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Government The Media

Feds Confiscate Investigative Reporter's Confidential Files During Raid 622

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?

  • USA (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jmc23 ( 2353706 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:20PM (#45239843) Journal
    Leader of the free world!!!
  • 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 sycodon ( 149926 )

      The "Media" won't care until they raid ABCCBSMSNBCCNN news headquarters. Then, it will be as if the world was ending.

  • by imnes ( 605429 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:24PM (#45239891)
    I guess we'll get to see if the whistleblower protection program actually works. []

  • 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.

  • Nazi police state (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MRe_nl ( 306212 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:26PM (#45239917)

    "Hitler's police state worked on the rule that if you said nothing, no harm, could come to you. If you had doubts about the way the country was going, you kept them to yourself - or paid the price". []

  • 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 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 SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @06:30PM (#45240737)

        Bush didn't invent the Free Speech Zone. It was actually the democrats who first did that, at their 1988 convention. Bush is associated with the zones because he used them at far more events than any previous president, and under him the Secret Service took a much more active role in establishing the zones and in making sure the protesters were kept in their designated place. During his time the Secret Service also adopted a less politically neutral role in managing the protests - rather than directing all activists into free speech zones they would work to place pro-Bush campaigners in the most visible areas of crowds ahead of time, preemptively denying the prime territory to anti-Bush campaigners and making them easier to separate and shunt off to the FSZ safely out of view of any cameras.

        But he didn't invent them. No need to falsely attribute that part to him: The things he actually did do are quite damning enough.

  • 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 mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:40PM (#45240095)

    How many constitutionally guaranteed rights can the DHS violate with a single action? Quite a few it turns out. . .

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:42PM (#45240125)

    what the REAL threat to American freedom is: government bureaucrats desperately wanting to stay in power hooking up with jackbooted thugs cloaked in the mantle of the state, stomping all over Liberty.

    • A tyrant is someone who can sign the death warrants for a thousand people without a second thought.

      A bureaucrat is someone who, when told they've been reprieved, will insist on properly-completed individual documents for each person.

  • Time to leave (Score:5, Interesting)

    by comrade1 ( 748430 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:45PM (#45240165)
    If you have desirable skills, it's time to leave the u.s. If you can't leave then move your data and services outside the u.s. I don't mean to godwin, but I spent most of my life wondering when I would have left Germany if I lived there during the rise of the Nazis, and how I can apply this to my own life. Two of my great-grandparents fled and lost some modest lands, and one of my grandfather's land was invaded by the Germans. He went back to fight the Germans while in the u.s. army. I often wondered at what point my great-grandparents decided it was time to give up and leave Germany. They left a comfortable aristocratic life and became immigrants in the u.s., owning a neighborhood grocery store. They made a new and somewhat comfortable life for themselves in the u.s. but gave up more to leave. About 6 years ago I decided to leave the u.s. and move to Switzerland, one of the last bastions of freedom in the West. I was lucky - it's difficult to get a work permit here, and will be even more difficult after the elections coming up. So, if you can, just leave. Don't be a cog in the evil that the u.s. has become. If you can't leave, then do what you can to not support it.
  • by sfm ( 195458 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:51PM (#45240237)

    A warrant should be very specific about what items are to be siezed. If the warrant was for guns, how does that get extended to files ?

  • 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 Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      What evidence? It's not like any crime has been committed by the reporter, so why would there even be a trial? You're missing the entire point of the "raid". They can even say "I'm sorry" now and give the stuff back. Photocopies and scans of relevant documents are surely sitting on the desk of the TSA supervisor already.
    • You still think the law is applied to agents of the state, acting in the state's interest? News flash: it doesn't. These agents are in zero danger of ever being held to account for their actions. And this isn't about siezing evidence - it's about silencing and intimidating someone criticizing the government, and finding out who the whistleblowers are, so they can also be intimidated or punished.
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @05:58PM (#45240347) Homepage Journal

    Not much longer.

  • by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @06:04PM (#45240439)

    If this is true, law enforcement (a) blatantly exceeded the scope of a lawful search warrant; and (b) used a search warrant as a pretext to seize material that they had no authority to seize.

    This is unusually bad. People need to lose their jobs for this.

    • by Zak3056 ( 69287 )

      If this is true, law enforcement (a) blatantly exceeded the scope of a lawful search warrant; and (b) used a search warrant as a pretext to seize material that they had no authority to seize.

      This is unusually bad. People need to lose their jobs for this.

      No, people need to be jailed for this.

  • This cannot be true (Score:5, Informative)

    by real gumby ( 11516 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @06:13PM (#45240541)

    I cannot believe that the Feds would do anything to hurt a whistleblower. After all, this text still appears (despite scurrilous reports to the contrary []) on the Obama/Biden campaign website: []

    • Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.

    The politician said it, I believe it, that settles it.

  • Some Salient Points (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @06:34PM (#45240771) Homepage

    Here are a few key points from the original story in The Daily Caller []:

    Warrant Basis:

    The document notes that her husband, Paul Flanagan, was found 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.

    Militarization of Police Angle:

    At about 4:30 a.m. on Aug. 6, Hudson said officers dressed in full body armor presented a search warrant to enter the home she shares on the bay with her husband. She estimates that at least seven officers took part in the raid.

    Document Seizure Justification:

    Diaz explained that the files were taken because they found official government papers, which Hudson had obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

    "During the course of the search, the CGIS agent discovered government documents labeled FOUO - For Official Use Only (FOUO) - and LES - Law Enforcement Sensitive. The files that contained these documents were cataloged on the search warrant inventory and taken from the premises," Diaz said.

    "The documents were reviewed with the source agency and determined to be obtained properly through the Freedom of Information Act," he said.

    Document Seizure Counterpoint:

    But Hudson doesn't buy the explanation: "That explains the one file they took but does not explain why they took four other files with my handwritten and typed interview notes with confidential sources, that I staked my reputation as a journalist to protect under the auspices of the First Amendment of the Constitution," she said.

    They Did Have Guns:

    During the raid, the officers also went after Hudson's three pistols and three long guns, which she obtained legally.

    "I'm a Kentucky girl," she said. "I come kitchen trained, and firearm ready. I grew up with guns and I've always been around guns."

    She Is A "Real" Reporter:

    Hudson has been a reporter in Washington, D.C. for nearly 15 years and was nominated twice by The Washington Times for the Pulitzer Prize. She is a freelancer for Newsmax and the Colorado Observer.

    Her Investigative Reporting:

    While at the Times, Hudson reported extensively on the air marshal program - specifically about whether Homeland Security officials had lied to Congress and reported protecting more flights than they really were. Using her sources inside the government, Hudson has also reported for years about possible terrorist "dry-runs" on airplanes.

    Unlike some other reporters whose sources have been targeted in recent years by the government, Hudson said none of the information she had was classified or given to her by someone who broke the law.

    "None of the documents were classified," she said. "There were no laws broken in me obtaining these files."

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10