Recently by Lawrence A. Hunter: Arrest of Ex-Marine Points to Virginia’s Casual Disregard for the Constitution
On September 6, 2012, Revolution PAC, which I chair, submitted Freedom-of-Information-Act (FOIA) requests to eight state and local agencies and offices of the Commonwealth of Virginia demanding release of all information and communications relating to the Brandon J. Raub case. Mr. Raub, a former, decorated Marine who served with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan, was kidnapped on August 16 by a joint strike force of Virginia and Federal “law-enforcement” agents, after which they tried to “disappear” him into the Virginia psychiatric gulag without charging him with any wrongdoing.
What did Raub do to deserve this abuse and torment by the government? He posted comments on Facebook that were critical of the government, and it was a private Facebook page, to boot. It was only by the courageous efforts of his mother, a dedicated lawyer for liberty (John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute), and widespread protest about this abuse of government power by average people across the nation that Raub was saved from being stashed away and subjected to psychotropic drugs and brainwashing by government shrinks.
According to Whitehead, something is rotten in the Commonwealth of Virginia that goes way beyond just the Raub case:
“Every year in Virginia, more than 20,000 people are detained for civil commitment and whisked away just like Raub. Brandon Raub’s case exposed the seedy underbelly of a governmental system that seems to be targeting Americans – especially military veterans – for expressing their discontent over America’s rapid transition to a police state.”
Is there a massive government cover-up involving the Raub case, and perhaps many others, going on in Virginia? It’s too early to tell but the early returns are not encouraging.
It took the Virginia State Police, through its Public Relations Director, exactly 36 minutes to respond to our 10-page FOIA request, which asked for much more than simply the “documents,” to which the pro forma response refers:
“The Virginia State Police has no documents responsive to your request, in accordance with Code of Virginia Section 2.2-3704. You may wish to contact the primary law enforcement agency involved in this incident: Chesterfield County Police Department. The Chesterfield County Police Department’s mailing address is P.O. Box 148, Chesterfield, VA, 23832.”
Clearly, this is not a serious, good faith response to a lengthy and detailed FOIA request that demands not only “documents” but also all electronically stored information and communications (ESI). The FOIA request reads, in part:
“Paper Preservation of ESI is Inadequate
“As hard copies do not preserve electronic searchability or metadata, they are not an adequate substitute for, or cumulative of, electronically stored versions. If information exists in both electronic and paper forms, agencies should preserve both forms.”
Unless the Virginia State Police are simply outright lying, they are playing word games designed to avoid having to come clean with what they knew, what they did and when they knew and did it. The PR Director clearly already had her orders and a prepared response in hand ready to go based on the old propaganda tactic of responding only to the questions they want to answer and ignoring the rest.
It strains credulity to accept at face value in this day and age that Virginia State Police were unaware and uninvolved in a joint Virginia-Federal strike force clearly planned and coordinated well before the fact and carried out with precision and cooperation among local police and several different federal “law-enforcement” agencies. At a minimum, one would expect the Virginia State Police to have audio records of police transmissions connected with the Raub case, which the FOIA request specifically included.
It took Governor Bob McDonnell’s Deputy Chief of Staff exactly 113 minutes to respond with this brush-off:
“Thank you for contacting the Office of the Governor with your request outlined below. This Office has no records responsive to your request. To the extent you seek documents that may or may not be in the possession of other state agencies or local law enforcement, please contact those agencies directly with your request.”
Either the Governor’s Office is lying or the Governor has totally ignored the high-profile Raub incidents and has not even been briefed on the matter, accounts and records of which would fall within the purview of the FOIA request. Mendacity or dereliction, I don’t know which is worse.
What about the Attorney General’s Office? Only this, 28 hours and 58 minutes and four separate submissions later from the AG’s FOIA Administrator:
"I can confirm that your FOIA request was received and passed on to me, the FOIA Administrator, for handling. We have begun the process of determining whether or not this Office has documents responsive to your request and will provide you with a response within the statutory time frame. Thank you."
Which at least reveals that the AG is aware of the case and probably has seen the complete file on it. The question now is, will he respond in good faith and reveal the contents of this file or will he use the period “within the statutory time frame” to construct a Nixonian modified limited hang-out. Time will tell.
In the meantime, though, the most revealing of all responses thus far came from the Clerk of the Circuit Court that ended up releasing Mr. Raub on August 23:
“Pursuant to Code of Virginia Section 37.2-818 which requires the Court to keep confidential any recordings, records, reports and documents, this file was sealed by Judge W. Allan Sharrett and as such I have no authority to unseal the file.”
This section of the Virginia code ostensibly is intended to protect the privacy of people caught up in the civil-commitment web, and it provides for the person held under civil-commitment proceedings to obtain the file. Additionally, however, the statute also provides that anyone else may request access to the Court’s file, in which case the Court is required to unseal the file “if it finds that such disclosure is in the best interest of the person who is the subject of the hearing or of the public.”
Whitehead has stated publicly that Raub intends to sue the FBI, and presumably during the process of discovery, Mr. Raub will seek access to the sealed file. But, as I wrote in this space earlier, and especially in light of the apparently promiscuous use of civil commitment in Virginia, much more is at stake than simply Mr. Raub’s civil suit against the FBI, notwithstanding its extraordinary importance:
"These Orwellian actions and this criminal conspiracy between Virginia and federal officials are so outrageous and so contrary to the precepts of American and Virginian justice that the ramifications of these unlawful acts go far beyond the harm done to Mr. Raub; they undermine the constitutional foundations of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Therefore, all communications related to these incidents that occurred among Virginia agencies and personnel and with federal officials should be released to the public without delay."
Therefore, the Circuit Court’s response to Revolution PAC’s FOIA request is far from adequate. Either the Court must open the file to public scrutiny or explain why, in its opinion such disclosure is not in the best interest of the public. Strong letter to follow.
So far, we have not received any response to our FOIA request from either the Chesterfield Police or the Commonwealth Attorney for Chesterfield County. Stay tuned.