No, The Feds Didn't Visit A Long Island Journalist's Home Over Her Family's Web Searches

On Thursday freelance journalist
Michele Catalano, a former music contributor at Forbes, claimed that six men from
the FBIand/or members of a
joint terrorism task forcevisited her Long Island home over web searches made at her home.

From a blog post by Catalano on Medium:

… my son’s reading habits combined with my search for a pressure cooker and my husband’s search for a backpack set off an alarm of sorts at the joint terrorism task force headquarters.

The FBI denied involvement, telling the Guardian that Catalano was “visited by Nassau County police department … They were working in conjunction with Suffolk County police department.”

The Nassau PD denied that its officers were involved.

On Thursday night the Suffolk PD said that the Suffolk County Criminal Intelligence Detectives were investigating a tip from Catalano’s husband’s former employer that her husband searched the terms “pressure cooker bombs” and “backpacks” on his work computer.

So it seems that the surprise visit, combined with the mistrust sown by widespread domestic surveillance, led Catalano to misconstrue what spurred the visit from authorities.

From her original blog post:

That’s how I imagine it played out, anyhow. Lots of bells and whistles and a crowd of task force workers huddled around a computer screen looking at our Google history.

In an update, Catalano said that what she initially claimed “was the story as we knew it with the information we were told.”

Interestingly, she still holds to the assertion that web searches made in her home were inspected, saying that the visitors “led [her husband] to believe it was solely from searches from within our house.”

So at the very least, it appears that the initial story — that the FBI visited Catalano’s home because of her son’s reading habits, her searches about pressure cookers, and her husband’s searches for backpacks — has been proven false.

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