Audrey Hudson’s husband had just left for work on August 6 when suddenly, her dog began barking. The nationally-known journalist walked over to the curtains and peeked outside to discover her Chesapeake Bay home was surrounded by law enforcement officers wearing full body armor.
The phone rang. It was her husband.
“I’m in the driveway,” he said. “The police are here. Open the door.”
And so began Hudson’s nightmare – held captive by armed agents of the U.S. Coast Guard, Maryland State Police and the Department of Homeland Security as they staged a pre-dawn raid in search of unregistered firearms and a “potato gun.”
But instead of taking the potato gun, agents seized unrelated government documents and notes from the former Washington Times journalist.
Agents took Hudson’s records during a search for guns and related items owned by her husband, a civilian Coast Guard employee. They also confiscated her legally registered firearms, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The armed agents held Hudson and her husband in the kitchen as they searched their home. At some point, one of the agents asked if she was the same person who had written a series of stories critical of the Federal Air Marshal program in the mid-2000s.
Hudson did indeed author those stories for The Washington Times.
“Those stories were embarrassing to the agency,” she told me.
It wasn’t until five weeks after the pre-dawn raid that Hudson realized agents had taken her private documents – documents that were not listed on the search warrant. At the time she was told that “miscellaneous documents” had been taken.
“I got a call from Homeland Security and they told me I could come pick up the documents,” she said. “The search warrant did not allow them to walk out with those documents. They clearly violated the search warrant.”
It appears the agents were on a fishing expedition. Hudson tells me her home is filled with boxes and boxes of files.
“But they only took five files – and all five had to do with the Federal Air Marshal stories,” she said.
The Coast Guard told The Associated Press its investigator was suspicious that the government documents in her possession were labeled “law enforcement sensitive.” However, they were returned after concluding Hudson had obtained them under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
But that doesn’t explain why the Coast Guard took her personal, handwritten notes. Nor does it explain why the Coast Guard accessed her personal Facebook page.