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Feds Investigate Couple for Online Searches (pressure cookers, backpacks and quinoa, oh my!)
Medium.com ^ | Monday, August 1, 2013 | Michell Catalano

Posted on 08/01/2013 9:40:07 AM PDT by kristinn

It was a confluence of magnificent proportions that led six agents from the joint terrorism task force to knock on my door Wednesday morning. Little did we know our seemingly innocent, if curious to a fault, Googling of certain things was creating a perfect storm of terrorism profiling. Because somewhere out there, someone was watching. Someone whose job it is to piece together the things people do on the internet raised the red flag when they saw our search history.

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. And in these times, when things like the Boston bombing happen, you spend a lot of time on the internet reading about it and, if you are my exceedingly curious news junkie of a twenty-ear-old son, you click a lot of links when you read the myriad of stories. You might just read a CNN piece about how bomb making instructions are readily available on the internet and you will in all probability, if you are that kid, click the link provided.

Which might not raise any red flags. Because who wasn’t reading those stories? Who wasn’t clicking those links? But 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.

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.

This was weeks ago. I don’t know what took them so long to get here. Maybe they were waiting for some other devious Google search to show up but “what the hell do I do with quinoa” and “Is A-Rod suspended yet” didn’t fit into the equation so they just moved in based on those older searches.

I was at work when it happened. My husband called me as soon as it was over, almost laughing about it but I wasn’t joining in the laughter. His call left me shaken and anxious.

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.

A million things went through my husband’s head. None of which were right. He walked outside and the men greeted him by flashing badges. He could see they all had guns holstered in their waistbands.

“Are you [name redacted]?” one asked while glancing at a clipboard. He affirmed that was indeed him, and was asked if they could come in. Sure, he said.

They asked if they could search the house, though it turned out to be just a cursory search. They walked around the living room, studied the books on the shelf (nope, no bomb making books, no Anarchist Cookbook), looked at all our pictures, glanced into our bedroom, pet our dogs. They asked if they could go in my son’s bedroom but when my husband said my son was sleeping in there, they let it be.

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.

They searched the backyard. They walked around the garage, as much as one could walk around a garage strewn with yardworking equipment and various junk. They went back in the house and asked more questions.

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.

By this point they had realized they were not dealing with terrorists. They asked my husband about his work, his visits to South Korea and China. The tone was conversational.

They never asked to see the computers on which the searches were done. They never opened a drawer or a cabinet. They left two rooms unsearched. I guess we didn’t fit the exact profile they were looking for so they were just going through the motions.

They mentioned that they do this about 100 times a week. And that 99 of those visits turn out to be nothing. I don’t know what happens on the other 1% of visits and I’m not sure I want to know what my neighbors are up to.

45 minutes later, they shook my husband’s hand and left. That’s when he called me and relayed the story. That’s when I felt a sense of creeping dread take over. What else had I looked up? What kind of searches did I do that alone seemed innocent enough but put together could make someone suspicious? Were they judging me because my house was a mess (Oh my god, the joint terrorism task force was in my house and there were dirty dishes in my sink!). Mostly I felt a great sense of anxiety. This is where we are at. Where you have no expectation of privacy. Where trying to learn how to cook some lentils could possibly land you on a watch list. Where you have to watch every little thing you do because someone else is watching every little thing you do.

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.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: backpacks; benghazi; bigbrother; dhs; fastandfurious; fbivisit; homelandsecurity; impeachnow; irs; jbt; michelecatalano; nsa; obamasfault; pressurecooker; pressurecookers; stasi; thugs; tyranny
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Michele Catalano- Former music contributor at Forbes, freelance writer published in The Magazine, Maura Magazine and at Boing Boing http://www.michelecat.wordpress.com
1 posted on 08/01/2013 9:40:07 AM PDT by kristinn
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To: kristinn

“They never asked to see the computers on which the searches were done.”

because they had already searched those from the main office.

Never ever let the police conduct a search without a warrant


2 posted on 08/01/2013 9:44:51 AM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: kristinn

OH NO..my recent online ammo order and my stint in Turkey, 79-80,..will I get a visit also????


