Judge orders Brandon Raub released from hospital

DALLAS, August 23rd, 2012 - After a special hearing today, Circuit Judge W. Allan Sharret declared the commitment order granted to federal authorities for Brandon Raub’s arrest and detainment was invalid. Raub, the 26-year-old former Marine, pro-liberty activist and Virginia resident, was seized by FBI, Secret Service and local authorities over Facebook posts allegedly “terrorist in nature”.

According to court documents, a swift evaluation by social worker Michael Campbell determined Raub’s involuntary admission. The following day, a magistrate Michael S. Znotens ordered his detention at John Randolph Hospital. Raub was evaluated for an additional 15 minutes by Dr. James A. Correll and later ordered by Special Justice Walter Douglass Stoke to remain for 30 days at VA Hospital in Salem, VA.

John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute, a Virginia-based civil rights organization, rushed to Raub’s defense, filing multiple motions later denied, including a plea preventing Raub’s transfer away from family and legal counsel. Once denied, another appeal noting Raub’s initial detention orders did not follow the law Chesterfield PD was filed.

Judge Sharret agreed the arrest and detention actions were illegal and will request Raub’s discharge. As the Richmond-Times Dispatch reports, he was shocked by the failure of the magistrate to include in the order any grounds for holding Raub.

“The initial order was rubber-stamped”,says John Whitehead. “The special justice is very old. He had trouble hearing Brandon. He brought into the courtroom a personal cassette player – we tried to listen to it and you can hardly hear what’s being said. This is the so-called judge – he’s a lawyer, not a real judge – it’s like what you would see in a bad movie.”

“There’s a system here that is corrupt. And this guy is caught in it,” Whitehead told Business Insider. “I’m friends with the local police; I could call them right now and probably get you committed if you were in Virginia. They can arrive at your door based on somebody’s testimony or your Facebook page and take you away to a mental hospital.”

Whitehead stated that 20,000 people are committed under similar circumstances in Virginia annually. “That means a lot of people are disappearing under the pretext of mental illness”.

Many of Raub’s posts were controversial, including forecasting a popular revolution against the federal government, anti-establishment statements and pro-conspiracy remarks. But authorities claimed concerned citizens anonymously reported Raub’s statements while Whitehead clarified the statements “terrorist in nature” were out-of-context messages shared privately via a Facebook game Raub played with siblings, which the FBI spied on.

As Whitehead told Virginia’s NBC 12, “Quoting some lyrics from a rock group called ‘Swollen Members’ they were joking around. His brother and his sister and that’s it and that’s why he’s in this situation. All he was doing was expressing himself in a Facebook game.” Whitehead’s clarifications were ignored by federal and judicial authorities.

Usually apolitical Americans mobilized with veterans and activists in defense of Raub’s First Amendment rights, contacting his state and federal legislators consistently since the saga began. Many join his council believing Raub was targeted by overzealous, illegal police action.

Tristan Tucker, a libertarian activist and veteran believes Raub’s arrest was an important reminder that the First Amendment is the cornerstone of American freedom:

“I think it’s disgusting. This guy posted some conspiracy theory-esque posts and intimidated the Feds. So I think he either was targeted for terror suspicion anyway or he hit close to home with his accusations. Either way, I have been expecting this for some time, since DHS put out that memorandum last year saying that right-wing leaning veterans that vocally dissent should be considered terror suspects.”

Supporters that organized online are elated and thankful to the public for rallying to Raub’s defense, which they believe sets a precedent that federal authorities do not have unchecked power.

“I think I speak for us all when I say that we couldn’t be happier. I hope this decision sticks. I personally plan to stay vigilant about topics like this, so a similar incident doesn’t occur again. Brandon is a true patriot and we are all so very proud of him and glad to hear of his release,” said leaders of the Brandon Raub Truth Investigation group.

Another commenter agreed, “They saw a storm coming and backed off. The Bill of Rights is not negotiable. It’s amazing what happens when the people read, listen and speak out.”

Updates are expected to develop. Check back with Communities @WashingtonTimes.com as details emerge. Read more:http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/citizen-warrior/2012/aug/23/judge-orders-brandon-raub-released-hospital/#ixzz3QdaOmEXZ Follow us:@wtcommunities on Twitter

The case of Brandon Raub: Can the government detain you over Facebook posts?

