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Government The Media

Feds Confiscate Investigative Reporter's Confidential Files During Raid 622

Posted by Soulskill
from the freedom-of-the-press-void-where-prohibited dept.
schwit1 writes "Using a warrant to search for guns, Homeland security officers and Maryland police confiscated a journalist's confidential files. The reporter had written a series of articles critical of the TSA. It appears that the raid was specifically designed to get her files, which contain identifying information about her sources in the TSA. '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 [the reporter] wrote in a summary about the raid provided to The Daily Caller. 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 [the investigator heading the raid] 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. Asked how many sources she thinks may have been exposed, Hudson said: 'A lot. More than one. There were a lot of names in those files. This guy basically came in here and took my anonymous sources and turned them over — took my whistleblowers — and turned it over to the agency they were blowing the whistle on,' Hudson said. 'And these guys still work there.'"
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Feds Confiscate Investigative Reporter's Confidential Files During Raid

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  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:20PM (#45239841)

    I donâ(TM)t suppose this critical file of confidential sources and interview information was encrypted?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:21PM (#45239847)

    '"Legitimate" for me to have my own notes?' she said incredulously on Wednesday.

    Depends, how large are these constitution free border zones again?

  • by themushroom (197365) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:21PM (#45239855) Homepage

    A raid to steal a reporter's notes (verses a Watergate sneak-theft)? That crosses the line into jackboot thuggery.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:21PM (#45239857)

    imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever.

  • Media (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thestudio_bob (894258) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:23PM (#45239877)

    Our government began abusing other countries and the media ignored it.
    Our government began abusing it's citizens and the media ignored it.
    Our government began abusing the media...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:24PM (#45239895)

    This looks to be well outside of the intent of the law, if not outside the reach of the national security letter, but the writing's been on the wall for a while now that even this government is out of control and can no longer be trusted at all, with any information, whatsoever.

    Better to have off-site backups and have everything encrypted. Journalists critical of any government anywhere, take heed.

  • by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:28PM (#45239929)

    Spoiler Alert: It won't.

  • by MysteriousPreacher (702266) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:29PM (#45239951) Journal

    Doesn't seem that way.

    I mean, seriously? What kind of journalist, investigating malfeasance by federal agencies, would have the names of her sources in plain text? Sounds like someone on the local newspaper who would ordinarily be writing the horoscopes and gardening news.

  • by harvestsun (2948641) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:29PM (#45239957)
    1. The issue is not that she lost her information, it's that her confidential anonymous sources have now been potentially revealed to the agency they were blowing the whistle on.
    2. Where can you hide your stuff that law enforcement cannot find it if they try hard enough?
    3. The government can find any excuse to raid you if they want (in this case, because in 1986 her husband was found guilty of resisting arrest). And once they do find an excuse, what can you do when an elite, armored team shows up at your doorstep?

    There is nothing you as an individual can do to retaliate against this, other than speaking out (as she is doing). If you really want to prevent this from happening, choose to live somewhere else, or just be a nice little citizen and never try to rock the boat.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:30PM (#45239969)

    How can a warrant to search for guns be turned into let me take these files too? Have we lost all control over law enforcement that they can now do anything that they want?

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:31PM (#45239983) Homepage Journal

    Doesn't seem that way.

    I mean, seriously? What kind of journalist, investigating malfeasance by federal agencies, would have the names of her sources in plain text?

    The kind who isn't a computer expert.

    I know it's hard to do considering the crowd here, but try and keep in mind - most people, journalists included, barely even know what encryption is, let alone how to use it properly.

    Regardless, her Constitutional rights should have negated any need for encrypting her work. That is what we should take away from this.

  • by themushroom (197365) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:33PM (#45240003) Homepage

    What imaginary guns were they looking for? Where'd the intell saying there were imaginary guns come from?

  • by Nerdfest (867930) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:34PM (#45240011)

    The kind that isn't aware that she lives in a police state. You can continue to delude yourselves if you like, but it's pretty clear at this point that that's what the US has become. It's no longer a matter of 'if this continues'; it's here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:35PM (#45240037)

    Were this the previous administration (Bush) using jackbooted tactics like this there would be a huge uproar in the US press and public. Why do they tolerate it now? It's just as dangerous to freedom, and to people's rights and a free press as it would have been 8 years go.

  • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:36PM (#45240041) Homepage

    The irony of getting a warrant to raid a jornalist for "guns".....

    But hey, a judge signed it... so it must be legit.

  • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s.petry (762400) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:36PM (#45240051)

    I mean, seriously? What kind of journalist, investigating malfeasance by federal agencies, would have the names of her sources in plain text? Sounds like someone on the local newspaper who would ordinarily be writing the horoscopes and gardening news.

    Wait a minute! You are implying it's the Journalists fault and not the Government's fault who illegally confiscated her materials? Either that or you are diverting the argument from the Government Employees breaking the law.

    You should be ranting and raving to get Government Employees people fired and put in jail for breaking the law, not complaining about the journalists.

    Are you happy that your tax dollars were just spent in illegal activities? Just not care as long as it's not you getting fucked?

  • by dlt074 (548126) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:37PM (#45240057)

    no, that's just when you do raids. your target is more likely to be asleep or very tired waiting up for you all night. simple military tactics. welcome to the police state and a Constitution free US of A.

  • by goathumper (1284632) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:39PM (#45240083)

    At this point, the best defense is a good offense. They know by now their identities are compromised to their employer, so whatever they said that could be construed to be negative against the TSA will be used against them. Otherwise, it's just a waiting game to find out how much harassment and attrition will be leveled against them to force them to resign, if not downright fire them.

    Except if they go public with it. In unison. Loudly. Right now.

    Turn the tables. Then again, that approach will be heavily dependent on how the media will cover it, and what the spinsters have to say. Yes - there are risks. Yes - these are probably people with families and commitments and responsibilities that would be at risk. Then again, as of this raid, they already are.

    In my mind, this was a stupid move by the establishment. The whistleblowers now have nothing to lose. Absolutely nothing.

  • by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:42PM (#45240129) Homepage

    This sucks. And I'm interested to see the follow up on it. But if you think the US is a police state, then you don't know what a police state is.

    This reporter was writing articles exposing government misconduct, and she's a free woman who is publicizing her story on the internet. That doesn't happen in a police state.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:43PM (#45240149) Homepage

    I sure hope to hell that they are teaching the basics of encryption in journalism classes these days....

  • by fche (36607) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:49PM (#45240215)

    If one can expect a SWAT raid for exercising one's freedoms, the exact details of the oppression are insignificant.

  • by spire3661 (1038968) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:49PM (#45240217) Journal
    Its an increasingly relevant part of their job NOW, TODAY. If you are a journalist investigating sensitive stuff, and you dont know how to encrypt, you are an utter failure and should find a new line of work.
  • by Nerdfest (867930) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:50PM (#45240225)

    You may want to look up "Free speech zones", "Constitution free zones", and VIPR Teams. You may want to read up on what the NSA is doing. I've got a pretty good idea of what a police state is. If you get the equivalent of "papers please" when driving through your own country, you're pretty much there and raiding journalists puts it over the top. You may think that she needs to be thrown in jail for that to be the case, but the chilling effect on both journalists and whistleblowers will be served just fine by the raid alone.

  • felony offense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by neghvar1 (1705616) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:52PM (#45240257)
    Lying on an affidavit is perjury and gathering evidence is limited to what the warrant states. Other evidence outside the scope of the warrant requires another warrant before it can be taken. Otherwise that evidence is inadmissible.
  • by paiute (550198) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:54PM (#45240275)

    The difference is in prior presidencies, the people doing this crap were fired, or arrested all the way up to the president resigning. Meanwhile, this joker keeps blaming everyone else and playing his golf.

    Seriously? Did you just beam in?

  • by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:55PM (#45240307)

    Were this the previous administration (Bush) using jackbooted tactics like this there would be a huge uproar in the US press and public. Why do they tolerate it now? It's just as dangerous to freedom, and to people's rights and a free press as it would have been 8 years go.

    I'm sorry to say that you are wrong. Bush invented things like "Free Speech Zones" and while he wasn't the first executive to attempt to control the press, he was outstandingly successful. I don't recall hearing the term "embedded" (a/k/a captive) reporter in pre-Bush military campaigns and the whole Patriot Act thing got passed without even a squeak.