3 posted on 08/01/2013 9:45:29 AM PDT by Paul46360
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To: kristinn

just wow


4 posted on 08/01/2013 9:45:40 AM PDT by knak (The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing)
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To: kristinn

This guy let 6 strangers into his house and answered all those personal questions, without even the mention of warrant? I’d slap my husband upside the head for doing such a thing!


5 posted on 08/01/2013 9:45:48 AM PDT by workerbee (The President of the United States is DOMESTIC ENEMY #1)
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To: kristinn

“May we search your house?” Not unless you have a warrant and I’m in cuffs.


6 posted on 08/01/2013 9:46:10 AM PDT by Mac n Jac (www.vetsfightingms.org)
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To: kristinn
Use a search engine that doesn't spy on you.

https://startpage.com/

7 posted on 08/01/2013 9:46:24 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Who knew that one day professional wrestling would be less fake than professional journalism?)
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To: kristinn

It has never been suffieciently expplained, as far as I know, how - with all of this out of control surveillance - they did not catch the Boston Marathon bombers.


8 posted on 08/01/2013 9:46:41 AM PDT by cld51860 (Oderint dum metuant)
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To: driftdiver

It can’t be said enough!!!!
Never ever let the police conduct a search without a warrant
Never ever let the police conduct a search without a warrant
Never ever let the police conduct a search without a warrant


9 posted on 08/01/2013 9:47:31 AM PDT by crazyhorse691 (Obama is just the symptom of what is destroying the U.S.)
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To: kristinn
I guess we didn’t fit the exact profile they were looking for so they were just going through the motions.

I'm still wondering what prompted an explosives test on a set of C.S. Lewis paperbacks I was carrying through an airport checkpoint in June.

10 posted on 08/01/2013 9:48:02 AM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: kristinn

Either this article is BS or we have officially crossed a line. A Big Red One.

If the story is true, it means they are actively trying to connect the dots of discussions, internet surfing, etc. Of every man woman and child in this nation. That doesn’t just give me pause. It is several orders of magnitude worse, especially if THAT ONE GROUP shows up at a hundred homes a week. That is proactive surveilence of all citizens, without a warrant.

As I said, Either this article is BS or we have officially crossed a line. A Big Red One. And we have moved out of what Claire Wolfe called “that awkward stage”.


11 posted on 08/01/2013 9:48:34 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: kristinn

America,,,2013.


12 posted on 08/01/2013 9:48:50 AM PDT by chessplayer
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Too bad that doesn’t stop the NSA from spying on you.


13 posted on 08/01/2013 9:48:52 AM PDT by Fresh Wind (The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away.)
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To: kristinn
What a bunch of keystone cops. They've thrown out the 4th amendment, spy on good Americans - and then miss the Boston Bomber who the Russians were begging us to watch out for.

And I'm supposed to feel safer with these clowns protecting me? Gosh, it's just not happening.

14 posted on 08/01/2013 9:49:18 AM PDT by Fido969
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To: cld51860

Maybe he Boston Bombers used Ixquick.


15 posted on 08/01/2013 9:49:54 AM PDT by reformedliberal
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To: workerbee

This guy let 6 strangers into his house and answered all those personal questions, without even the mention of warrant? I’d slap my husband upside the head for doing such a thing!


I think the story is bogus. I’m treating it as if she is discussing off planet aliens landing in their front yard and doing a quick inspection - lunacy.

I have to see it that way. The implications of it being true are just to huge.


16 posted on 08/01/2013 9:50:48 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: driftdiver

Never ever let the police conduct a search without a warrant


You think not having a warrant will stop them? Wow.


17 posted on 08/01/2013 9:50:54 AM PDT by chessplayer
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

They get all the packets from your house at the local switch. That they have backdoor access to the search engines is lagniappe and only makes things faster and easier for them.

They have all your searches too. From any engine you choose. It just takes them a millisecond longer to put them together.


