DHS/Maryland raid confiscates DHS whistleblower data from reporter
posted at 2:41 pm on October 25, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
How did the DHS end up confiscating the files of a free-lance journalist that contains the identities of anonymous whistleblowers within its own agency? According to The Daily Caller’s Alex Pappas, DHS partnered with the Maryland state police on a bogus hunt for illegal firearms, and took the files from the search:
A veteran Washington D.C. investigative journalist says the Department of Homeland Security confiscated a stack of her confidential files during a raid of her home in August — leading her to fear that a number of her sources inside the federal government have now been exposed.
In an interview with The Daily Caller, journalist Audrey Hudson revealed that the Department of Homeland Security and Maryland State Police were involved in a predawn raid of her Shady Side, Md. home on Aug. 6. Hudson is a former Washington Times reporter and current freelance reporter.
A search warrant obtained by TheDC indicates that the August raid allowed law enforcement to search for firearms inside her home.
The document notes that her husband, Paul Flanagan, pleaded guilty in 1986 to resisting arrest in Prince George’s County. The warrant called for police to search the residence they share and seize all weapons and ammunition because he is prohibited under the law from possessing firearms.
But without Hudson’s knowledge, the agents also confiscated a batch of documents that contained information about sources inside the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, she said.
If true, this raises serious questions about abuse of power on the federal and state levels. Why would the Maryland state police confiscate files if they were looking for firearms? Hudson spent years covering the federal government while at the Washington Times, and especially DHS and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). During the search, one of the investigators — who worked for the Coast Guard — asked Hudson if she was the same person as the reporter who did extensive and critical reporting on the Federal Air Marshal Service, which exists within DHS as well. The investigator had previously worked in the FAMS, which should have alerted Hudson to at least another reason why the raid was taking place.
The files directly related to the FAMS, among other issues, which Hudson realized once police alerted her to their capture of those files:
“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 wrote in a summary about the raid provided to TheDC.
Recalling the experience during an interview this week, Hudson said: “When they called and told me about it, I just about had a heart attack.”
She said she asked Bosch why they took the files. He responded that they needed to run them by TSA to make sure it was “legitimate” for her to have them.
“‘Legitimate’ for me to have my own notes?” she said incredulously on Wednesday.
The firearms raid seems to be bogus, too, although the Maryland State Police told Pappas that her husband’s Facebook account showed evidence of illegal possession of firearms. Hudson’s husband has a conviction for resisting arrest from 1986, and that prevents him from owning firearms in Maryland. It doesn’t prevent Hudson herself from owning them, but the police confiscated her six legally-purchased firearms anyway. There seems to be no rational reason for seizing any paperwork at all, let alone her own notes; Hudson told Pappas that she had no classified documents at all in her possession, and at any rate the search warrant doesn’t cover that kind of confiscation.
Does the Maryland State Police usually troll Facebook to find illegal possession of firearms? Or is it more likely that DHS instigated this as a way to go after a longtime critic and reporter of the agency? This certainly doesn’t look like a coincidence, and perhaps Congress might want to look into what looks like a gross abuse of power to silence reporters and punish whistleblowers.