Government hauled him off for views on 9/11 attack
Former Marine Brandon Raub served several tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq and his attorney describes him as a “loyal American.”
Former Marine Brandon Raub is still looking for justice more than two years after federal agents showed up at his door, placed him in handcuffs, whisked him away from his family and held him against his will in a psychiatric ward — all because of something he posted on Facebook.
Attorneys with the Rutherford Institute argued Raub’s case Jan. 28 before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, asking the court to reinstate the lawsuit of the decorated combat veteran who served tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2005 to 2011. He was seized by a swarm of Secret Service, FBI and local police in August 2012 and held for a week.
Raub, then 26, was involuntary committed because of controversial song lyrics and political views he expressed on his Facebook page.
“They were concerned about me calling for the arrest of government officials,” Raub told the Richmond Times Dispatch in a phone call from his hospital bed. Raub accused the government of lying about 9/11 and spoke of “starting a Revolution,” mere words he had taken no steps toward carrying out, according to his attorneys. Raub said he doesn’t even own a gun.
In another case, Rutherford attorneys filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of a Pennsylvania man who was charged with making unlawful threats and sentenced to 44 months in jail after he reportedly posted references to popular song lyrics and comedy routines on his Facebook page.
“Whether it’s a Marine arrested for criticizing the government on Facebook or an ex-husband jailed for expressing his frustrations through rap lyrics on Facebook, the end result is the same – the criminalization of free speech,” said John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute and author of “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State.”
‘Tools for control’
Rutherford said there is a clear difference between speech that is controversial and that which is criminal. The former is protected by the First Amendment, no matter how unpopular or even hateful it might be.
“While social media and the Internet have become critical forums for individuals to freely share information and express their ideas, they have unfortunately also become tools for the government to monitor, control and punish the populace for behavior and speech that may be controversial but are far from criminal,” he said.
Raub, like many Americans, uses his Facebook page to post song lyrics and air his political opinions.
On Aug. 16, 2012, police from Chesterfield County, Virginia, the U.S. Secret Service and FBI agents arrived at Raub’s home, asked to speak with him about his Facebook posts, and without providing any explanation, levying any charges against Raub or reading him his rights, handcuffed him and transported him to police headquarters, then to a medical facility, where he was held against his will for psychological evaluation and treatment.
Rutherford Institute attorneys challenged the government’s actions as a violation of Raub’s First and Fourth 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.”
The Rutherford Institute filed a lawsuit in May 2013, challenging the government’s actions as procedurally improper and legally unjustified. In February 2014, a federal district court judge dismissed the lawsuit, rejecting concerns over government suppression of dissident speech as “far-fetched.”
Written by LEO HOHMANN
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