MARYLAND — Federal agents staged a pre-dawn raid on the home of an award-winning investigative journalist, and walked away with hundreds of documents — including a top-secret list of government whistleblowers.
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Reporter Audrey Hudson, 50, has spent a career in journalism, once working for the Washington Times, then guiding her career into freelance reporting. The disturbing raid that she endured “shook her to the core” and made her question the security of Americans’ rights and freedoms under its current brand of government.
The first thing she remembers hearing on the morning of August 6th, 2013, was the sound of her dogs barking. It was approximately 4:30 a.m., it was dark outside, and she had been sleeping. Moments later, approximately seven gun-wielding men wearing body armor entered her home and began searching the personal belongings contained within.
Ostensibly, the federal investigators and Maryland State Police were raiding the home to determine if Hudson’s husband, Paul Flanagan, owned any weapons. Mr. Flanagan cannot legally be armed, as he has a record from the mid-1980s of breaking gun control laws; subsequently placing him among the growing list of Americans suffering under lifelong infringement of their inalienable rights. Police justified the 2013 raid by claiming that they suspected that he might have owned a “potato gun.”
No guns were recovered from the home, and Mr. Flanagan was not charged with any crimes. Yet investigators took their time to examine his wife’s personal documents.
Since Mr. Flanagan was an employee of the U.S. Coast Guard, that agency — under the Department of Homeland Security — was present during the raid.
One federal agent, USCG investigator Miguel Bosch, began asking whether Ms. Hudson was the same “Audrey Hudson” who had written “the Air Marshal stories” for The Washington Times. The stories he was remembering was a series of articles that Ms. Hudson wrote in the mid-2000s exposing holes in the Air Marshal program. Of course, Mr. Bosch — a former Air Marshal — surely knew whose home he had conspired to enter.
“I now know why he [Miguel Bosch] was spending so much time in my upstairs office,” Ms. Hudson later remembered. “They had pulled out every box from my closet.”
Following the raid, it became clear that the agents were rooting through her private files related to her journalism work. Among the boxes were handwritten notes and lists explicitly naming the whistleblowers who had helped her expose problems in the federal government. These individuals had spoke under conditions of anonymity to protect themselves from retaliation. Yet, using a warrant that expressly stated “guns” as the reason for the search, Ms. Hudson’s private documents were carted away and placed into the hands of the federal government.
Judging from the way investigators conducted the search, the documents seemed to have been more important to them than the guns that they supposedly sought.
“They tore my office apart more than any other room in my house,” she told the Washington Times.
“Horrified doesn’t even begin to describe — but this shook me to my core, I was almost paralyzed,” Hudson told The Blaze. “I never in my wildest dreams thought something like that could happen in this country.”
Ms. Hudson expressed fear that this type of government tactic could place a chilling effect on those who might come forward in the future to expose government corruption.
“I feel sick to my stomach everyday since the incident,” Hudson said. “It’s not just about what happened to me – it’s about our nation, our rights and freedom. How can we be the watchdogs when our government has now crossed the line. Who’s going to trust us when we can’t protect our sources?”
“They came into my house, they stole my notes, they’ve exposed my sources,” she explained. “It was clearly intimidation. We can’t just have the government coming into your house on a minor warrant and walking out with whatever files they please.”
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Audrey Hudson went on to sue the federal government over the improper seizure of her documents — “confidential notes, draft articles, and other newsgathering materials.”
In late September, 2014, she walked away with a victory of sorts. The Department of Homeland Security agreed to pay her a paltry $50,000 and promised not to do it again. The agency also paid $25,000 to the Washington Times.
The settlement payments “cover just a fraction of the legal bills we accrued,” said Larry Beasley, the president and CEO of the Washington Times.
While it was an economic loss for the plaintiffs, Ms. Hudson and the Times view it as a victory for journalists. After all, DHS promised that it would review the Privacy Protection Act. And she was assured that agents did not make any copies of her whistleblower information.
However, the settlement was so small — less than the annual salary of one agent — that it would not even be noticeable to the behemoth agency. And its promises are hollow.
There have been no reports of any accountability on the part of the agents that participated in the criminal behavior. Special Agent Miguel Bosch remains employed with the Coast Guard Investigative Service and neither he, nor any of his cohorts in the raid, have been fired or criminally charged after stealing Ms. Hudson’s documents.
Call for the firing and prosecution of Special Agent Miguel Bosch.
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