Federal authorities and Maryland state police conducted a suspicious Aug. 6 raid on the home of former investigative journalist Audrey Hudson and her husband, Paul Flanagan, according to The Washington Times.
Authorities told The Times the raid served as part of an illegal firearms investigation of Flanagan, a Coast Guard employee. But the couple and many others believe the warrant was used to target Hudson, who has written articles exposing Homeland Security’s arms scandals. Hudson is a former Washington Times reporter, and the newspaper is preparing a legal battle against what it calls “unwarranted intrusion on the First Amendment.”
During the search, Coast Guard investigator Miguel Bosch, formerly of the Federal Marshal Service, asked Hudson if she was the same woman who wrote “the air marshal stories” for The Times, Hudson told the newspaper. Hudson said she believes he was referring to a 2005 story she wrote exposing the agency for inflating the number of flights it claims to have guarded. According to the article:
“It was not until roughly a month later, Mrs. Hudson says, that she realized the agents had quietly seized five files from her private office — including handwritten and typed notes from interviews with numerous confidential sources related to her exclusive reporting on the air marshals service.”
The Coast Guard defended its actions, telling The Times it had legitimate suspicion that Flanagan had illegal firearms. The search warrant, obtained by The Times, noted that Flanagan’s record has a 1985 conviction for resisting arrest and a 1996 arrest for having a handgun in his vehicle. It also said that earlier this year, the U.S. Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives had looked into whether Flanagan bought “possible machine gun parts from a Swedish national.” The search warrant said Flanagan was “evasive” during when questioned by Coast Guard officials prior to the search, according to The Times.
“Obviously, the warrant is about a gun, nothing about reporters notes,” David Fischer, a private attorney contacted by Hudson and Flanagan, told The Times. “It would be a blatant constitutional violation to take that stuff if the search warrant didn’t specifically say so.”
Agents confiscated a few small guns belonging to Hudson, even though she legally registered them, because Flanagan’s prior resisting arrest conviction meant she couldn’t legally possess them, Hudson said the agents told her. Hudson told The Times that Bosch later called and told her that agents had to make sure some documents confiscated in the raid were legally released under the Freedom of Information Act. The papers were later returned to her, The Times reported.