Long Island resident Michele Catalano received a visit from six members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force because she was suspected of being a terrorist. Catalano describes what happened while she was at work and her husband and son were at home.
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.
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.
Why the interest in this family’s cooking practices? Apparently a few weeks earlier, Catalano had been researching pressure cookers on the internet to learn how to better cook quinoa, and her husband had been looking up backpacks. So our intrepid NSA ‘connected the dots’ as they are so fond of saying.
After about 45 minutes, the investigators probably decided that they did not fit the profile of terrorists and left. Catalano’s husband said that “They mentioned that they do this about 100 times a week. And that 99 of those visits turn out to be nothing.” I wonder what would have happened if the family did fit the profile. And so much for the claims that the NSA spying program only targets people communicating with those overseas.
Apart from the creepiness of the whole episode, if six people are assigned to this investigation, the mind simply boggles at the sheer number of people needed to investigate all the false positives that are being generated. If nothing else, the massive NSA snooping is surely a jobs program. No wonder the budget for DHS is so huge.
Catalano has strongly rejected accusations that she made up this story. But the fact that her story is so plausible is itself a damning indictment of the state of ubiquitous government surveillance. And it has become plausible because of all that we have learned from Edward Snowden.