18 posted on 08/01/2013 9:51:01 AM PDT by Black Agnes
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To: kristinn
...asked if they could come in...

"No."

...They asked if they could search the house...

"Do you have a search warrant?"

...they were peppering my husband with questions. Where is he from? Where are his parents from? ...

"Am I under arrest? I will not answer any questions outside the presence of my attorney."

19 posted on 08/01/2013 9:51:14 AM PDT by FReepaholic (Stupidity is not a crime, so you're free to go.)
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To: kristinn

I smell a “Run the FBI Ragged with Google” protest campaign a comin’....


20 posted on 08/01/2013 9:52:02 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: kristinn

In Amerika today skybot can check anyone out...unless their in a mosque. That’s off limits.


21 posted on 08/01/2013 9:55:07 AM PDT by exPBRrat
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To: cld51860
. . . how - with all of this out of control surveillance - they did not catch the Boston Marathon bombers.

Probably because it would be racist to profile a Muslim. It is much easier to profile ordinary citizens instead.

Did you ever read Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn? I did way back when I was in high school. It provides splendid insight on the nanny state mindset.

One passage which particularly struck me told of some neighbors who went to the local KGB office to complain about the lack of arrangements made to care for the young children of a couple which had been detained for suspicious activity. Unfortunately for them, the office was short exactly two people of their detention quota for the month. Guess who filled it?

22 posted on 08/01/2013 9:55:20 AM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: cuban leaf

>>Either this article is BS or we have officially crossed a line. A Big Red One.<<

BUMP


23 posted on 08/01/2013 9:55:25 AM PDT by B4Ranch (AGENDA: Grinding America Down ----- http://vimeo.com/63749370)
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To: chessplayer

no it won’t stop them if they choose to come in but it may prevent them from using it in court.


24 posted on 08/01/2013 9:56:08 AM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: cld51860
It has never been suffieciently expplained, as far as I know, how - with all of this out of control surveillance - they did not catch the Boston Marathon bombers.

It's not for that purpose. That's just the public justification. Its real purpose is to collect extorsion information to use against political enemies. Think Obama, Axelrod and Jarrett handling opposition research on this scale. Who would dare oppose them? Certainly not John Roberts. Who would choose to run for office knowing that the Chicago bolshevik mob has access to this kind of information?

25 posted on 08/01/2013 9:57:02 AM PDT by Paine in the Neck (Is John's moustache long enough YET?)
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To: kristinn
Never, ever, let them in.


26 posted on 08/01/2013 9:57:02 AM PDT by Alas Babylon!
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To: Mac n Jac

Do you have a warrant?
Am I being detained?

You’re trespassing


27 posted on 08/01/2013 9:57:11 AM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Mac n Jac
“May we search your house?”

Ask them to let you rifle through their wallet while you're deciding whether or not to let them.

28 posted on 08/01/2013 9:58:04 AM PDT by glorgau
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To: Vigilanteman

try coming up positive on one of their ‘random’ explosives tests and see what happens.

they didn’t know what to do.


29 posted on 08/01/2013 9:58:07 AM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: cld51860

They do not spy on muslims. Only Americans that might resist the takeover of this country.


30 posted on 08/01/2013 9:58:20 AM PDT by dirtymac (Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.)
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To: kristinn
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.

Sounds like the movements of a hit team. Were they trying to start a firefight?

31 posted on 08/01/2013 9:58:35 AM PDT by TigersEye ("No man left behind" is more than an Army Ranger credo it's the character of America.)
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To: cuban leaf

smh... You are so right. Everyone, stop to think on it.


32 posted on 08/01/2013 9:59:38 AM PDT by Alas Babylon!
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To: kristinn

If Bush were president we’d be hearing stories about Bush/Hitler.


33 posted on 08/01/2013 10:00:12 AM PDT by I want the USA back (Fascism is wrong even when practiced by the government.)
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To: Mac n Jac
“May we search your house?” Not unless you have a warrant and I’m in cuffs.

Whether or not he let them in is not the takeaway in this story. The simple fact that they were there at all is HUGE. I'm talking USSR, NAZI Germany huge.

