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?