Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Watch Your Back—Crazed Vet Behind You!

I was prepared to write off the recent flap about a vet who found himself in a psychiatric ward after posting some strange comments on his Facebook page. He was put on a psychiatric hold by the local authorities after receiving information about the posts from DHS and the FBI. But after all, a judge reviewed the case, found no substantial evidence of any danger posed by the vet, and ordered his immediate release. So why should I care?

After reading the comments posted by Marine vet Brandon J. Raub, I was convinced that it was a matter of extreme overreach by the authorities, and probably a violation of his First Amendment free speech rights. He said, among other things, that “a day of reckoning is coming,” and “sharpen my axe, I'm here to sever heads.” Not exactly dinner table conversation, but I've probably said worse things right here on this blog (the most frequent being “I hate Barack Obama”). But the system worked, it was an isolated incident, and Raub is free to move on.

I'm not big on conspiracy theories, as we've discussed multiple times on this site. But that doesn't mean there aren't some conspiracies, or that like-thinking people can't act in ways that take on the form of conspiracy. One of the leitmotifs of liberal thinking is that all returning vets are either crazy or about to go crazy. They served their country under horrifying conditions, and it made them nuts. DHS has gone so far as to assert that all Iraq and Afghanistan vets should be watched carefully for signs of irrational or insane behavior since they could easily slip into madness and commit a terrorist act.

After doing some further research, I have decided that the Raub incident may not be so isolated after all. Raub was represented by the Rutherford Institute (think ACLU for conservatives). The FBI had conducted an interview with Raub, and decided that his views and his posts were “ominous.” The local authorities agreed, and acted on that information. But the judge found that there was simply nothing that fit the rules of clear and present danger, or clear and convincing evidence of a threat. He further found that Raub's comments and posts were not sufficient evidence that he was a danger to himself or others, the most basic of reasons to place a citizen under a psychiatric hold.

Except for a future civil suit against the authorities for misuse of their powers, that might seem to be the end of it. But the attorney for Raub asserts that there are twenty cases he knows of involving psychiatric holds or threats of holds just in the same county where Raub was detained. John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute says that he has been contacted by veterans nationwide who have had similar experiences with authorities attempting to have them declared mentally ill. How much of this is evidentiary and how much anecdotal remains to be seen. After all, some vets are crazy, just like people in every other stratum of society. But the numbers either harassed or “held” seem to reflect a dangerous trend.

One advocate of the religion of peace shouts Allahu akbar and opens fires on his fellow soldiers, and the liberals simply can't figure out what the underlying cause of the violence is. But angry vets who merely criticize their government's namby-pamby attitude toward terrorism and promotion of ideas foreign to American tradition in very colorful language are now subject to psychiatric holds.

In her April 2009 memorandum on the state of domestic terrorism (“intelligence assessment”), Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano specifically listed returning vets as potential terrorists. Asked about it recently, Napolitano didn't waver a bit, and said she stands by the assessment. Since that memo was issued, civil commitments of vets for psychiatric problems have accelerated rapidly. I'm far from ready to declare that there's a conspiracy involved here, but the like thinking of DHS and the FBI and the ease with which vets are detained based on “ominous mental health assessment” information provided to local authorities is certainly something for us to be concerned with. It may be coincidence, or it may be a pattern.

Genuine threats are prosecutable, as they should be. Even the First Amendment has its exceptions. But the expression of anger and frustration at the government accompanied by intemperate wording is not and should not be prosecutable. Those in government positions who wish to squelch free speech know that. Still, in at least in some cases, they seem to have taken a page out of the Soviet psikhushka program whereby dissidents were placed in psychiatric facilities so that they could be “re-educated” and their “crazy” views discredited with the public. “Crazy war vets” have already been pre-qualified by DHS as potential terrorists, so isn't this a great way to silence them?

29 comments:

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

I saw that. What does it portend? I don't know, but I do know, if you have a religious affiliation that people know about and you call into a radio station to rant, some might report you if you have any guns.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Excellent post, LawHawk!

