ROCKWELL: Well, good morning. Welcome to the Lew Rockwell Show. And how great to have as our guest this morning, Mr. John Whitehead. John is a constitutional lawyer. He’s the author of The Change Manifesto. He’s the founder and the president of the Rutherford Institute.
So, John, you’ve been the legal defender of political prisoner, Brandon Raub. What happened to him has, I think, and I hope gotten the whole freedom movement – everybody is concerned about the growing American police state – very, very upset. Why don’t you start from the beginning, tell us how he was targeted by the FBI and by the other agencies, how he was seized without any charges, put in a psychiatric ward and so forth, and where you intervened, and just tell us the story.
WHITEHEAD: Yeah, last Thursday, August 16th, the police arrived at his home, FBI agents. One fellow supposedly identified himself as a Secret Service agent. And Brandon saw them coming. He was in his house, in his shorts, so he walked out on the front porch and greeted them and asked them what they were doing there, and they said they were investigating his Facebook posts. So he said he started to try to explain to them his viewpoints. He’s essentially a Ron Paul Libertarian, a 9/11 Truther, and he said that he got about a minute out, of information, they swarmed around him, handcuffed him behind his back. And he asked to put his clothes on. They said no. They took him out to a police car, stuffed him into a police car and drove him off.
So what happened was he’s made some controversial posts. A lot of them were on a private game group that he was playing on Facebook with his sister and his brother. And they took him away to the John Randolph Medical Center, which is a psychiatric institution.
The thing about Brandon is he’s served in Iraq, Afghanistan. He’s a decorated Marine, a combat engineer. His expertise is in defusing bombs.
And we talked yesterday. They’ve shipped him to another psychiatric ward, and we’ll get to that in a second. But there was a picture on the website for a while of him holding a rifle. And it was in Afghanistan, but he actually got that from a terrorist. He said he was so proud – (laughter) – that he had disarmed the terrorist, so he had his picture taken with it. And, you know, people were using that, saying this guy is crazy, but he’s very lucid. I’ve had a lot of good conversations with him.
So basically, he was quoting a rock group called Swollen Members. I’ve read the lyrics. They are kind of radical, obviously. And the FBI got into – somehow got into his private Facebook grouping and read what he was saying, and that’s how they targeted him.
Well, they had a hearing just this Monday. And amazingly so, some of the statements that were attributed to him on Facebook were actually things his brother said in the private grouping. So they didn’t even have their case together.
So based on his right to free speech, his beliefs on the 9/11 conspiracy theories, this is what this case is all about. So it’s really a free-speech issue.
But the alarming thing here, as I’ve gotten into this case – obviously, I’ve been in this area for 40 years handling cases – this is the creepiest case I’ve ever handled. This case gives me the creeps. I did not really realize how many people are civilly committed in the United States. There are 20,000 people just in Virginia alone each year this happens to.
The thing with Brandon, his mother is very articulate. She got on Facebook, the Internet and started screaming about this. So this weekend, I got some veterans call me and said, Whitehead, you’ve got to check this thing out. I called the mother and talked to her. I said this is nuts, and talked to Brandon, and then we got involved in the case. So now we’ve filed a number of motions.
Actually, he was meeting with two of our attorneys Tuesday and, in the middle of the meeting, they came in and removed Brandon and said, we’re moving him three and a half hours away to a facility in Salem, Virginia, a V.A. psych ward there. And they just removed him and took him away. I talked to him yesterday on the phone. Again, he’s very happy that this has gone viral; that people are actually discussing the issues.
But, you know, he had a 15-minute psychological evaluation when they took him in. That’s it. A psychologist. So I think this is very alarming. This is not only happening to him but, like I say, over 20,000 people in Virginia alone.
So the other night, I had a number of veterans – Oath Keepers and a number of the veterans groups call me, and they said they’re very concerned because veterans are reporting that – and these are 9/11 Truther veterans – but the FBI is showing up and questioning their viewpoints.
But the question I would have, is this America? Do we have free speech anymore? And these are really important issues.