Tiffany Madison broke this story for the Washington Times Communities. WASHINGTON, August 22, 2012 — Brandon J. Raub, a 26-year-old pro-liberty activist, former U.S. Marine, and Virginia resident, was arrested after authorities deemed his Facebook posts threatening. Citing an obscure statute allowing the involuntary detainment of a citizen for psychiatric evaluation, the FBI, Secret Service, and local authorities swarmed Raub’s property to question and then seize him.

Without a warrant or recitation of his Miranda rights, Raub was handcuffed and taken into custody. After a quick hearing, government officials confirmed that Raub’s Facebook posts necessitated his detention, refusing to acknowledge legal objections that the words were wrongly interpreted. The former Marine will undergo 30 days of evaluation at Salem VA Medical Center.

Since the incident, Raub has become an online hero as the arrest video and Facebook pages teeter on the verge of going viral. Citizens from all political persuasions, veterans, civil liberties advocates and the generally curious are discussing the political manifesto and detainment of Brandon Raub.

UPDATE: Judge orders Brandon Raub released from hospital

So what did he post? A Facebook note titled “The Truth” lists grievances against the American ruling establishment. Raub expresses his belief that the American principles of limited government and personal liberty are expiring and that corporations and international bankers run the state, not the people. Raub has directly called for the arrest of bankers and politicians who consistently defy their oath to the United States Constitution.

According to his supporters, Raub also believes the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were sold to the American people under false pretenses to benefit the powerful at the expense of military families, American treasure, and domestic security. Raub served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Marine Corps from 2005 to 2011.

Many of Raub’s statements are typical among the politically active, but while many fellow rebels support Raub’s statements, others stress that he did not stop with simple dissent. Reciting popular conspiracy theories from the U.S. government’s complicity in the 9/11 attacks to a scheme to consolidate the world’s power into the hands of the few, it is clear Raub was frustrated, angry and disappointed in his country’s trajectory.

Though his defenders claim he is a patriot meaning no harm, the former Marine directly encouraged a popular revolution against tyrannical and un-constitutional government, claiming he would “kickstart” resistance. No direct threats were posted, and posts of this darker nature were a mixture of statements authorities construed as incitements to violence and song lyrics from heavy rock music.

Undoubtedly, these expressions concerned federal authorities, but was detainment for “psychological evaluation” without respect for Raub’s rights to Due Process warranted? Raub has no history of mental illness and a reputation for organizing peaceful political demonstrations.

The consensus is divided. “After the recent shootings and the Virginia Tech massacre, can the authorities really ignore threats that seem immediate?” a contrarian posted on Facebook. “Their job is to protect us.”

Raub’s defenders disagreed, citing a larger concern that federal authorities are blatantly ignoring citizens’ rights. A former Marine who served with Raub has been most vocal in his defense.

“I served alongside Brandon both in Iraq and in Afghanistan. He was in my combat engineer platoon in Iraq in 2006 and in Afghanistan 2011. Brandon was the man who opened my eyes to the slow hemorrhaging of civil rights in America and the extreme and purposeful devaluation of the dollar.

“Whether you agree with his method or mode of expressing himself is erroneous. He has broken no laws and hurt no one. He needs to be released or charged with a crime. This is a very scary path to an extreme Big Brother state. Please sign the petition to free Brandon,” posted Matthew Turner on a Change.org petition.

The Oath Keepers, a non-partisan association of law enforcement, first responders and veterans, are outraged. They plan to rally in Raub’s defense, calling his detention a “Soviet style pre-crime detention”.

Classifying dissidents as mentally ill is a timeless art. In the Soviet Union, millions were condemned to “psikhushkas,” or psychiatric prisons, in order to isolate, discredit and destroy dissent and activism. Even in the land of the free, President Wilson sought to silence suffragette Alice Paul through legal declarations of insanity, though thankfully the doctor refused.

With the current political climate increasingly hostile to constitutionally protected activism, activists worry that without public outrage, pliable psychological professionals and unethical federal authorities could resurrect this trend.

While some are concerned with ending Raub’s detention unless charges are filed, the government’s justification and processing of Raub’s arrest concern the American Civil Liberties Union and legal professionals.

Officials insist the seizure was not an arrest because there are no criminal charges, but an ACLU investigator disagrees, “I have reviewed the video of Mr. Raub’s arrest. According to federal statute, when the police restrained the subject with handcuffs and stopped him from moving about under his own free will, at that point the subject was, in fact, under arrest. The fact that he was not read his Miranda Rights is another violation.”