That is why I will assume this story is bogus until corroborating evidence reveals itself.

34 posted on 08/01/2013 10:00:43 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: kristinn
"I’m scared. And not of the right things."

No, Dearie, you are scared of exactly the right things.

35 posted on 08/01/2013 10:00:59 AM PDT by null and void (You don't know what "cutting edge" means till you insult Mohammed.)
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To: cuban leaf

*shrug* The last time an FBI agent showed up on my doorstep, I invited him in.


36 posted on 08/01/2013 10:03:17 AM PDT by null and void (You don't know what "cutting edge" means till you insult Mohammed.)
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To: cuban leaf

I agree with you about the impact, but disagree that it couldn’t be happening.

It is. Sadly. More than sadly, we should all be moaning and crying like banshees! But most will just turn away, nothing to see here, I’m busy....


37 posted on 08/01/2013 10:04:51 AM PDT by Alas Babylon!
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To: Vigilanteman
“And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?... The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation.... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
38 posted on 08/01/2013 10:05:27 AM PDT by Chickensoup (200 million unarmed " people killed in the 20th century by Leftist Totalitarian Fascists)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Use a search engine that doesn’t spy on you.


There is no such thing. They may make the claim, but the govt can track anything.


39 posted on 08/01/2013 10:06:08 AM PDT by chessplayer
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To: cuban leaf
“And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?... The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation.... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
40 posted on 08/01/2013 10:06:28 AM PDT by Chickensoup (200 million unarmed " people killed in the 20th century by Leftist Totalitarian Fascists)
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To: Chickensoup

That is a passage well worth repeating.


41 posted on 08/01/2013 10:08:05 AM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: kristinn
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.

No mention of badges or uniforms yet. Something like that happens and I believe my Mossberg would have made an appearance.

42 posted on 08/01/2013 10:08:50 AM PDT by DeFault User
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To: Vigilanteman

we are beyond the awkward stage


43 posted on 08/01/2013 10:09:20 AM PDT by Chickensoup (200 million unarmed " people killed in the 20th century by Leftist Totalitarian Fascists)
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To: null and void

I’m sure the FBI agent is just THRILLED to be sent to your doorstep for this as well. Takes time away from looking up high-school classmates of some contractor who’s applied for a Security Clearance to track them down and ask them if their classmate had ever been a member of the Communist Party.


44 posted on 08/01/2013 10:10:42 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: Buckeye McFrog

Yep. I was a total waste of his time.


45 posted on 08/01/2013 10:15:30 AM PDT by null and void (You don't know what "cutting edge" means till you insult Mohammed.)
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To: Black Agnes

Ideally, it would require a browser that can encrypt the search request (such as: https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere) or anonymize you as the source (see: https://www.torproject.org/)

Plus a search server that would deliver the results in a discreet form (ixQuick and perhaps startpage and duck duck go) through a proxy server setup, as explained here: http://lifehacker.com/5763170/how-to-secure-and-encrypt-your-web-browsing-on-public-networks-with-hamachi-and-privoxy

A huge pain.


46 posted on 08/01/2013 10:16:44 AM PDT by qwertyz
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To: kristinn

so... anyone saying you’re paranoid if you think they’re listening...

is just ignorant.

they ARE listening to you and watching everything you do

just the facts


47 posted on 08/01/2013 10:16:59 AM PDT by sten (fighting tyranny never goes out of style)
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To: null and void

I feel much better knowing that none of Ed Snowden’s high-school classmates thought he had been a member of the Communist Party.


48 posted on 08/01/2013 10:19:48 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: sten
they ARE listening to you and watching everything you do

And as one would expect the results they are getting are useless garbage.

49 posted on 08/01/2013 10:21:48 AM PDT by TigersEye ("No man left behind" is more than an Army Ranger credo it's the character of America.)
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To: kristinn

The story sounds fabricated.


50 posted on 08/01/2013 10:23:49 AM PDT by AppyPappy (Obama: What did I not know and when did I not know it?)
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