The New Progressive Target: Veterans

In 2009 the Department of Homeland Security through its Office of Intelligence and Analysis published a report titled “Rightwing Extremism.” The report states that ultra conservatives form that biggest threat to the security and safety to the United States since the rise of al-Qaida.

Then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano expressed the fear that soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan would be recruited by “right wing terrorist groups.”

Brandon Raub was arrested August 16th, 2012 for posting “controversial song lyrics, conspiracy theories related to 9/11 and talk of upcoming revolution,” on Facebook. He was taken to a mental health institution and admitted for Oppositional Defiance Disorder, a term that the government uses to brand those who disagree with the way government is being run, as being insane.

Raub says two FBI agents came to his door and they spoke to for several minutes.

“They said they were there just to talk,” he said. “In the beginning it was very vague. It was almost as if they wanted me to volunteer information, which I was very happy to do.”

The subject of Raub’s Facebook page came up and a secret service agent asked him to step outside. In total, they spoke for 10-15 minutes before he was eventually taken into custody.

“It was almost as though they had come with that purpose from the beginning,” he said.

Raub was never read his Miranda rights, held at John Randolph Hospital in Hopewell and later transferred to Salem. Three days later, Circuit Court Judge Allan Sharratt ordered Raub released, stating the prosecution was “so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy.”

On February 28th of this year, a judge dismissed his lawsuit.

His lawsuit blamed county mental health worker Michael Campbell for his detention. U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson ruled Friday that Campbell acted reasonably in recommending Raub be held for evaluation.

Raub claimed the weeklong detention violated the prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure as well as his free-speech rights.
Hudson scoffed at Raub’s assertion that officials had conspired to suppress dissident speech.

“Given the collective information presented to (the psychiatric evaluator) and the results of his interview with Raub, (the evaluator’s ) decision as a mental health evaluator to seek a temporary detention order was objectively reasonable, irrespective of Raub’s political beliefs.” Hudson wrote.

“Raub’s assertion that Campbell, in league with the Chesterfield County Police Department and the FBI, was involved in a conspiracy to suppress dissident speech is unsupported by the evidence—and frankly, far-fetched.”

“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 and lead attorney for the Rutherford Institute.

“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 worldwide web — then the First Amendment really has become an exercise in futility,” added Rutherford.

“In a hearing on Aug. 20, government officials pointed to Raub’s Facebook posts as the reason for his incarceration,” Rutherford concluded. “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.”

This is part of a DHS directive called “Operation Vigilant Eagle,” a directive for scrutinizing the behavior of veterans for anything nonconformist as a means of weeding out dissent. The program claims to be trying to help veterans who are “disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war.”

However, critics have noted that the criteria is overly broad and seems to target right-wing thought as a dangerous behavior worthy of institutionalization where veterans can become re-educated.

In 2012, San Francisco Examiner’s Anthony Martin reported on the crisis:

“Perhaps the most troubling of these newly coined illnesses is ‘oppositional defiance disorder,’ which denotes that the person exhibits ‘symptoms’ such as the questioning of authority, the refusal to follow directions, stubbornness, the unwillingness to go along with the crowd, and the practice of disobeying or ignoring orders. Persons may also receive such a label if they are considered free thinkers, nonconformists, or individuals who are suspicious of large, centralized government.

Some critics view the process of declaring such persons emotionally unfit as a major step toward designating all so-called ‘right wing extremists’ as mentally ill.

At one time the accepted protocol among mental health professionals was to reserve the diagnosis of oppositional defiance disorder for children or adolescents who exhibited uncontrollable defiance toward their parents and teachers.”

“The forced committal of veterans to mental hospitals for nothing more than post traumatic stress is raising the eyebrows of more than one of the many government watchdog groups who are convinced that a more sinister goal lies beneath the government’s treatment of veterans,” concluded Martin.

In the end, Raub said: “I’m pretty tough, so I roll with the punches. But it made me scared for my country. The idea that a man can be snatched off his property without being read his rights I think should be very alarming to all Americans.”


Published by

Tom Darby

Former radio personality and newspaper reporter

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