    That's what I hate about Obama. Hope and Change? No Hope! It's just Bush continued with a smoother tongue and a suntan.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:57PM (#45240323) Homepage Journal

    Encryption per se doesn't even need to come in to this. Just don't have the real names visible on the documents. Come up with nicknames and never use the real names.

    That's what really struck me about this: She knew she was investigating something that certain, powerful people in government would not like her to investigate, yet didn't even have the good sense to use aliases for her sources?

    Not that it excuses the government for flagrantly violating her rights, but shit, man, you don't have to make it easy for them!

  • by idontgno (624372) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:57PM (#45240327) Journal

    "Because."

    And also, "Just because."

    And finally, "Do you want some of this too? If not, shut up, mind your own business, and move along, Citizen."

  • by c-A-d (77980) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:58PM (#45240343) Homepage

    It's a bit sad when "Russia Today" is the preferred place to go when you are a whistleblower.

  • Mod parent up. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday October 25, 2013 @06:02PM (#45240417)

    If one can expect a SWAT raid for exercising one's freedoms, the exact details of the oppression are insignificant.

    And "exercising one's freedoms" doesn't convey the complete scenario.

    She was REPORTING on LIES that GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES were telling.

    So she is treated the same as if she was holding innocent children hostage at gunpoint.

    We are not in a "police state" yet. But tactics such as that for "crimes" that are not crimes WITHOUT REPERCUSSIONS FOR WHOMEVER AUTHORIZED IT do blur the distinction.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 25, 2013 @06:06PM (#45240463)

    Hey America! How's your police state working for you so far?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 25, 2013 @06:11PM (#45240515)

    Wrong question. The correct question follows: Is there a law that allows for the seizure of journalistic notes when the warrant was for guns?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 25, 2013 @06:15PM (#45240557)
    They don't really need encryption. I mean think about it - we just found out who "Deep Throat" (from the Water Gate days) was about a year or two ago. The files the reporter had were all paper. They could have been taken any time. But they didn't identify anyone. They called the guy "Deep Throat". Any connection of that pseudonym to a real name was in the reporter's head. Why would this reporter be more cavalier with her sources? If she can't remember the names, she can always keep paper notes that are obfuscated in her purse connecting the pseudonyms to the names. This was just plain, "it can't happen to me" complacency on the part of the reporter. She wasn't following practices that were standard years ago.
  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <.tms. .at. .infamous.net.> on Friday October 25, 2013 @06:23PM (#45240643) Homepage

    I very much doubt that a search warrant for guns prevents the police from taking files that very well might have to do with the purchase/maintenance/use of guns.

    Yes, actually, it does. If a warrant says "search and seize guns", and you find something that's not a gun, you don't get to mess with it.

    "[N]o Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." "Guns and whatever other stuff we find" is not a particular description.

    And I very much doubt that they need to read every single file they confiscate before they confiscate it to guarantee its relevance (as that would take months in some cases).

    Bullshit. A prima facie examination of a document is all that would be required.

  • by reboot246 (623534) on Friday October 25, 2013 @06:27PM (#45240699) Homepage
    Indeed.

    How about a country where they can arrest you and hold you indefinitely without a trial and without letting you talk to a lawyer? Like the U.S..

    How about a country where they can kill you with an armed drone without a trial? Like the U. S..

    How about a country where they spy on your every move and all of your communications? Like the U.S..

    Which country were we talking about? This is not the United States any more. I don't recognize it as the country I was born in 60 years ago.
  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday October 25, 2013 @06:43PM (#45240853)

    that very well might have to do with the purchase/maintenance/use of guns.

    When you start adding arbitrary meaning to your interpretation of the law, you can get away with anything. I mean, why don't they seize the house too, since it was obviously used to shelter said gun, and also seize bank accounts because the money to purchase the guns came from there.... etc, etc etc. THIS is what is happening all over America - bullshit interpretation of what you WANT the law to mean instead of what it actually means. On the part of cops, judges and prosecutors. Well, do enjoy the police state this has led to. I'm glad I don't live there.

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Friday October 25, 2013 @07:09PM (#45241087) Journal

    The interesting thing here is that being legally bared from owning or possessing a firearm is still not probable cause for a warrant. There had to be some evidence that a gun or ammunition was in the house as well as the resisting arrest charge being something that could bar your gun rights.

