Photo of a spud gun or potato launcher. Armed government agents looking for a potato launcher and other gun parts seized legally-registered guns and the confidential files of an investigative reporter who has been reporting on problems in The Department of Homeland Security.
A former Washington Times employee, Audrey Hudson, 50, who is an award-winning investigative reporter, was forced to give up her private files including records she obtained with a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request under a warrant aimed at a completely unrelated gun case.
Armed federal agents and the Maryland state police dressed in full body armor demanded entry into the Hudson home in the early morning hours and collected her legally-registered guns. The warrant named a potato launcher (a spud gun that shoots off potatoes for hobby purposes) which was not found.
Paul Hudson, 54, is a Coast Guard employee who was supposedly the subject of the armed intrusion. He has not been charged with a crime but has a police record from nearly thirty years ago for illegal possession of firearms. Agents claim he might have tried to illegally obtain a machine gun part.
The agents said they wanted his potato launcher which he said he did not have but they did not collect a novelty item called a ‘golf ball launcher’ which he did have. Her husband collects novelty items.
However, the concern is that the agents overstepped their bounds in seizing the reporter’s records since the records had nothing to do with the case. One of the seizing agencies is the subject of her exposés – The Department of Homeland Security – and they now have her lists of confidential sources. Documents seized included her notes listing her sources.
While in the Hudson house, the agents asked if she was the same ‘Audrey Hudson’ who wrote the ‘air marshall stories’ at the Washington Times to which she answered in the affirmative.
The warrant did not give permission to seize her files.
Times Editor John Solomon said. “This violates the very premise of a free press, and it raises additional concerns when one of the seizing agencies was a frequent target of the reporter’s work.
“Homeland’s conduct in seizing privileged reporters notes and Freedom of Information Act documents raises serious Fourth Amendment issues, and our lawyers are preparing an appropriate legal response,” he said.
Without realizing it until a month later, Mrs. Hudson said the agents also seized five private files from her office which included lists of confidential sources. Again, no reference to these documents was made by a judge.
The Times is preparing legal action.
The US Coast Guard maintains it did nothing wrong and was merely checking to make sure the documents were FOIA-able.
This case is reminiscent of the AP and James Rosen cases. So much for Mr. Obama’s and Eric Holder’s promises.
Read the story at the Washington Times.