The 26-year-old former Marine detained for making controversial Facebook posts is back home at last. However, the fight to figure out exactly what happened -- and what may be happening all across the country -- has just begun.
Brandon Raub was scooped up in Richmond, Va. by federal and local law enforcement officials on Aug. 16 for making anti-government Facebook posts referring to "revolution" and statements that questioned the official story behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, said John Whitehead, Raub's lead attorney and president of the Rutherford Institute. He was then sentenced to up to 30 days in a psychiatric facility on Aug. 20 -- no trial, no arrest warrant, no charges filed. He was finally released on Thursday.
"They are doing it under a law in Virginia, a civil commitment law" Whitehead told TheBlaze in an exclusive interview. And there are similar laws in other states all over the country, he explained. According to Va. Code § 37.2-808, the statute in question, a person can be civilly committed if a magistrate judge has probable cause that any person:
- Has a mental illness and that there exists a substantial likelihood that, as a result of mental illness, the person will, in the near future, (a) cause serious physical harm to himself or others as evidenced by recent behavior causing, attempting, or threatening harm and other relevant information, if any, or (b) suffer serious harm due to his lack of capacity to protect himself from harm or to provide for his basic human needs.
- Is in need of hospitalization or treatment, and (iii) is unwilling to volunteer or incapable of volunteering for hospitalization or treatment. Any emergency custody order entered pursuant to this section shall provide for the disclosure of medical records pursuant to § 37.2-804.2. This subsection shall not preclude any other disclosures as required or permitted by law.
Whitehead doesn't believe his client meets any of the criteria needed for a civil commitment and argues Raub is anything but "mentally ill." He says they haven't seen the psychiatric institute's so-called "evaluations" but his legal team plans on having Raub evaluated by an independent psychiatrist from the University of Virginia.
Part of a Bigger Problem?
The incident raises a larger question: Is Raub's case -- whether you agree with his positions or not -- cause for greater concern? Whitehead says yes.
Every year in Virginia, more than 20,000 people are detained for civil commitment and whisked away just like Raub, the attorney said. In fact, in Chesterfield County, where Raub was taken from his home, there have been 20 civil commitments in the past month alone, he added.
The civil commitment statistics are confirmed by documents found on the Virginia Supreme Court's website. You can read it here (page 36, paragraph 1). The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services did not respond to TheBlaze's request for comment in time for this report. However, TheBlaze is working to get some clarification on whether the 20,000 figure is up or down from previous years or if the number is a normal average as well as some state-by-state comparisons.
"I knew there were civil commitments but I thought they were rare," Whitehead told TheBlaze. "There has to be something more here than meets the eye. It doesn't make any sense."
Whitehead continued: "I doubt that most of these people are dangerous. Because if there are 20,000 plus crazy people that need to be taken away by police in Virginia each year, then we are facing a national epidemic that should be on the front page of every newspaper and it isn't. No one even knows about it, that's the point."
He raises a good point. Obviously, there are instances where local and federal law enforcement would be justified in executing a civil detainment order. For example, if someone is threatening to commit a mass shooting or making threats against someone's life, the police are obligated to intervene. And they would be able to because they would have probable cause.
"If someone goes on Facebook with a gun and does a video like that crazy guy did at Virginia tech and said he's going to shoot somebody, sure the police should arrive and they would have probable cause to arrest him," the constitutional lawyer explained.
But he says Raub made no terrorist-like threats or statements. However, he admitted that Raub posted some controversial song lyrics and 9/11 "truther" statements, but added that there's no law against that.
"The government infiltrated his private Facebook group. They were playing a game called "Dear Illuminati," they were quoting song lyrics and saying other silly things -- he's 26 years old."
Take a look at all of Raub's Facebook posts here and decide for yourself whether the police, Secret Service and FBI acted appropriately.
Some of his posts include:
- "The revolution is upon us"
- "Sharpen my axe, I'm here to sever heads" (From Canadian rap song)
- Remarks promoting the 9/11 "truther" argument
When asked how many of the 20,000 plus civil commitments each year in Virginia may be legitimate versus how many are unjustified, Whitehead said it's too soon to tell.
"We are investigating it right now. We just learned that yesterday and announced it on [Glenn Beck's] show," he said.
