Because The VA And The Justice Department Have Nothing Better To Do.

Flags in VA fence.

We have written many times about the dysfunctional Veterans Administration which has problems with bad employees, bad management, lack of accountability, and even abuse of the very men and women they are charged to serve, America’s veterans.

The Justice Department often seems just as bad, choosing not to prosecute certain lawbreakers while going after those that at best, have broken minor offenses.

With all those issues – the VA being an enclave and poster child for incompetence and the Justice Department acting like a political advocate rather than seeking justice – we are still stunned at the depth of the stupidity in the VA and Justice Department going after elderly Army veteran Robert Rosebrock.

Rosebrock and his friends have for years gathered weekly at the Great Lawn Gate entrance to Veterans Park in Los Angeles. They gathered to protest in their own way the treatment of vets and homeless vets by the VA. One of Rosebrock’s complaints is that the VA complex in question has a large green area where homeless vets could potentially camp and get off the streets where they were in danger. The VA is not allowing them to camp on the grounds.

In 2010, Rosebrock was arrested for the “crime” of hanging an American flag with the union (the blue field and stars) facing down. Displaying the flag that way is considered a distress symbol and Rosebrock was trying to make the statement that the veterans were in distress because of the VA.

However, there is a law against posting “placards or materials” on VA property. (38 CFR 1.218)

(Apparently it is not permitted to say the VA is incompetent on VA property.)

The twist in the case came when others were allowed to post flags with the union up. Those folks were not arrested but Rosebrock was.

Rosebrock and the ACLU sued the VA under the First Amendment. There was also the issue of the inconsistency of enforcement of the law in that the VA was allowing the flag to be flown with the union up, but not with the union down.

That case made it all the way to the 9th Circuit which ruled that because the VA had issued new directives that required their officers to enforce the law equally and not with respect to whether the flag was upside down or right side up, the issue of Rosebrock’s actions were moot. The “policy change” after Rosebrock’s arrest made the case “go away” in the mind of the court.

While that ended that particular case, it did not end Rosebrock’s actions and protests.

On Memorial Day of 2016, Rosebrock was arrested at the VA for putting two 4″ X 6″ flags in the fence around the VA facility. (See image above.) He was also charged with photographing the VA police officer and the grounds of the VA.

(The statute actually has a $50 fine for “unauthorized photography” on the grounds of VA facilities.)

On April 14, 2017, the court told the VA to drop the photography charge against Rosebrock on First Amendment grounds. Judicial Watch, who defended Rosebrock, reported:

The photography-related charges stemmed from allegations that Rosebrock took photographs of VA police on Memorial Day 2016 and Sunday, June 12, 2016, without VA permission. In rejecting the VA photography charges, U.S. Magistrate Judge Steve Kim ruled that the regulation, as applied to the Great Lawn, was not reasonable under even the most lenient First Amendment standard. The VA attempted to justify its regulation as necessary to guard against invasive and distracting media activities and protect veterans’ privacy. The court rejected that claim, finding that if the VA wanted to protect veterans’ privacy, it would ban all photography, not just photography for news, commercial, or advertising purposes.

The court also found that the reasons offered by the VA for banning news photography on the Great Lawn was inconsistent with the numerous non-Veteran and non-therapeutic uses of the lawn allowed by the VA, which include using the lawn in the past for the LA Marathon, the San Francisco-Los Angeles Lifecycle cycling tour and fundraiser, celebrity carnivals/fundraiser, and parking for a PGA tournament. Rather than dismiss the photography charges, however, the court gave the VA the opportunity to drop the charges before Tuesday’s trial. If the VA fails to drop the photography charge, the court will dismiss them.

Judicial Watch had also asked the Court to dismiss the charge stemming from putting the two American flags in the fence of the VA facility. The Court declined to do so which meant Rosebrock and his lawyers from Judicial Watch would head to trial.

On April 17, 2017, the Court found Rosebrock not guilty.

Judicial Watch today announced that a California U.S. District Court has ruled that 75-year-old veteran Robert Rosebrock is not guilty of violating federal law for displaying two four by six inch American Flags above a Veterans Affairs (VA) fence on Memorial Day, May 30, 2016. The rulings were handed down in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (United States of America v. Robert L. Rosebrock, (CC11, 4920201; 4920202; 6593951).