A lawyer in Dallas is more concerned the incident is a harbinger of things to come after recent constitutional abuses by the federal government concerning due-process rights and domestic spying:

“In May, a U.S. Judge Forrest suspended the federal government’s new unconstitutional power to indefinitely detain United States citizens based on mere suspicion of being ‘terror-linked.’ Last week, Obama’s attorneys refused to define any terms, including what constituted as ‘linked’ to a ‘terrorist.’

“They also refused to testify they were not in contempt of court for denying due process for Americans even after the judge’s restriction. This is a reckless abandonment of the American system and a violation of every American principle.

“Arresting dissidents without calling it ‘arrest,’ which is in complete violation of Raub’s civil liberties, combined with the insistence that the federal government has a right to imprison anyone based on suspicion, should scare every American. We are losing this republic and fast.”

Unless the Obama administration abandons the NDAA, it is reasonable to assume that if Raub (or any other dissident) were deemed a “terrorist”, even before manifesting intent to act, federal authorities could skip the entire judicial process and imprison him at the pleasure of the President. Very few civilized nations allow unchecked power of this magnitude in the 21st century.

Further, the language of the NDAA is so vague that Raub’s entire family, friends or anyone who “substantially supported” him or “associated forces” could also be indefinitely detained without trial. According to Obama’s lawyers, it is possible.

For John Whitehead, Director of the Rutherford Institute, a Virginia-based civil liberties organization defending Raub, the larger concern is whether government officials are monitoring citizens’ private Facebook pages for dissent.

“For government officials to not only arrest Brandon Raub for doing nothing more than exercising his First Amendment rights but to actually force him to undergo psychological evaluations and detain him against his will goes against every constitutional principle this country was founded upon. This is a scary new chapter in this nation’s history.”

According to FBI Spokeswoman Dee Rybiski, federal agents did not monitor Raub’s Facebook page, but received “a few complaints about what were perceived as threatening posts”. Whitehead doubts the FBI’s honesty, stating the page in question was recently created and private.

Though the facts are unclear in this specific case, it is an unspoken understanding of the politically aware that the federal government monitors social media accounts of American citizens for political opinions.

Though the extent of snooping program remains classified, a Freedom of Information Act release revealed that General Dynamics was awarded the $11.3 million dollar tax-payer funded contract to stalk social media traffic. Keyword-generated status reports “capturing public reaction” and opinions that “reflect adversely” on the federal government were produced weekly for the Department of Homeland Security.

Senior officials insist the government can be trusted and that citizens are not tracked by their political views at this time, but Ginger McCall, director of the EPIC’s open government program points out, “The language in the documents makes it quite clear that they are looking for media reports that are critical of the agency and the U.S. government more broadly. This [monitoring] could have a substantial chilling effect on legitimate dissent and freedom of speech.”

Until Raub’s release, veteran activists and fellow Marines have organized demanding full disclosure from authorities as to the exact posts that triggered Raub’s detainment. They advocate that either charges be filed or he be released immediately. They also remind one another to act with caution. Said one Army veteran and Oath Keeper online:

“We understand more than federal agents and bureaucrats that protecting and serving is not always easy. Marines and soldiers expressing themselves should be careful to never give the impression we incite aggressive violence against the government.

“The United States government is watching everything you post online. What you say is not private. We may openly declare we will defend the American people against domestic terrorism, including violent government aggression, but we are the good guys. Act like it.”

Pending an announced release date, dozens of popular “Support Brandon Raub” Facebook pages have emerged as citizens and veterans monitor the situation. To express your thoughts on the arrest and detention of Brandon J. Raub, reach out to Senator Mark Warner, Senator Jim Webb, or Congressman Randy Forbes.

Read more:http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/citizen-warrior/2012/aug/22/can-government-detain-you-over-facebook-posts/#ixzz3Qh60EG4Z Follow us:@wtcommunities on Twitter

Ecuador grants Wikileaks' Assange asylum, ignites diplomatic storm with England

WASHINGTON,August 16, 2012 — Julian Assange, founder and guiding spirit of the whistle-blowing organization Wikileaks, has been granted asylum by Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, sparking a tense diplomatic stand-off between Ecuador and the West. Ecuador’s foreign minister Ricardo Patiño explained the government’s decision to media. “The Ecuador government, loyal to its tradition to protect those who seek refuge with us at our diplomatic missions, has decided to grant diplomatic asylum to Mr. Assange,” he said.

