Audrey Hudson woke up at 4:30 on the morning of August 6 to find her home surrounded by armed agents from the Maryland State Police, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Coast Guard.
The agents had a warrant to search for unauthorized firearms and a “potato gun” that Hudson’s husband, Paul Flanagan, allegedly purchased.
Hudson and Flanagan were held in their kitchen while the agents searched their home. Hudson said Miguel Bosch, a Coast Guard investigator who had worked at the U.S. Marshals Service, asked her if she was the same “Audrey Hudson” who had written “the Air Marshal stories” for The Washington Times.
Hudson is an award-winning former investigative journalist who helped expose problems within the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Air Marshals Service.
The agents confiscated Hudson’s records during the search for items owned by Flanagan, a civilian Coast Guard employee. They also took her legally registered firearms, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Five weeks after the raid, Hudson realized that the agents had taken documents that were not listed on the search warrant.
The documents contained information about sources inside the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration. Hudson told The Daily Caller that a subpoena for the notes was not presented during the raid and argues the confiscation was outside of the search warrant’s parameter:
They took my notes without my knowledge and without legal authority to do so. The search warrant they presented said nothing about walking out of here with a single sheet of paper.
In particular, the files included notes that were used to expose how the Federal Air Marshal Service had lied to Congress about the number of airline flights there were actually protecting against another terrorist attack.
Hudson told The Daily Caller she thinks a lot of her sources may have been exposed:
“This guy basically came in here and took my anonymous sources and turned them over — took my whistle-blowers — and turned it over to the agency they were blowing the whistle on,” Hudson said. “And these guys still work there.”
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The documents that were seized were obtained by Hudson under the Freedom of Information Act. None of the documents had been acquired illegally. Hudson’s personal notes and files were also confiscated.
The Washington Times obtained a copy of the warrant, which did not specify permission to seize notes or files and is preparing legal action to fight what it called an “unwarranted intrusion on the First Amendment”:
“While we appreciate law enforcement’s right to investigate legitimate concerns, there is no reason for agents to use an unrelated gun case to seize the First Amendment protected materials of a reporter,” Times Editor John Solomon said. “This violates the very premise of a free press, and it raises additional concerns when one of the seizing agencies was a frequent target of the reporter’s work.
“Homeland’s conduct in seizing privileged reporters’ notes and Freedom of Information Act documents raises serious Fourth Amendment issues, and our lawyers are preparing an appropriate legal response,” he said. (source)
Hudson’s lawyer, David W. Fischer, said the raid is a potential violation of Ms. Hudson’s constitutional rights:
“Obviously, the warrant is about a gun, nothing about reporters’ notes,” he said. “It would be a blatant constitutional violation to take that stuff if the search warrant didn’t specifically say so.”
“This is a situation where they picked very specifically through her stuff and took documents that the Coast Guard, or the Department of Homeland Security, would be very interested in,” he added.
It is possible that the raid could be considered illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. The documents that were confiscated were related to Hudson’s reporting work, which could mean the seizure was also a violation of First Amendment freedom of the press protections.
“Protecting confidential sources is a part of my honor and hits me at my ethical core. To have someone steal my source information and know it could impact people’s careers is disgusting, a massive overreach. This kind of conduct is intimidation clearly aimed at silencing a vigorous press,” Hudson said.
The Obama administration has a penchant for witch hunts of journalists. Earlier this year, a 44-page application for a search warrant was filed against James Rosen, Fox News’s chief Washington correspondent. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) described Rosen “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” in a leak investigation from June 2009, which revealed North Korea’s intention to conduct a nuclear test despite US sanctions.
Fox executive vice president of news Michael Clemente called the investigation into Rosen “downright chilling”. He added the company was “outraged” to learn that he had been named a criminal co-conspirator for “simply doing his job as a reporter.”
Targeting journalists, smearing bloggers, threatening and locking up reporters…and now, raiding homes under the pretense of searching for guns – are there any limits to what the government will do to interfere with freedom of the press? The agents who raided Hudson’s home took several small arms during their invasion, but Flanagan has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
The raid was three months ago.
What was the real agenda here?
Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”