I get more and more discouraged, more upset at the tone the AWC [anti-war crowd] has taken. I will not this time apologize for calling them traitors. I will not back down from those words. When you support an insurgency against your country's soldiers, when you declare that you are in bed in with the enemy, then you are a traitor. And you should be treated as such. I wish that every vet who has returned home from Iraq would see those signs and act upon them.And there's plenty more where that came from.
Flash forward to 2013, and here's Catalano's new thing: The goddamn Gummint is after her because quinoa!
Most of it was innocent enough. I had researched pressure cookers. My husband was looking for a backpack. And maybe in another time those two things together would have seemed innocuous, but we are in “these times” now...NSA is the new MSM! What Catalano described as "six agents from the joint terrorism task force" paid her husband a call: "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..." Panic in Suffolk County! "All I know is if I’m going to buy a pressure cooker in the near future, I’m not doing it online. I’m scared. And not of the right things."
She even got this tale of woe in the Guardian. The usual suspects cried havoc: "A woman on Long Island says that her family was visited by authorities yesterday because of their Internet search history!" flashed National Review; "Yes, the federal government knows what you search for on Google," hand-wrung Reason.
But I knew her work, and waited.
Eventually, from TechCrunch:
Catalano asserts that the visit was likely prompted by her husband searching for the term “backpacks” in close conjunction with her searching for the term “pressure cookers” and her son reading the news. Or something.
Turns out the visit was prompted by the searches, but not in the way most speculation asserted – by a law enforcement-initiated, NSA-enabled dragnet of the couple’s web history. It turns out either Catalano or her husband were conducting these searches from a work computer. And that employer, “a Bay Shore based computer company,” called the police on their former employee...Actually TechCrunch is being kind (or something) -- the Suffolk County Police bulletin they worked from described his search terms as "pressure cooker bombs" and "backpacks." Now, I don't approve employers flipping out over stuff like that, even if their subject is married to an obvious nutcake like Catalano. But it's a far cry from the Federales doing a Google-enabled home-invasion, and it's a bit rich to hear such accusations coming from someone who once wrote, "It makes me angry to see how many people react with glee when something goes wrong with Homeland Security. These people who are wishing and hoping for Bush to fail are, in essence, wishing and hoping for another terrorist attack. Sick."
This would be a useful thing to remember the next time you hear wingnuts working their new "libertarian populism" schtick and denouncing the national security state that 10 years ago they all huddled against for electoral warmth. Or whenever you read anything by Andrew Sullivan.
In other words: If you know they're full of shit, when you squeeze 'em don't expect rosewater.
UPDATE. I should point out that many of the outlets that credulously carried the story have since updated to reveal the con, except people like Mollie Hemingway, for obvious reasons. Oh, and Catalano updated too:
The piece I wrote was the story as we knew it with the information we were told. None of it was fabricated. If you know me, you know I would never do that.I was tempted to ask, how many times does that work? But then I realized there'll always be a whole lot of people who never catch on.
UPDATE 2. At the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger talks about "Obama's Creeping Authoritarianism." Please see above.
UPDATE 3. Commenter Donald G. points out that Catalano eventually came out against the war -- and so she did, in March of 2013. Here's a bit of her day-late-and-dollar-short:
There were others out there like me. I talked to them at work. I talked to them in the school parking lot while we waited for our kids. I talked to them over email or instant message, people from across the country who had that twinge of regret. What we all had in common was this: we felt used. We felt taken advantage of. We felt manipulated. And we were admitting we were wrong.So let history record that starting in 2003 America went to war on Michele Catalano's self-esteem. Key bonus line:
Not that I would have voted for Kerry.Maybe she can start a support group with Andrew Sullivan.
UPDATE 4. Ain't it the truth: "This story would have had entirely different vectors and volume of skree," says commenter mortimer, "had she written, 'My husband, Hakim, who was Googling "pressure cooker bombs"...' I miss Annie Jacobsen."