In response to Correa’s decision, the U.K. expressed “disappointment” before privately threatening to forcibly arrest Assange if he attempted to depart for Ecuador. The foreign minister promptly denounced threats to assault the Ecuadorian embassy. “Today we received a threat from the United Kingdom; a clear and written threat that they could storm our embassy in London if Ecuador refuses to hand in Julian Assange. We want to make it clear we are not a British colony and that the times of the colonies are over,” said Patiño.

This move is bold, but unsurprising. In 2011, State Department cables showed American ambassador Heather Hodges instigating unfounded rumors of high-level Ecuadorian corruption, angering Correa’s progressive administration. According to Correa, Hodges was approached with requests to validate her claims but refused, replying with “arrogance, an imperialistic attitude and insolence.”

After investigation, it was revealed that Hodges’ accusations were based on gossip from opposition groups. The U.S. ambassador was later expelled from Ecuador, joining other American diplomats removed from positions after the embarrassing leaks.

In an interview with Assange for the World Tomorrow series in May 2012, Correa expressed his support for the mission of exposing America’s dedication to secrecy and consistent incitement of political tensions.

“I lived in America for four years and have two academic degrees from universities. I love and admire the American people a great deal. The last thing I would be is anti-American, however I will always call a spade a spade and if there are international policies detrimental to Latin America I will denounce them.

“We believe, my dear Julian, that the only things that should be protected against information sharing and freedom of speech are those set in the international treaties, in the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights: the dignity and the reputation of people, and the safety of people and the State. The rest, the more people find out about it, the better,” he told Assange. “We have absolutely nothing to fear. Let them [Wikileaks] publish everything they have about the Ecuadorian government.”

Correa hopes the leaks will show the blatant corruption conducted with the American people’s resources without fear of retribution.

In an effort to silence Assange, the U.S. government has allegedly wielded its resources to censor Wikileaks’ social media footprint, suspend Assange’s bank accounts and financesattack the website, and pressure corporations and foreign governments to deny the organization exposure. In response, the online community has donated in record numbers, created mirror websites, and held demonstrations in his defense.

Since 2009, pressure on the U.K. government to deliver Assange has increased. Though he has not been charged with a crime, he is wanted for questioning in Stockholm on unrelated charges filed after the first leak. It is customary for law enforcement to interrogate suspects in other nations, but Swedish officials have refused to visit the U.K., demanding physical extradition. Sources suspect this demand is a foil to capture Assange for the U.S. government.

Patiño clarified that Ecuador would allow Assange’s extradition to Sweden with guarantees that no eventual extradition to the United States would take place. Sweden refused to make such promises.

CIA analystsbelieve extradition to Sweden for questioning could result in international rendition,torture and indefinite detention without charge or trial. The government of Ecuador agrees. “It is not impossible that he would be treated in a cruel manner, condemned to life in prison, or even the death penalty,” Patiño said.

In spite of Ecuador’s desire to protect Assange from persecution, the U.K. vows to arrest Assange if he attempts to depart. “Under our law, with Mr. Assange having exhausted all options of appeal U.K. authorities are under binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden. We shall carry out that obligation. The Ecuadorian Government’s decision this afternoon does not change that. We remain committed to a negotiated solution that allows us to carry out our obligations under the Extradition Act,” British foreign office said.

Though revoking Ecuador’s diplomatic status and storming the building is unlikely at this time, the Ecuadorian embassy is underconstant media surveillance until the fate of Assange is negotiated. For now, Assange cannot exit the building, and Ecuadorian officials claim he will remain in the embassy indefinitely. Read more:http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/citizen-warrior/2012/aug/16/ecuador-grants-wikileaks-assange-asylum-ignites-di/#ixzz3Qda1lsDH Follow us:@wtcommunities on Twitter

The divisive case of Bradley Manning

Though it is Manning who is ultimately on trial, the case has inspired incredibly divisive, passionate debate, revealing multiple political and philosophical rifts between Americans in both the civilian and military communities. Observers disagree on nearly every philosophical and political point, each side presenting equally compelling arguments to support the outcome they see in Manning’s future: death, prison or freedom. Under the surface of these arguments lay timeless, complicated philosophical questions that inspire passionate rhetoric from each side: what are the state’s rights to secrecy versus rights of the people to know their government’s actions committed in their name? In times of war, what is the value of an oath versus the moral obligation to act on one’s conscience in the face of atrocities? Can a nation fight against human rights violations while also violating human rights? And if the government wages expensive wars its citizen’s finance and warriors fight, should it be accountable for errors when they are made? If not, who watches the watchers? Answers to these questions reveal a growing political divide along statist and civil libertarian lines.

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