I thought Napolitano listed all vets, not just returning war vets as potential terrorists.
Now I feel left out, lol.

It's not a conspiracy, it's this Administrations policy plus a warped view of vets without any healthy perspective thanks to shoddy reporting and irresponsible statements by idiots like Napolitano.

The media always jumps on any incident of violence committed by a veteran (gleefully, I might add) and they highlight it for days and have "experts" talking about it for days (and yet they ignore the killing fields of Chicago. I wonder why?).

Then you get quacks like Dr. Phil who aired a program about vets with PTSD called "Heroes or Monsters?"
Yeah. Way to stigmatize a mental illness and hurt vets Phil. All for ratings.

Of course, the media has also stigmatized PTSD, and like Phil, make it appear that any vet with PTSD or any mental illnesses is ready to snap at any mment and go on a killing spree.

This makes it virtually impossible for these vets to get jobs in the private sector. Go read what vet spouses write, about what their husbands and their entire family goes through because of this innaccurate, tabloid and ratings grabbing reporting.

The fact is, there are fewer incidents of violence per capita among vets, even war vets than there are among private citizens (especially those living in Chicago).

Those four anarchist, would-be terrorist soldiers caught at Fort Stewart, GA will be headlines for weeks I bet and used to "vindicate" Napolitano.

Nevermind that their plans to poison the Washington State apple crop, overthrow Ft Stewart, and overthrow the govt. and kill Obama (4 guys, all in their twenties and not very bright, really?) was wishful thinking on their part.

They did manage to murder a fellow soldier and his wife, but there is no way they could've carried out their other plans.

Expect that to be played up to the hilt.
Unlike the Ft. Hood murders by Hassan. Oddly enough, reporters get very quiet when Muslims are the perps.

Don't get me wrong, it should be reported, but it doesn't prove Napolitano's stupid threat list is valid or a good use of resources.

All of this has caused a lot of overreactions by nat'l and some local law enforcement agencies.

T-Rav said...

Episodes like this just show how schizophrenic people can be about violence. On the one hand, taking remarks like this seriously is a bit ridiculous, if you ask me. But, as we all know, every once in a while these ramblings erupt into actual violence, and then everyone cries out, "Why wasn't something done about this beforehand?!" As usual, we want to have it both ways.

Tam said...

Isn't this a way of taking guns away from returning vets? If you have a psych-ward stay, you can't obtain or carry weapons? Or is that too far down the conspiracy road?

tryanmax said...

All I know is that I am dubious of any story broken by Alex Jones. He does an excellent job of dressing up innocuous facts to seem like intricate conspiracies. (Half-a-million plastic coffins, anyone?) Frankly, I'm not shocked at all to hear of 20 similar cases of any type all occurring in Albemarle County. And of course Whitehead now knows about all of them after this one became so notorious.

It may be tangential to say this, and it's certainly nothing leveled directly at Raub, but in the wake of this, I've listened to several vets that I know express discomfort with the habit of lionizing veterans simply because of their service. Raub may be perfectly sane, but it has nothing to do with his being a vet. (Though I must say, you don't get that kind of casual insight from the average Joe.)

Don't get me wrong. They and I all see that Napolitano clearly has a thing against vets. Ben's got it nailed: it's no conspiracy, it's just that this administration has decided to focus on this group. Where you look is where you will find.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: Even Big Brother can't be everywhere all the time, so he needs specific targets. Those "crazy vets" are an easily-identified target.

LawHawkRFD said...

USSBen: As you pointed out, the statistics show that vets are less likely than the general public to commit acts of violence.

I tend to agree with you that there is not some vast left wing conspiracy involved. As I said in the article, it's more like a like-mindedness among the liberals in power that make it look like the trappings of a conspiracy. The results can be strikingly similar.