However, that again raises the question: If there really are more than 20,000 civil commitments in Virginia each year alone and each one is legitimate and justified as the government will likely argue, wouldn't that mean that there is a national epidemic of mental illness in the state, if not the entire country?
"It should be something that Congress should be concerned about and the president," Whitehead said. "And obviously, they are not."
Even if we speculate that the remaining 49 states in the U.S. see only 5,000 civil commitments a year -- 15,000 less than Virginia -- we are still talking about roughly 265,000 cases of civil commitment each year in the U.S., which would arguably be a situation in need of immediate attention by the nation's lawmakers.
He also reiterated that the Rutherford Institute is getting flooded with calls, many of them from military veterans, who say they have been victims of involuntary civil commitments like Raub: "What I'm getting from veterans is, they say they are getting picked up by the FBI, mainly for 9/11 'truther' statements."
While believing that the U.S. government intentionally coordinated the attacks on the world trade center in 2001 is objectionable, this is still America and even those we disagree with have the right to free speech under the U.S. Constitution. That's arguably why the nation's founders made it Amendment number one.
And that's the point Glenn Beck made on radio on Friday:
Beck raises the valid point that Occupy Wall Street protestors and organizers regularly call for the overthrow of the U.S. government and revolution, which the host calls "treason." Yet, there aren't any reported cases of federal agents snatching an Occupier up in the middle of the night. While Raub is quoting rap songs, there are some people that are literally calling for a violent uprising here in the United States, but federal authorities are seemingly silent on those people..
The Constitution also comes into play regarding the way Raub was arrested by police, said Whitehead.
"Before the police arrive and put their hands on you, they are supposed to have, under the Fourth Amendment, credible evidence that you are doing something illegal," he said. "In the Brandon Raub situation, they told him he had committed no crime, they're not charging him with any crime. In fact, the day they took him in they said 'well, we're not charging this guy with any crime, it's just his Facebook Posts."
"This is exactly what happened in the old Soviet Union and Nazi Germany -- same scenario," Whitehead added. "It's Orwellian. Here you are picked up in the middle of the night by police taken to a mental institution and they say, well you are going to be here, so you want to do it voluntarily here or involuntarily."
And that's exactly what he argues happened to his client.
After initially taking him to the police station, police then transported Raub to a psychiatric facility in Salem, Va. There, Whitehead explained, officials said he could do things the easy way, and voluntarily commit himself, or the hard way and be involuntarily committed. Raub chose the latter, saying he doesn't belong in a psych ward and was then subjected to psychiatric evaluation over the next several days, his attorney says.
But that was just the beginning of Raub's nightmare in the facility. On Thursday prior to his release, Raub phoned his attorney and told him that one of the psychiatrists he had been seeing threatened to "brainwash" him and force him on medication if he didn't follow orders.
"He said, 'I'm really a little worried,'" Whitehead said, referring to Raub. "A psychiatrist came in and closed the door, pulled a chair up in front of him and said, 'OK buddy, I'm going to brainwash you… You listen to me and you do what I ask or I'm going to brainwash you or force medication on you.'"
And though Whitehead wouldn't provide the doctor's name to TheBlaze, he said they have it on file and are planning to include the doctor in question in their civil lawsuit on behalf of Raub. "We're investigating him," he said.
Still, Whitehead said the bigger issue are the thousands of people who are being "disappeared" every month in Virginia and across the nation.
"Who's disappearing? We don't know," he said. "I've been doing this for 40 years, the government covers their tracks and they don't tell the truth most of the time, unfortunately."
Brandon Raub was released on Thursday. He has not been charged with a crime, nor do the police plan to do so, according to his attorney.
Whitehead said his opinion is that the government is doing this nationally, rounding up people, while also directly targeting military veterans and other "right-wing extremists" according to a previous DHS report.
Watch Whitehead's interview with Glenn Beck on Thursday via GBTV, soon-to-become The BlazeTV, below:
- Attorney of Former Marine Detained for Facebook Posts Tells Beck: Psychiatrist Threatened to ‘Brainwash’ My Client With Meds
- Marine Sent to Psych Ward Over Facebook Posts Now Released... But Who Could Be Next?
- Protesters Rally for Former Marine and 9/11 Truther Detained Over Anti-Government Facebook Posts
This story has been updated with addition information.