Be Very Afraid If You Bash Obama On Facebook
Arrested without charges, detained for mental evaluation.
Rejecting concerns over government suppression of dissident speech as “far-fetched,” a federal court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by The Rutherford Institute on behalf of a decorated Marine who was arrested by a swarm of FBI, Secret Service agents and local police and forcibly detained in a psychiatric ward for a week because of controversial song lyrics and political views posted on his Facebook page.
Advocating for free speech and the right to be free from wrongful arrest, Institute attorneys had filed the civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Marine veteran Brandon Raub, alleging that his seizure and detention were the result of a federal government program code-named “Operation Vigilant Eagle” that involves the systematic surveillance of military veterans who express views critical of the government. The complaint alleged that the attempt to label Raub as “mentally ill” and his subsequent involuntary commitment, clear violations of his rights under the U.S. Constitution’s First and Fourth Amendments, was a pretext designed to silence speech critical of the government. No decision has yet been made about an appeal.
“What may sound far-fetched to the courts is a grim reality to Americans who are daily being targeted for daring to exercise their constitutional rights to speak their minds, worship as they please, criticize the government, defend themselves and their families against over-reaching government surveillance and heavy-handed police tactics,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. “Ultimately, Brandon Raub’s case tests our tolerance for free speech and those dissidents who keep the First Amendment relevant, because if we cannot proclaim our feelings about the government, no matter how controversial–on our clothing, or to passersby, or to the users of the world wide web–then the First Amendment really has become an exercise in futility.”
On August 16, 2012, Chesterfield police, Secret Service and FBI agents arrived at Brandon Raub’s home, asking to speak with him about his Facebook posts. Like many Facebook users, Raub, a Marine who has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, uses his Facebook page to post song lyrics and air his political opinions. Without providing any explanation, levying any charges against Raub or reading him his rights, law enforcement officials handcuffed Raub and transported him to police headquarters, then to John Randolph Medical Center, where he was held against his will. In a hearing on Aug. 20, government officials pointed to Raub’s Facebook posts as the reason for his incarceration. While Raub stated that the Facebook posts were being read out of context, a Special Justice ordered Raub be held up to 30 more days for psychological evaluation and treatment. In coming to Raub’s aid, Institute attorneys challenged the government’s actions as procedurally improper, legally unjustified, and in violation of Raub’s First Amendment rights.
On Aug. 23, Circuit Court Judge Allan Sharrett ordered Raub’s immediate release, stating that the government’s case was “so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy.” Rutherford Institute attorneys filed suit in May 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to acknowledge the harm done to Raub and to rectify the violation of his First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Attorneys Anthony Troy of Eckert Seamens and William H. Hurd and Stephen C. Piepgrass of Troutman Sanders LLP in Richmond are assisting The Rutherford Institute in bringing the lawsuit.
A federal court has dismissed a civil rights lawsuit filed by The Rutherford Institute on behalf of a decorated Marine veteran from Virginia. U.S District Judge Henry Hudson called Brandon Raub’s assertion that police, the FBI and the Secret Service were involved in suppressing his dissident speech “far-fetched.”
In August, 2012 uniformed county police officers showed up at Brandon Raub’s front door. They introduced Raub to several unidentified agents of the Secret Service and FBI who spoke with him concerning his anti-government Facebook posts. A few minutes later, according to the August, 2013 complaint, one of the federal agents telephoned a Chesterfield County licensed psychotherapist to discuss the situation. The therapist, without observing, meeting or evaluating Raub, recommended that he be taken into custody. Raub was subsequently handcuffed, arrested and medically cleared before being driven to a psych hospital over a hundred miles away from his home.
A circuit court judge later dismissed the petition for involuntary commitment on the grounds that it was “so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case of controversy.”
But on February 28, 2014 Judge Hudson effectively negated the allegations in the civil complaint that Raub had been a target of systematic surveillance under a Department of Homeland Security program named Operation Vigilant Eagle. What about the therapist who gave statements that prompted Raub’s arrest? Also let off the hook.
Interesting to note that Brandon Raub’s week long detention at a mental health facility in August 2012 happened at the same time one of the Boston marathon bombers was posting jihadist videos on his YouTube page. Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been interviewed by the FBI in 2011 and was definitely on their radar, but somehow law enforcement officers never made it to Tamerlan’s apartment to charge him and take him into custody for his political viewpoints.
The feds must have overlooked the multiple jihadi videos Tamerlan had posted and endorsed in the months leading up to the murders. One video features the preaching of Abd al-Hamid al-Juhani, who was an assistant to an al Qaeda scholar in Chechnya, and another features Feiz Mohammad, an extremist Salafi Lebanese preacher based in Australia. Four months ago, Tamerlan also “liked” a well-produced video featuring the black flags of Khorasan, a significant jihadist theme, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Neither Tamerlan nor his Jihadist brother were ever handcuffed, arrested or detained in a psychiatric hospital prior to the bombing.
Ditto for Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, aka Carlos Bledsoe. On April 9, 2009 the “practicing Muslim” shot up a an Army-navy recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas killing Private William Long and severely injuring Private Quinton Ezeagwula. Bledsoe had a history of brushes with the law before he converted to Islam in 2004 at the age of nineteen. In 2007, he went to Yemen where he “embraced the need for religiously-inspired violence.”
Deported back to the United States in 2009, Bledsoe moved to Little Rock. Later, after his arrest for the terrorist attack at the recruiting station, Bledsoe corroborated other accounts that he had been interviewed by the FBI while in Yemen. Again, Bledsoe was not arrested, handcuffed or taken into custody under issue of a Temporary Detention Order to determine whether he was “mentally ill” or a danger to himself or others, as was Brandon Raub.
In an online investigative analysis of Bledsoe’s case, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross explains why Muhammad was not arrested.
It’s difficult to take preventive action against a potential attacker like Muhammad even if authorities have strong information that he has been radicalized and poses a danger. Here, Muhammad had already come across the FBI’s radar, yet if they had moved to arrest him prior to the attack, federal authorities most likely would have lacked a compelling criminal case.
Ross’s observation is interesting, knowing that the government clearly overstepped its bounds and violated Raub’s rights in order “to take preventive action” but allowed Muhammad to go scot free.
In a third incident of a radical extremist whose speech did not lead to a knock at the front door of his home by federal agents and the police is a Department of Homeland Security employee. Ayo Kimathi, a Black Nationalist making over $100,000 a year, who called for the mass killing of whites and the “ethnic cleaning” of “black-skinned Uncle Tom race traitors” on his website. “The latter group includes President Obama (“a treasonous mulatto scum dweller”), Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Rev. Al Sharpton, Lil Wayne, among others.”
When Ayo’s direct threats against Obama, white people and other public figures came to light, he was put on paid administrative leave. But not until December 6, 2013, four months later, was Ayo fired from his job at Immigration and Customs Enforcement. To date, he has not been arrested, handcuffed or hauled off to a mental health facility.
If Brandon Raub were a black militant and/or Muslim and had added a few “Allahu Akbar’s” on his Facebook posts, government officials evidently would have left him alone. If he were liberal, progressive, socialist and Democrat he apparently would have been protected under the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
So the lesson from the Raub case is that conservatives of all colors, right-wing veterans, gun-rights advocates, traditional family supporters, tea party organizations and schoolchildren wearing pro-America T-shirts, to name a few, no longer enjoy the guaranteed rights to speak, assemble, or post views critical of their government on social media without fear of retribution.
Written by M. Catharine Evans.