Former Marine Arrested in Crack Down on Anti-Government Commenters -Truth! & Fiction!

Former Marine Arrested in Crack Down on Anti-Government Commenters –Truth! & Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

Forwarded emails claim that a former Marine was detained for making anti-government comments on social media, and that the case proves there is a larger government effort to crackdown on government critics.

The Truth:

It’s true that a former Marine was held for psychiatric evaluation after authorities were tipped-off about cryptic anti-government Facebook posts he made.

The case doesn’t, however, prove that a larger crackdown on people who post anti-government comments on social media sites is underway.

Police from Chesterfield, Virginia, detained former Marine Brandon Raub for a mental health evaluation on August 16, 2012. Police and FBI agents had been dispatched to Raub’s home to investigate a complaint that his Facebook posts had grown increasingly dark. Chesterfield Police said county mental health crisis intervention workers determined that Raub should be held under a temporary detention order and taken to a hospital for further evaluation based on his interactions with police.

Raub was held in psychiatric care until a county judge ordered his release on August 23, 2012. In his ruling, the judge said Raub had suffered “a deprivation of liberty,” an NBC News affiliate reports. No criminal charges were filed in the case. 

In May 2013, attorneys for the Rutherford Institute, an organization that says it defends civil liberties, filed a civil lawsuit on Raub’s behalf. The lawsuit sought damages for alleged violations of Raub’s First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. In March 2014, a federal judge dismissed the case and said mental health workers had acted reasonably in recommending Raub’s detention, the Richmond Times Dispatch reports.

Attorneys for the Rutherford Institute appealed the decision in August 2014. The appeal says a former Marine who served with Raub in Iraq had tipped-off authorities about Raub’s Facebook posts. Some of the posts called for the arrests of President George W. Bush and President H.W. Bush and claimed that the U.S. government had orchestrated 9/11. Raub also talked about how revolution could lead to the former presidents’ demise. Another passage that drew attention stated, “Sharpen up my axe; I’m here to severe heads.” Raub later argued that the passage was intended to be “metaphorical” and said it was a song lyric. Authorities determined that Raub’s messages didn’t include specific threats of violence and didn’t rise to a criminal level.

The eRumor’s claims about a larger ant-government crackdown may be based on “Operation Vigilant Eagle.” The FBI launched the program in April 2009 to target white supremacists and “militia/sovereign-citizen extremist groups,” including veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Wall Street Journal reports. FBI memos stated that the Vigilant Eagle program was designed to “share information regarding Iraqi and Afghanistan war veterans whose involvement in white supremacy and/or militia sovereign citizen extremist groups poses a domestic terrorism threat.”

However, the FBI didn’t detain Raub as part of Vigilant Eagle. Local authorities ordered Raub held for psychiatric evaluation based on his interactions with police, not based on his Facebook posts.

Posted 10/31/14