Award-winning investigative journalist, Audrey Hudson, had her home raided by armed federal and Maryland-state agents, who used an unrelated search warrant on August 6 to seize documents she'd legally obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request.
Hudson, who exposed problems within the Department of Homeland Security in a series of pieces for The Washington Times, had her private notes and government documents seized by agents, which included – surprise – a Homeland official.
The Times, which obtained the warrant in question, is preparing legal action against what it considers a blatant First Amendment violation by both the federal government and the State of Maryland:
The [seized] documents, some which chronicled Hudson's sources and her work at the Times about problems inside the Homeland Security Department, were seized under a warrant to search for unregistered firearms and a “potato gun” suspected of belonging to her husband, Paul Flanagan, a Coast Guard employee. Mr. Flanagan has not been charged with any wrongdoing since the raid.This is simply another example of the federal government's contemporary penchant for criminalizing investigative journalism and attempting to chill the type of exposes which reveal government corruption and secret overreaches.
The warrant, obtained by the Times, offered no specific permission to seize reporting notes or files.
The Washington Times said Friday it is preparing legal action to fight what it called an unwarranted intrusion on the First Amendment.
The unrelenting prosecution of whistleblowers, cases such as that of The New York Times' James Risen, and predawn raids of investigative journalists are all cut from the same cloth.
And it's a cloth that is frayed, a cloth from which those press freedoms ingrained in the Constitution are being pulled loose, one thread at a time.
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, just out from Oneworld Publications.
As some have noted, the Associated Press article (linked in the diary) details how agents returned the documents to Hudson at a later date, and indicates officials are implying that the seizure was a 'mistake.'
Whether or not this is an accurate portrayal is unclear. What's not unclear: that agents seized an investigative journalists' papers without a warrant to do so.