The Department of Homeland Security and Maryland state police allegedly used a gun law as an excuse to search a reporter’s home and illegally seize her notes.
Audrey Hudson, a conservative investigative journalist, claims that officers raided her home before dawn in August and seized some of her files.
The action was illegal because police only had a warrant to search for firearms and not for her notes, Daily Caller writer Alex Pappas contends. The officers were checking to see if Hudson’s husband, Paul Flanagan, had any guns. It is illegal for Flanagan, a convicted felon, to own a gun in Maryland where the couple lives.
A copy of the search warrant obtained by The Atlantic states that police were simply ordered to seize all weapons and ammunition from the residence. The purpose of the raid was to enforce gun laws, not seize notes.
Hudson claims that agents involved in the raid took documents that contained information about her sources. The sources included contacts inside the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration.
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“They took my notes without my knowledge and without legal authority to do so,” Hudson alleged. “The search warrant they presented said nothing about walking out of here with a single sheet of paper.”
Hudson has written for the Washington Times, Newsmax and the Colorado Observer
Agents targeted whistleblowers
Hudson believes that she and not her husband was the real target of the raid. She thinks the purpose of the action was to learn the names of her sources inside the Federal Air Marshal Service and the US Coast Guard (which oversees the Air Marshals). Hudson has written stories critical of the Air Marshals in the past.
“This guy basically came in here and took my anonymous sources and turned it over to the agency they were blowing the whistle on,” Hudson said. “And those guys still work there.”
The Coast Guard Investigative Service did take part in raid, Carlos Diaz, a spokesman for the agency admitted. The Coast Guard believes it had jurisdiction because Paul Flanagan works for the Coast Guard.
Diaz claims that Coast Guard agents took the documents because they were classified and not supposed to be in the hands of a civilian. He also claimed that the documents were listed on the warrant.
“None of the documents were classified,” Hudson contends. “There were no laws broken in me obtaining these files.”
Hudson claims that the agents took other files, including her notes. She thinks somebody could discern the identity of her sources from the notes.
Part of continuing war on journalism
The action against Hudson is not an isolated case. It is an example of what the Committee to Protect Journalists has labeled a war on leaks, as previously reported by Off The Grid News.
Hudson is only the latest journalist to report harassment and intimidation by federal agents. New York Times reporter James Risen has been ordered to testify against a source or go to jail. In May the Justice Department obtained two months’ worth of phone records for Associated Press reporters in an attempt to learn the identify of whistleblowers.
What’s truly disturbing is that the actions Hudson described take the attack on freedom of the press to a whole new level. Some of her charges against federal agents include:
- Officers with body armor entered her home before dawn in a search for weapons.
- Agents checked Paul Flanagan’s Facebook account in an attempt to see if he was buying illegal guns from Sweden.
- The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) contacted Flanagan and asked him about a gun purchase five years ago.
- Local police were used in an effort to intimidate a journalist.
- The Maryland State Police have known for years that Hudson and Flanagan keep guns in their homes.
Reporter scared to do her job
Audrey currently works as a freelancer for outlets such as Newsmax. She was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
Like a number of other journalists, Hudson believes that the federal government is targeting her in an effort to learn the identity of whistleblowers in order to punish them. The Obama administration has an active effort to identify whistleblowers called the Insider Threat Program and it has prosecuted at least eight whistleblowers for espionage under the 1917 Espionage Act, Off The Grid News previously reported.
Hudson admitted that the raid has left her afraid to contact her sources. She said she came forward in order to send a warning to her sources without talking to them directly.
“I’m terrified to contact them,” Hudson told The Daily Caller. “I’ve got to let these guys know somehow.”