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

Yes, I know they are easily identified, but they aren't the only ones targeted. People of Christian faith have been targeted too. I am not talking of the people who are spiritual kin to Akin, Huckabee or Santorum.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: As a reductio ad absurdum,we could take the shaggiest of shaggy dog stories and apply it to civil commitments. Kid wearing new school clothes decides it would be fun to splash around in the mud. Mom sees the mess, and angrily says "if you ever do that again, I'll kill you." Does anybody believe mom is actually going to kill the kid if he does it again? Well, anti-discipline neighbor Smith does, and reports it to the local authorities. Without knowing mom or Smith, the authorities act to protect the child. Not as ridiculous as many of us might think.

rlaWTX said...

PTSD is such a HUGE umbrella with a number of presenting symptoms from any serious trauma. Trivializing and overemphasizing it are both issues.

I agree there's not an overarching conspiracy, but it sounds like there might be an issue in that county. Is there a VA there? The locals might just be over-reacters, or the local population might run to crazier than normal distribution, or the area attracts a certain problematic type...

LawHawkRFD said...

Tam: Since I'm not at the conspiracy theory point yet on this issue, I couldn't go that step further. But is the idea that this administration would like to get guns out of vets' hands totally crazy? No.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: More than one source has covered this story. Alex Jones breaking the story is grounds for being suspicious, but even paranoids have enemies. I picked up the Raub story from multiple sources, and I don't listen to talk radio. And as I've said more than once, I am automatically suspicious of conspiracy theories. Like you and Ben, I still see this more as a like-mindedness among those who don't like the military than any genuine conspiracy.

What is different today from the Vietnam era is that vilifying active military is no longer a winning strategy for those who despise the military. So the left lionizes their bravery in battle, but can't wait for them to come home and go crazy.

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, they have suspended kids from school for making a pistol motion with their index finger and saying "Bang!" One thing you learn about public education: Never underestimate the administrators' capacity for stupidity.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: Anyone who opposes the Obama administration is a potential target. That includes people with strong religious beliefs, but this article was largely target-specific: military vets. Obama's enemies list is far too extensive to address in one short article.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: Amen! "Zero tolerance" policies are a bureaucrat's dream.

LawHawkRFD said...

rlaWTX: You are correct that either extreme (trivializing or over-emphasizing PTSD) is bad. The issue here is only at one end of that. Trivializing it won't produce civil commitments, over-emphasizing it will and has. I don't have the kind of information which would allow me to draw conclusions about the feds and the local authorities in Raub's environs. But it does appear to be a nationwide issue, not limited just to the recently-litigated Raub case.

AndrewPrice said...

Honestly, there isn't enough information here to reach any conclusion at all except that the authorities were being cautious.

I would need to see some numbers to show that this was more than a handful of the million+ vets who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I would also need to see some proof that these people weren't making the kinds of statements that should be investigated or that they didn't already have diagnosed mental problems.

Without that, this is just a conspiracy theory.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Sometimes where there's smoke there's no fire. So I agree that for now, this is just an interesting story about vets, rather than one about a conspiracy. Nevertheless, I still think it was well worth discussing. I will say that if this becomes a pattern, one civil commitment is one too many if the sole reason behind it is a "crazy vets" agenda. In Raub's case, for instance, the judge did see the authories' investigation and contentions, and found them wanting. The list of other pending or actual commitments have to stand on their own facts and evidence, and they could very well turn out to be valid commitments. Or not. And that is the sole purpose of the article. It simply raises the question of whether vets are being targeted, and if they are being committed at an improper rate. I'm a long way from drawing any conclusions on that yet.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I think we can all agree that there is a trend, if you will, by some of those on the left (media, politicians, pundits) to advance the crazy vet meme (while handwringing it isn't their fault, of course).

They have been setting the tone for years. There's also a thinly veiled animosity towards vets by a significant number of those on the left.

Case in point:
The OPSEC vets who made an excellent video showing how Obama has put lives in danger from all his national security leaks to further his own glory abd look cool rto his celebrity friends (and get his movie made).

http://www.opsecteam.org/index.html

Obama's reaction (and other democrats) has been despicable and disrespectful.
He could've disagreed without dissing these vets but he chose the low ground.