You said, “The coming police state,” I think the police state is already here. I think there – if you tweet or do text messages, the corporations are giving that over to the police. I mean, they’re issuing a lot of National Security Letters. I think, what, 20,000 a year or something like that, the FBI, just to get information on what we’re saying on the Internet. So this case has big ramifications.
ROCKWELL: And, of course, it’s also reminiscent of what they used to do in the Soviet Union, making use of psychiatry as the arm of the state. Dr. Tom Szasz would argue it’s always been an arm of the state, psychology as well as psychiatry. And so they would pick up people, hold them indefinitely, medicate them against their will and put them into psychiatric wards, people who were political dissidents. So the U.S. is following a well-worn path.
WHITEHEAD: Yeah, I think so. And it was just strange. The hearing Monday, the judge was hard of hearing. He’s an older fellow. He had trouble hearing Brandon on the witness stand. Now, this is dealing with a decorated Marine. You know, this hearing, the judge is sitting there, he can’t hardly hear Brandon on the stand. The judge brings in a tiny tape recorder and that’s what he used to tape the hearing. And we’ve tried to listen to tape. It’s difficult. But this is dealing with someone – this is how they’re handling this. We’re dealing with people’s lives. They’re putting them in prison. And – (laughter) – it’s like a kangaroo situation.
So we filed three motions. We’re trying to get him back, closer to his family in Richmond, out of this Salem institution. There’s a hearing on that today. We’ve also filed a motion in the Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia attacking this entire hearing process. This is the First Amendment we’re talking about. But I also think we’re talking about the Fourth Amendment here. Should the government be sneaking onto our websites, our Facebook posts and doing surveillance on us without a court order? I say, of course, not. But they’re doing that.
ROCKWELL: John, what about forced medication, which, of course, they would always do in the Soviet Union. It happens to a lot of these people who are civilly committed. They don’t want to take these psychiatric medications that Big Pharma produces, but they’re forced to it. Has this happened to Brandon? Do you fear it might happen?
WHITEHEAD: No. The first thing I talked to him about was the medication issue. And he said he was not going to be medicated; they would have to force him. Thank god the judge, Monday, in the hearing, did not order that. A judge has to order forced medication. I talked to him yesterday. He’s three and a half hours away in this new facility, away from us. We talked about the medications issue again, and he said he’s not going to take it unless they force him. But they have to get a court order.
But the man is so lucid. I mean, sitting and talking to him, I’ve Skyped with him, he’s extremely lucid. I mean, there’s no problems. I mean, yesterday, it was kind of funny. He was laughing. He said he had a short meeting with a group of psychologists and a case worker, and they asked him if he heard voices. His response was, “No, do you”?
And he said they looked at each other, and he said, “They’re crazy.”
It’s based on his Facebook posts. I mean, the question – I mean, I think it was Tuesday, I was sitting here working on this case for Brandon Raub and I got an e-mail from some Republican group calling for a revolution. I thought – (laughter) – wow, they could be committed. I mean, so all it takes is maybe a phone call from somebody reading your Facebook posts. That’s all it takes to get you similarly committed. 20,000 people alone in Virginia, so this is a national trend. I think you mentioned it. It’s sort of the psycho-therapeutic state we’re moving into where people can disappear.
But, again, the saving thing here was his mom. She got up and started screaming about it. You know, she’s a patriot. So is the son. He loves his country. He just thinks it’s going in a bad direction.
ROCKWELL: The mother’s example is one for all of us when we – if I can quote one of my least-favorite people, “If you see something, say something.” Right? If you see an outrage –
WHITEHEAD: Yeah. All right.
ROCKWELL: – and an injustice taking place, talk about it. Talk about it on the web. Talk about it to your friends. Don’t just let these injustices happen in silence.
WHITEHEAD: And the thing here is, the bigger issue here is just the government watching us. I think that’s really important.
