A former Marine who was forcibly detained by FBI agents and is being held against his will in a psychiatric institute for posting anti-government messages on Facebook has been ordered held for a month by a Virginia judge.
Brandon Raub accused the US government of carrying out the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC. The 26-year-old Marine veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars also spoke of leading a revolution against the government. But supporters say Raub has effectively been arrested-- although federal and local authorities insist he is not under arrest-- for exercising his First Amendment rights.
FBI, Secret Service and Chesterfield County police swarmed Raub's Chesterfield home on Thursday evening and questioned him about making Facebook "threats" that were "terrorist in nature." According to authorities, one such post said, "Sharpen my axe; I'm here to sever heads."
On August 14, Raub posted a photo of the severely-damaged Pentagon in the wake of the 9/11 attack with the caption, "This is a photo of the Pentagon, right after our leaders shot a missile into it."
"There has been an overwhelming amount of evil enacted and planned against you, your children and your countrymen," Raub posted on August 12. "It is great in scope. Your government is evil. It is as simple as that. And the cavalry is coming."
That "cavalry," Raub posted, would be led by him.
"The Revolution will come for me," he wrote on August 16. "Men will be at my door soon to pick me up to lead it."
The Washington Postreports that Raub was detained under a Virginia law allowing emergency, temporary psychiatric commitment if a mental health professional recommends it. Raub was taken against his will to the John Randolph Medical Center in Hopewell, without being charged with any crime.
At a hearing at the hospital on Monday, a judge ordered Raub to be held for another month. It is unclear if any reason for the extended detention was given.
"I'm currently in John Randolph in the psychiatric ward being held against my will," Raub told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in a phone interview.
Raub said the FBI and Secret Service agents that came to his home were "concerned about me calling for the arrest of government officials."
"I talked to a Secret Service gentlemen for 20, 30 minutes," Raub said. "I was very cooperative and answered very honestly."
"I really love America," the former Marine continued. "And I think that the idea that you can be detained and sent somewhere without due process and a lawyer... is crazy."
But under a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) quietly signed by President Barack Obama on New Year's Eve, American citizens suspected of being terrorists can be indefinitely detained by the military without charge or trial.
The Rutherford Institute, a Virginia-based civil liberties group that is representing Raub, condemned his detention.
"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 principal this country was founded upon," Rutherford executive director John Whitehead said in a statement.
Cathleen Thomas, Raub's mother, told the Washington Post in a phone interview that "the bottom line is [Raub's] freedom of speech has been violated."
Thomas said her son is "concerned about all the wars we've experienced" and believes the US government is behind the 9/11 attacks.
FBI spokeswoman Dee Rybiski told the Washington Post that the agency did not spy on Raub's Facebook page.
"We received quite a few complaints about what were perceived as threatening posts," she said. "Given the circumstances with the things that have gone on in the country with some of these mass shootings, it would be horrible for law enforcement not to pay attention to complaints."
Whitehead cast doubt on Rybiski's claims, saying some of the controversial posts were made on a closed Facebook page just recently created.