“Support our troops” is one slogan that can be and has been found on billboards and posters in every city and town across America. It has been uttered from the mouths of people from many different nationalities and religions. That phrase has been a part of the American attitude since the conception of our independent nation and throughout our 237 year history.
When one sees these words, he or she may think about supporting the personnel of our defense system. Those persons, for example, could be the troops who face battles and wars, but also included are those behind the lines who help with supplies and infrastructure. Support for our troops is inevitable for our nation. The same three words may also be interpreted as supporting the government’s decisions based on its current domestic and foreign policies, which are also necessary for our success as a country, but the two are not always concurrent.
Brandon Raub is one who is represented by those three words. Raub is a Marine veteran who has served in the Corp in both Iraq and Afghanistan from 2005 to 2011. Although Raub was commemorated for his efforts, his own support for the government’s decisions was the subject of several of his Facebook posts. Raub included in those posts lists of his grievances and opinions about where he sees the current course of our nation heading. These articles were not seen by our government, however, as a threat, and according to The Rutherford Institute Raub’s property was surrounded by Secret Service and FBI who began with questioning about the Facebook editorials and ended with him being handcuffed without warrant or recitation of his Miranda rights. Raub was then detained under a Virginia Statute to undergo psychiatric evaluation for the Facebook columns.
The Virginia Statute that allowed for Raub’s detention was that of recently broadened Statutory Civil Commitment Criteria. It was used by the “Lone-Wolf Initiative” as part of the greater Operation Vigilant Eagle effort headed by the FBI to pinpoint and detain Brandon Raub under the notion that he may be a “lone wolf” terrorist.
The commitment criteria from (37.2-817C):
After observing the person and considering (i) the recommendations of any treating or examining physician or psychologist licensed in Virginia, if available, (ii) any past actions of the person, (iii) any past mental health treatment of the person, (iv) any examiner's certification, (v) any health records available, (vi) the preadmission screening report, and (vii) any other relevant evidence that may have been admitted, including whether the person recently has been found unrestorably incompetent to stand trial after a hearing held pursuant to subsection E of § 19.2-169.1, if the judge or special justice finds by clear and convincing evidence that
(a) the person has a mental illness and there is a substantial likelihood that, as a result of mental illness, the person will, in the near future,
(1) 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
(2) suffer serious harm due to his lack of capacity to protect himself from harm or to provide for his basic human needs, and (b) all available less restrictive treatment alternatives to involuntary inpatient treatment, pursuant to subsection D, that would offer an opportunity for the improvement of the person's condition have been investigated and determined to be inappropriate, the judge or special justice shall by written order and specific findings so certify and order that the person be admitted involuntarily to a facility for a period of treatment not to exceed 30 days from the date of the court order.
Even though Raub has no previous history of mental illness, the hearing still confirmed a necessary involuntary commitment to undergo evaluation.
Three days after his official detainment and six days after his arrest, Circuit Judge W. Allan Sharret declared the commitment order granted for Brandon Raub’s detainment as invalid. Brandon Raub was released. Another detailed account of Raub’s story can be found here:
This story is eerily reminiscence of seditious libel. Seditious libel was originally brought about in the early 17th century under English common law and was only abolished by Section 73 of the Coroners and Justice Act of 2009. These common laws were adopted by the United States when President John Adams, in 1798, signed them into laws as the Alien and Seditions Acts. One story that illustrates the reason Federalists agreed to passing such laws, is that of Benjamin Franklin Bache and the Alien and Sedition Trials.
Benjamin Bache was the editor of the Aurora Newspaper; a leading Republican newspaper in the late 18th century. The Republican paper at the time showed openly its disdain for the Federalist Party and sympathized with Americans who refused to enforce federal laws that they deemed unconstitutional. The Sedition Act gave the Federalist Party what they needed to quiet their opponents. Bach was finally indicted for seditious libel and arrested.
There are many more stories of those arrested and tried under the Sedition Act which was sorely a violation of the 1st Amendment. A strong proponent for 1st Amendment Rights was Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, William O. Douglas, who said the following about the Sedition Act in Watts vs. United States:
"The Alien and Sedition Laws constituted one of our sorriest chapters; and I had thought we had done with them forever … Suppression of speech as an effective police measure is an old, old device, outlawed by our Constitution."
Why would our Supreme Court and Judicial System see that it was fitting to do away with laws concerning seditious libel, but other government officials mold broad definitions of mental illness to encompass the same mind set?
This question can be answered by James Barry, then Director of the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence, who perceives this activity as just part of the territory of secrecy. Barry writes the following in the unclassified document, “Guideposts from Just War Theory: Managing Covert Political Action”, where Just War Theory is being applied to covert activities regarding low-intensity conflicts:
Formulated this way, the Just War guidelines seem to be directly applicable to covert paramilitary operations or other actions involving the use of violence or coercion. Those who advocate or approve such covert actions, however, bear the additional burden of demonstrating why they must be conducted covertly. As ethicist Sissela Bok has pointed out, every state requires a measure of secrecy to defend itself, but when secrecy is invoked citizens lose the ordinary democratic checks on those matters that can affect them most strongly.18 In addition, a special problem of operational control can arise when intermediaries (agents) are employed — because their aims may differ from ours, and because the chain of command may be ambiguous or unreliable.19 Finally, most covert actions will necessarily lack the public legitimacy and legal status under international law of a declared, justifiable war. This makes it incumbent on those advocating such actions to take into account the consequences of possible public misunderstanding and international opprobrium.
An example of one of these covert activities includes the spying on potential “lone wolf” terrorists who fall under the definitions for surveillance by Operation Vigilant Eagle.
There are men in our government offices, who believe wholeheartedly that they are defending our nation. They also suppose that a side effect of that defense is the acceptance that there may be innocent casualties, such as Raub, having to defend themselves against allegations of mental illness.
Brandon Raub and any other American should be able to quote lyrics to a song and apply their own perspectives and opinions to government policy. Americans should not fear that someone will detain them just for expressing those opinions. It does not matter if it is under the preface that they are mentally ill or not. Americans have the sovereign right to remain innocent until proven guilty.
There is a distress being brought from the past into the present; a fear that something might happen. Living in a nation of dread against the possible future is not living in a home of freedom and bravery. This of course is just one fear. Those whom have been trained through the Military system, such as Raub, must add ever more qualms, because just the act of making the decision to serve their country puts them at the top of the list for unwarranted monitoring by the very government for whom they chose to serve.
Currently, Raub has chosen to present suit against those who committed him. According to The Rutherford Institute, on May 28, 2013, Brandon Raub is requesting damages to be awarded to rectify the violation of his Amendment Rights.
We, as citizens of the United States, should not have to get permission to present differing opinions so that we are able to make rational informed decisions. We not the building blocks of our government! Our congress is the combination of our efforts to concisely yet efficiently have our opinions voiced.
We as Americans need to continue to support our troops both on and off the battlefield. We need to support those elected into our government offices, but together we also need to humbly realize when a mistake has been made and then make the proper corrections in service to our great nation.
Infringements on sovereign and constitutional rights on the basis of security must be brought to a close for our great nation to maintain independence for its people.