched on a separate occasion for “pressure cookers.”
Here was part of Mrs. Catalano’s account of what happened:
“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… [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 part of a joint terrorism task force. The FBI was aware of the situation and said that local law enforcement had handled it. So, it must have been a local “joint terrorism task force.”