RICHMOND, Va. — A former Marine involuntarily detained for psychiatric evaluation for posting strident anti-government messages on Facebook has received an outpouring of support from people who say authorities are trampling on his First Amendment rights.
Brandon J. Raub, 26, has been in custody since FBI, Secret Service agents and police in Virginia's Chesterfield County questioned him Thursday evening about what they said were ominous posts talking about a coming revolution. In one message earlier this month according to authorities, Raub wrote: "Sharpen my axe; I'm here to sever heads."
Police – acting under a state law that allows emergency, temporary psychiatric commitments upon the recommendation of a mental health professional – took Raub to the John Randolph Medical Center in Hopewell. He was not charged with any crime.
A Virginia-based civil liberties group, The Rutherford Institute, dispatched one of its attorneys to the hospital to represent Raub at a hearing Monday. A judge ordered Raub detained for another month, Rutherford executive director John Whitehead said.
"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," Whitehead said.
Raub's mother, Cathleen Thomas, said by telephone that the government had overstepped its bounds.
"The bottom line is his freedom of speech has been violated," she said.
Thomas said her son, who served tours as a combat engineer in Iraq and Afghanistan, is "concerned about all the wars we've experienced" and believes the U.S. government was complicit in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. One of his Facebook posts, she said, pictured the gaping hole in the Pentagon and asked "where's the plane?"
Whitehead said he found nothing alarming in Raub's social media commentaries. "The posts I read that supposedly were of concern were libertarian-type posts I see all the time," he said.
The big concern, Whitehead said, is whether government officials are monitoring citizens' private Facebook pages and detaining people with whom they disagree.
Dee Rybiski, an FBI spokeswoman in Richmond, said there was no Facebook snooping by her agency.
"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 said some of the posts in question were made on a closed Facebook page that Raub had recently created so he questioned whether anyone from the public would have complained about them.
"Support Brandon Raub" Facebook pages have drawn significant interest, and other Internet sites had numerous comments from people outraged by the veteran's detention.
Raub's supporters characterized the detention as an arrest, complaining he was handcuffed and whisked away in a police cruiser without being served a warrant or read his rights. But authorities say it wasn't an arrest because Raub doesn't face criminal charges.
Col. Thierry Dupuis, the county police chief, said Raub was taken into custody upon the recommendation of mental health crisis intervention workers. He said the action was taken under the state's emergency custody statute, which allows a magistrate to order the civil detention and psychiatric evaluation of a person who is considered potentially dangerous.
He said Raub was handcuffed because he resisted officers' attempts to take him into custody.
Follow Larry O'Dell on Twitter: http://twitter.com/LarryOatAP
Earlier on HuffPost:
Show Yourself Breastfeeding
This mommy controversy has long plagued Facebook, as the company states there can be no nudity in its <a href="https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms" target="_hplink">terms of service</a>. But parents argue there's a line between "inappropriate" and "legitimate" images. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/08/facebook-nurse-in-60-brea_n_1263532.html" target="_hplink">Emma Kwasnica</a> is a breastfeeding advocate who often posts pictures of herself nursing, and as a result, her account has been suspended five times. Kwasnica and other mothers even protested the issue at Facebook headquarters during National Breastfeeding Week.
'Pretend' To Be The Zuck
Apparently there can be only one Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook. <a href="http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2385254,00.asp" target="_hplink">According to PC Mag</a>, in 2011 Mark S. Zuckerberg was kicked off Facebook because of "identity fraud." But this lawyer from Indiana had other Facebook woes before his restricted account: Because of the similarity of his name to the ever-fascinating CEO, S. Zuckerberg was receiving nearly 500 friend request a day. Eventually, after making a few headlines, Facebook apologized and the lawyer regained access to his account.
Share Names With A Celeb
Selena Gomez was recently banned from Facebook. But it wasn't the Disney superstar who's been prohibited from uploading her latest pics; it was just a regular girl, <a href="http://www.tmz.com/2012/08/05/selena-gomez-banned-facebook/" target="_hplink">TMZ reported</a>. One day Selena Miranda Gomez from New Mexico attempted to access her Facebook account and found she was unable to log in because the social networking site believed she was impersonating the actress, which is against the company's policy. At the time of publication, it was not clear whether Gomez's account had been reactivated.
Set Up A Profile Under Your Famous Pseudonym
Salman Rushdie, who penned titles like <em>Midnight's Children</em> and <em>The Satanic Verses, </em> had his <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/14/salman-rushdie-facebook_n_1092828.html" target="_hplink">Facebook account suspended</a> in 2011 because of what Facebook perceived to be a name discrepancy. While Rushdie's first name is Ahmed, the world knows him by his middle name, Salman. The social network told the author that he wold have to use his first name on his profile. "Dear #Facebook, forcing me to change my FB name from Salman to Ahmed Rushdie is like forcing J. Edgar to become John Hoover," Rushdie sounded off on <a href="https://twitter.com/SalmanRushdie/status/136136147398168576" target="_hplink">his twitter account </a>following the incident. Facebook later restored <a href="https://www.facebook.com/rushdie" target="_hplink">his profile</a>.
Coordinate Hack Attacks
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZNDV4hGUGw" target="_hplink">Operation Payback</a> was a plot from the infamous hacker group Anonymous to take down Visa's website after the credit card company cut off donations to Wikileaks. Hackers gathered on both Facebook and Twitter to plan and promote an attack, causing their accounts to be suspended on the social networking sites, <a href="http://www.zdnet.com/news/wikileaks-hackers-attack-visa-get-banned-by-facebook-twitter/490442" target="_hplink">according to ZDNet. </a>
Take Odd Pics Of Your Kids
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/27/lauren-ferrari-banned-facebook-breastfeeding_n_1709928.html" target="_hplink">Lauren Ferrari was banned from Facebook</a> for seven days after she posted a photo of her 5-year-old pretending to nurse her younger sibling. While Ferrari didn't think much of the image when she uploaded it, both Facebook and the police found the photo to be problematic. The Seattle Police Department said her actions showed "poor parenting," which sparked an online controversy about what should and should not be put online.
Spam Your 'Friends'
Adam Guerbuez was fined $873 million after sending out more than 4 million spam messages about penis-enlargements, porn and marijuana, <a href="http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/207046/facebook_spammer_tries_to_cash_in_on_873_million_fine.html" target="_hplink">according to PC World</a>. This behavior got Guerbuez kicked off of Facebook and caused him to file for bankruptcy in 2010.
Pretend You're Over 13 When You're Not
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/23/facebook-underage-users_n_839437.html" target="_hplink">In 2011 Facebook's chief privacy adviser</a> said that an average of 20,000 underage Facebook user accounts are shut down each day. The social networking site has a strict policy stating that only those over the age of 13 are allowed to maintain a personal profile.
Add Script Or Code To The Site
<em>"Hello, Our systems indicate that you've been highly active on Facebook lately and viewing pages at a quick enough rate that we suspect you may be running an automated script."</em> How would you like to get that email from Facebook? That's exactly what happen to tech-blogger <a href="http://scobleizer.com/2008/01/03/ive-been-kicked-off-of-facebook/" target="_hplink">Robert Scoble</a>. Apparently he had added an address book importer to his Facebook account, but any additional script whatsoever just doesn't fly with this social media site. His account was restored after he "<a href="http://scobleizer.com/2008/01/03/ive-been-kicked-off-of-facebook/" target="_hplink">made a public stink</a>" about the ordeal online.