The second thing is, and I tell people – I’ve been doing this for a long time – you’ve got to take a stand. I mean, take a stand for people. I mean, when I first got into this case, a few people said, “Why would you get involved with this guy”? I said, “Because I talked to him. I’ve studied the issues.” They say, “Most people want to run and hide.” But we can’t run and hide today because we’re not moving into a police state. We’re already in a police state. There’s no doubt about that. I mean, you have to realize, Obama signed legislation allowing drones to fly over America by 2015. They’re already flying over America. I mean, we’re going to have drones watching every part of our homes, our streets, our marches, whatever we want to do. So if there’s a time to fight back, it’s now. There isn’t tomorrow. The future is now. Fiction has become reality.
And, again, the other thing that struck me about this, because, if you’ve seen the movie, Minority Report –
WHITEHEAD: – or read the Philip K. Dick, this is pre-crime. They’re trying to predict crime. Well, these are cops, average people. They can’t predict crime by reading what someone says. Someone said, “Well, how would you have handled this”? Well, if I had been a policeman, if I had been concerned, I would have went to Brandon, knocked on his door, and said, “Hey, can I come in and talk to you for a minute.”
This is the other thing. They didn’t have a search warrant and they couldn’t get one because he didn’t commit a crime. They’re not charging – he has not been charged with a crime. The police and FBI say, we’re not charging him with a crime. If they would have gotten a search warrant, they would have found out, in his home, he doesn’t even own a weapon. He doesn’t own a gun. So what’s he going to do, poke somebody in the eye? It’s ridiculous.
ROCKWELL: Well, of course, he’s being charged, as you’ve pointed out, with a thought crime.
WHITEHEAD: Yes, a thought crime. Exactly. Free speech. I’m not being a conspiratorialist here, but I do believe there are people in the government who don’t like the 9/11 Truthers. That’s what we’re hearing from veterans. They’re being investigated.
But I would say this to veterans. If you believe that, speak out on it. Call your government into question. I mean, our freedoms are hanging in the balance. Like I said, the police state is not coming, it’s already here.
And I think Brandon Raub – as you said, this is very similar to what the Soviet Union used to do. And if you want – if people haven’t read 1984, I mean, in that book, O’Brien medicates Winston, so it’s very similar. I’ve often said I think our government is reading 1984 and trying to – (laughter) – model their actions after it.
ROCKWELL: Or Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s novel, Cancer Ward, which is about exactly this sort of treatment of dissidents.
WHITEHEAD: Yeah, and that’s where it’s going, I think. The way to get rid of dissidents is this kind of stuff.
But the thing about Brandon, he was so overjoyed yesterday. I was talking to him. He was really happy. This is a guy – (laughter) – in a mental ward, who has done nothing. But he was so happy when I told him it was going viral; people were talking about it. I said, “Your message is getting out there and the reason is because you spoke your mind. You may be getting punished for it now, but you’ve done a real service to the country.”
ROCKWELL: John Whitehead, thank you so much for the service you’re doing. And, of course, we’ll link to your LRC archive, to the Rutherford Institute. And keep it up. And, if I may, we’ll get back in touch with you and see what’s happening and keep up to date on this very, very important case.
WHITEHEAD: Thank you for your good work, Lew, too. Thank you very much. Bye-bye.
ROCKWELL: Let me leave you with some breaking news since my interview with John Whitehead. A judge has ruled, pursuant to John’s suit, from the Rutherford Institute, that Brandon Raub should be freed. So I don’t believe he’s actually free yet. Typically, judges allow the federal government or any other government to make their case as to why a man like this should not be freed. But this is very good news. It could be, of course, an honest judge. One can’t entirely rule that out. It could also be that the vast outpouring of outrage all across this country, indeed, all across the world – I mean, this is a worldwide phenomenon of people sort of seeing the truth about the U.S. government, that it would do such a thing to this young man. It’s made the feds back down. So whatever it is, honest judge, public outrage, a combination of things, great lawsuit, we hope that by the time you hear this, Brandon Raub will be free, back in his home, and out of the clutches of the psychiatric police who do so much damage to so many people.
Well, thanks so much for listening to the Lew Rockwell Show today. Take a look at all the podcasts. There have been hundreds of them. There’s a link on the upper right-hand corner of the LRC front page. Thank you.