Of course, he will avoid talking about the specifics because he can't deny them. He made valuable intel gathered by the Bin Laden operation completely useless by jumping the gun and tweeting his hollywood friends.

The Pakistani doctor who helped us locate Bin Laden is now serving a 30 year prison sentence (and certain torture) because Obama couldn't keep his trap shut for at least a few weeks (good luck getting other locals to help our specops and CIA ops guys).

Seriously, go to leftwing websites and read what they say about what these SEALs and ex-military officers have said about Obama and his administration of leakers.

There's no respectful disagreement, only (mostly) vile comments.
I guess that's all they have since they can't refute the evidence, but again, it's a trend and the tone the left has set, and it's disturbing to say the least.

Scratch the surface a bit and these people show their true colors.
Support the troops my ass.

LawHawkRFD said...

USSBen: The left has been anti [American] military for as long as I can remember. They adapt to the times, but the underlying sentiment is always there. Their "we support the troops (but we don't support the war)" mantra is just a modified version of their true feelings. The reality was exposed at several antiwar marches in San Francisco (and other cities) where the protest signs read "we support our troops, when they shoot their officers." Those signs never made the MSM headlines.

Obama, like the demonstrators, shows a phony regard for our military. His sign would read "I support our troops so long as I can use them to enhance my own image--at any cost."

Tehachapi Tom said...

Hawk
The left's concern with returning military seems to be "they have been trained in the use of firearms and then were assigned to use that training". This means they are fitted to be killers. That has the same logic as claiming all women are fitted to be prostitutes. Being able does not necessarily make any one anything.
My first thought was the point expressed by Tam. Now, even after considering your view, there remains an uncomfortable nagging feeling that that is the underlying motive for the focus on returning vets.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tehachapi Tom: I've see that quote in other articles. Liberals are inherently averse to anyone owning a gun (except for themselves and their bodyguards). Those who really know how to use them scare the hell out of them, and has undoubtedly produced at least some of the hysteria around "crazy vets" being a serious threat to the general public.

I hope that this all turns out to be a tempest in a teapot. But for what it's worth, I do have to say that when the Founders wrote the Second Amendment, they weren't talking about self-defense or squirrel-hunting. Despite all the now-failed arguments the liberals used to weaken the Second Amendment, its main purpose in including the words "well-regulated militia" was to make sure that trained, capable armed citizens were always available to combat tyranny--foreign or domestic. Fear of trained vets is fear of the Second Amendment.

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

Yes, but the way it is being done to the religious guys is the same way it is being done to the vets. A "concerned" call from a "friend" who states unequivocally that the guy in question is mentally unstable and has guns. Usually what happens then is a police officer shows up at the door step and "requests" the subject turn himself in for questioning plus confiscate any guns. Then for hours questioned. At the end, it is always recommended the subject go to a mental health specialist on the police list. Are you starting to see the parallels?

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, they also conceal statements like that of a professor who said he hoped the military would encounter "a million Mogadishus" in Afghanistan. Yeah, they support the troops, all right.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: I see the parallels, I just hadn't seen much about the commitments of religious types. That would be something that we should all be concerned with.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: I remember that quote about a million Mogadishus. If I recall correctly, it started with Nicholas De Genova, a Columbia professor of Latino Studies. But then, what can we expect from Columbia? They pushed Obama through, and their most famous professor is black radical disguised as moderate, Hip-Hop Urban Culture Professor Marc Lamont Hill.

Patti said...

this doesn't surprise me one bit and is one more reason barry and his goons have to go. romney may not be every conservative's cup o'tea, but he sure beats any more of the same.

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: And strictly in terms of the present article, Romney really does respect our troops rather than pretending to, then stabbing them in the back.

Individualist said...

Oh Big Brother where art thou!

Ultimately we must control how they think

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