In the latest case of veterans’ persecution, Navy Veteran Mark Paffrath was fired from his job after the Department of Homeland Security pressured his employer following a Facebook post of photos that Paffrath had taken of DHS vehicles in Ferguson. He was also called a terrorist and threatened with incarceration:
“He called me a terrorist and said I dishonorably served my country for posting those pictures and the short video,” he said. “Then, he gave me a threat that if I were to repost the pictures that I would be locked up and have DHS knocking on my door and all that other stuff.”
This is reminiscent of the 2012 case against Marine Corps Veteran Brandon Raub who was apprehended by the FBI from his home, without charges, after he made Facebook posts questioning the official government narrative of 9/11 (1). Authorities declared Raub mentally unstable, attempted to lock him away in a psychiatric ward for 30 days, and even tried to forcibly medicate him (3). With intervention from Civil Rights Attorney John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, Raub was eventually released and The Rutherford Institute is suing the government on his behalf for violation of civil liberties. The case is currently being appealed in The United States Court of Appeals
For The Fourth Circuit after having been initially dismissed in March (2).
Unfortunately, Paffrath and Raub are not the only veterans that have been targeted by the federal government. As noted previously, all returning veterans, especially right-wingers, have been given a blanket label of possible domestic terrorists by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. What’s more, the government now has the medical justification to label all political dissenters as mentally unfit. According to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013, Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a mental illness characterized by “a pattern of disobedient, hostile, and defiant behavior toward authority figures (4).” While originally intended as a diagnosis for unruly children (most likely as an excuse to medicate them), ODD has more recently been extended to include adults as well. Dr. Russell A. Barkley, a clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina, says that adults with ODD may feel “mad at the world” and may even consider themselves “rebels or mavericks” (5). On the other hand, some practicing psychologists such as Dr. Bruce E. Levine have publicly declared Oppositional Defiant Disorder as a form of psychiatric abuse. In his article How Teenage Rebellion Has Become a Mental Illness, Levine states:
It would certainly be a dream of Big Pharma and those who favor an authoritarian society if every would-be Tom Paine — or Crazy Horse, Tecumseh, Emma Goldman or Malcolm X — were diagnosed as a youngster with mental illness and quieted with a lifelong regimen of chill pills. The question is: Has this dream become reality? (6)
This “Huxleian” Brave New World scenario in which psychiatry is used as a political weapon was realized in the former Soviet Union. John Whitehead outlines how the field of psychiatry was used for authoritarian political purposes in the U.S.S.R. and goes on to compare it with the treatment of Brandon Raub. He writes:
The advent of psychiatry eliminated the need to exile political prisoners, allowing governments instead to declare such dissidents mentally ill and unfit for society. For example, government officials in the Cold War-era Soviet Union often used psychiatric hospitals as prisons in order to isolate political prisoners from the rest of society, discredit their ideas, and break them physically and mentally through the use of electric shocks, drugs and various medical procedures. Insisting that “ideas about a struggle for truth and justice are formed by personalities with a paranoid structure,” the psychiatric community actually went so far as to provide the government with a diagnosis suitable for locking up such freedom-oriented activists (7).
Luckily in the United States, there is still a legal process to undergo before being adjudicated mentally unfit for the purposes of committing someone to a psychiatric ward and stripping them of their civil rights (like owning firearms). However, as was shown in the Brandon Raub case, some of those in the judicial system, such as Magistrate Michael S. Znotens who initially signed off on Raub’s imprisonment, are more than willing to declare political dissidents as mentally unstable for this very purpose. Shortly after the Raub case went public, Whitehead told reporters that his firm was contacted by numerous veterans around the country who were experiencing similar situations (9). “We are advising veterans being visited by the FBI or the Secret Service to take the Fifth Amendment rather than answer questions that might end up with a diagnosis of PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, which goes into the veteran’s file and can be used in the future to prevent the veteran from purchasing a firearm,” he said. However, he notes that while there usually isn’t enough evidence to obtain a search warrant from a judge, “if the veteran answers questions, the Secret Service or the FBI might get a psychiatrist to visit with the vet for 10 or 15 minutes in the jail cell to acquire enough information to certify in front of a judge that the person should be placed in a civil commitment because of a psychological problem (9).
In 2013, civil rights watchdog United States Justice Foundation (USJF) filed a lawsuit on behalf of veterans who claimed that they were unfairly stripped of civil liberties after being declared mentally unfit by the Veterans Administration (10). Michael Connelly, Executive Director, said, “The USJF has received numerous complaints from military veterans around the country who are being declared incompetent to handle their own financial affairs and then told that they can no longer purchase or own firearms or ammunition. This determination is being made without due process protections for the veterans and the basis for the incompetency ruling is often arbitrary and without a factual or legal basis.” (11) UPDATE: Read the latest on this case from Connelly here.
Whitehead describes the process of declaring politically outspoken veterans in America as mentally unfit “with one stroke of a magistrate’s pen” for the purpose of disarming them as “diabolically genius” (7). In 2012, the Department of Justice initiated a pilot program to better train local SWAT teams how to confront veterans suffering from PTSD citing “an urgent need to de-escalate crises in which even SWAT teams may be facing tactical disadvantages against mentally ill suspects who also happen to be trained in modern warfare” (8). Of this program, Dennis Cusick, executive director of the Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute stated, “We just can’t use the blazing-guns approach anymore when dealing with disturbed individuals who are highly trained in all kinds of tactical operations, including guerrilla warfare” (8). Statements like this reaffirm that, despite what leading public officials in the federal government state regarding the need to help returning veterans, their primary concern for years has been how to silence them, disarm them, and if need be, kill them.
The question remains: how far will this political abuse of psychiatric medicine and the judicial system by the federal government go, and what recourse will political dissidents take if they can no longer rely on fair treatment under due process? Share your comments below.
1. The Case of Brandon Raub http://wvtf.org/post/case-brandon-raub
2. Shrink diagnoses Marine ‘dangerous’ without ever seeing him http://www.wnd.com/2014/08/shrink-diagnoses-marine-dangerous-without-ever-seeing-him/#MyowHAyf0bXSsrHW.99
3. Interview with civil rights attorney John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8XuQWsXsZo&feature=plcp
4. Oppositional Defiant Disorder http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002504/
5. Short Fuse? Could be Adult Oppositional Defiant Disorder http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/9139.html
6. How Teenage Rebellion Has Become a Mental Illness http://www.alternet.org/story/75081/how_teenage_rebellion_has_become_a_mental_illness
8. USA Today Police get help with vets who are ticking time bombs http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2012-01-24/police-training-combative-veterans/52794974/1
9. Troops targeted by NSA for anti-Obama views http://www.wnd.com/2013/06/troops-targeted-by-nsa-for-anti-obama-views/#p9uuOGbVATqAvKwW.99
10. United States Justice Foundation v. Burns et al http://dockets.justia.com/docket/california/casdce/3:2013cv00945/412553/ and http://foiaproject.org/case_detail/?title=on&style=foia&case_id=22891
11. Suit Filed Against the VA https://www.usjf.net/2013/04/suit-filed-against-the-va/
Read more cases here:
Decorated Combat Veteran Arrested In New York: Charged With 5 Felonies For Possession of AR Magazines
Veteran pleads not guilty to 1st SAFE Act violation
Another Veteran Raided & His Firearms Confiscated – Must Appear Before Judge For Mental Evaluation/Alert
Elbert County veteran seeking millions for terrorist comment