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Media law professionals say that if law enforcement officers wanted to review Ms. Hudson’s documents before the search, they should have done so by issuing a subpoena rather than a search warrant.

“A subpoena is a far greater method for investigators to use than a search warrant. It allows the journalist to search for legal counsel and turn over the evidence that is needed for the investigation at hand,” Mr. Soenksen said.

In a previous interview with The Times, Ms. Hudson said police “tore my office apart more than any other room in my house” and that investigators did not take documents that were unrelated to the TSA.

“I had a box full of [Department of Defense] notes,” she said. “They didn’t touch those.”

Ms. Hudson was not aware that the documents had been taken until she was contacted by police a month after the investigation and was asked to pick them up at the station.

In March 2005, Ms. Hudson authored a series of articles for The Times that were critical of the Homeland Security Department, the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Air Marshal Service.

Her report detailed how air marshals were protecting less than 10 percent of flights during the month of December 2004. The information published by The Times led to a congressional investigation of the Federal Air Marshal Service.

From 2005 to 2009, Ms. Hudson wrote several more investigative reports on operational deficiencies within the Federal Air Marshal Service, the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security.