    Resisting arrest in most states is only a misdemeanor which usually doesn't remove your gun rights. Is it possible that not only the premise for the warrant was unconstitutional but the premise for the premise was as well?

    Perhaps the NSA intercepted a conversation with her and her mom talking about how her husband loves his birthday present and is running around the kitchen shooting everything with the salad shooter [saladshooter.com] or something as the pretext for the search.

  • by runeghost (2509522) on Friday October 25, 2013 @08:03PM (#45241485)
    Perhaps she was operating under the (mistaken) assumption that she was living in a free country. America's "leaders" do talk about freedom and liberty a lot. Heck, the current President likes to go on about accountability and transparency too. Not all of the American public, particularly those who are part of the upper middle class (as journalists tend to be), have really internalized that their country is run by corrupt liars.
  • by harrkev (623093) <kfmsd@@@harrelsonfamily...org> on Friday October 25, 2013 @08:23PM (#45241639) Homepage

    Are you kidding? She just got a PhD from the school of hard knocks! She would be the first one to go so, since she just completely lost every last shred of her complacency.

  • by Bucc5062 (856482) <bucc5062@gmailCOUGAR.com minus cat> on Friday October 25, 2013 @08:40PM (#45241727)

    Hold on, she was the victim here. SHe doesn't need to do encryption because at one point thre was this thing called the constitution. You're making like a rape case. "Come on, she shouldn't have worn that dress, she was inviting it". No, the reporter was doing her job and whether she wrote on paper, plain text on a computer she had rights...and the Government raped them.

  • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Friday October 25, 2013 @08:43PM (#45241749) Journal

    Am I the only person in America who is not a felon, but who believes that convicted felons should be able to have guns AND vote once they've pay their dues (with prison, or whatever), just like regular non-felon folks are able to do?

  • by ATMAvatar (648864) on Friday October 25, 2013 @09:07PM (#45241897) Journal

    This is America.
    This is America under Obama.

    This is America under Bush.
    This is America under Clinton.
    ...and so on...

    If you really think that a particular party is responsible for this, I have a multi-million dollar inheritance I need help moving out of Nigeria, and I just need your bank account number to make the transfer.

  • by Smauler (915644) on Friday October 25, 2013 @09:35PM (#45242035)

    Hold on, she was the victim here. SHe doesn't need to do encryption because at one point thre was this thing called the constitution.

    Yes, she was the victim. However, there are ways of making yourself less likely to become a victim. This is what we are talking about.

    You're making like a rape case. "Come on, she shouldn't have worn that dress, she was inviting it".

    I personally think some irresponsible behaviour increases the likelihood of crimes happening to you. If I go in to a Chelsea pub just prior to a Chelsea/Tottenham game, and start mouthing off about how shit Chelsea are, and anyone who follows them is a braindead prawn sandwich eating Russian mafia financing twat, I'm quite likely to get a kicking. I'm still the victim there, but there were things that I could have done which might have decreased my likelihood of becoming a victim.

    Rape is rape, assault is assault. Someone putting themselves in a bad situation does not excuse or lessen the crime. I'll repeat that... doing something provocative does not excuse or lessen a crime if it is committed on you. However, knowing about these situations, and learning to avoid them helps them not happen to you. Knowing what triggers these crimes and talking about what triggers these crimes is _not_ blaming the victim. The blame is still entirely on the attacker.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 26, 2013 @01:58AM (#45243097)

    "Papers please" is pretty much normal behaviour for any job involving the police, all over the world.

    On the other hand, having a security service that puts the Stasi to shame (or would make them say "Well done, grandson" if they still existed), forcing people to go through humiliating security checkpoints at airport, and having a police force that is so heavily-armed that the average paramilitary death squad would be jealous are sure signs of a police state, together with abuses of power by those in charge (note that I'm not sure whether the president of the US is "still in charge" - Obama might just be a puppet at this point, whether he likes it or not).

  • by I'm New Around Here (1154723) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @09:27AM (#45244275)

    The surplus in the late 90's had more to do with the Republican congress not letting Clinton do much, than with Clinton's fiscal prowess.

    That, and the dot com bubble that was inflating tax revenues, which vanished when the bubble burst.

    But, go ahead and credit and blame the wrong parties for stuff.

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