Rosebrock had been charged with desecrating the VA grounds by hanging the displaying the two napkin-sized American Flags on a section of the fence adjacent to the Great Lawn Gate at the entrance to the Veterans Park. Rosebrock attorneys pointed out that in the past the grounds had been repeatedly used for such events as bike races, running marathons, and Halloween Parties.

Rosebrock, 75, and fellow veterans, have been assembling at the site nearly every Sunday and Memorial Day since March 9, 2008, to protest what they believe is the VA’s failure to make full use of the valuable West Los Angeles property for the benefit and care of veterans, particularly homeless veterans.

From Fox News:

U.S. Magistrate Judge Steve Kim ruled that the government failed to show evidence that Rosebrock was told he was not permitted to post the flag and that he physically put the flag on the fence.

It should be noted that this case crossed Presidential administration lines. The original case was filed during the Obama administration and the trials took place under the Trump administration. Either way, the conduct of the government is just baffling.

[Lead defense attorney Robert Patrick] Sticht said his co-counsel, Judicial Watch Director of Litigation Paul Orfanedes, reached out to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to request the Trump administration make a “fresh assessment” of the charges, but did not receive a response.

“It remains amazing to me that the Justice Department went forward with those charges. It shows they don’t want a spotlight on what they are going at the VA facility in LA,” Sticht told Fox News.

Thom Mrozek, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California, says the decision to go forward was made by the local office and was in response to Rosebrock’s actions.

He told Fox News there never was any intention of jailing Rosebrock, but after multiple citations given to him by the VA, “we had to take some kind of action.”

Mrozek said what happens next will be determined by Rosebrock’s actions and how the VA chooses to respond to any future protests.

We cannot understand that with all of the garbage going on within the VA why it and the Justice Department decided to prosecute a 75 year old Army vet over pictures and two small flags.

What is some of that garbage?

In late March / early April of this year, the Inspector General of the VA released an interim report on the condition of the Washington DC VA facility:

A new report by the VA inspector general that says the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center has several alarming problems and is placing patients at unnecessary risk has led to the removal of its medical director from his position.

The VA Office of the Inspector General’s Rapid Response team came to the medical center on March 29 to begin its investigation and also returned for another visit last week.

According to the preliminary report released on Wednesday, it was found the medical center ran out of supplies needed for patient procedures and had to borrow them from a private hospital.

The team also found no effective inventory system to manage supplies and medical equipment used for patients. More than $150 million of equipment had reportedly not been inventoried in the last year and were unaccounted for.

The report also says 18 of the 25 sterile satellite storage areas for supplies were dirty and there was no system in place to ensure recalled products were not used on patients.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Note that the Medical Director was removed from his position. He was not fired. The VA then promoted from within and named another person as “acting Medical Director” only to realize that the guy they promoted was responsible for the state of the facility and so the VA brought in another guy from outside the facility and named him the new “acting Medical Director. The first acting Medical Director was not fired either.)

More garbage:

Federal authorities are stepping up investigations at Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers due to a sharp increase in opioid theft, missing prescriptions or unauthorized drug use by VA employees since 2009, according to government data obtained by The Associated Press.

Doctors, nurses or pharmacy staff at federal hospitals — the vast majority within the VA system — siphoned away controlled substances for their own use or street sales, or drugs intended for patients simply disappeared.

Aggravating the problem is that some VA hospitals have been lax in tracking drug supplies. Congressional auditors said spot checks found four VA hospitals skipped monthly inspections of drug stocks or missed other requirements. Investigators said that signals problems for VA’s entire network of more than 160 medical centers and 1,000 clinics, coming after auditor warnings about lax oversight dating back to at least 2009.


Reported incidents of drug losses or theft at federal hospitals jumped from 272 in 2009 to 2,926 in 2015, before dipping to 2,457 last year, according to DEA data obtained by AP. “Federal hospitals” include the VA’s more than 1,100 facilities as well as seven correctional hospitals and roughly 20 hospitals serving Indian tribes.

And then there is this garbage:

DURHAM, N.C. – A couple posted photos on Facebook and said veterans waited for hours in pain inside the Durham VA Medical Center.

Stephen McMenamin, a former U.S. Marine, was there for treatment, and his wife took the pictures.

“My wife found it upsetting, so she took a couple pictures,” he said.

He said a veteran on the ground was using his bag of medication for a pillow after being denied an available reclining chair.

“The nurse started yelling at him, telling him he can’t do that. He’s like, ‘I can’t get up and I won’t get up. I will be here until you can see me. Can I please have a blanket?’” McMenamin said.

So while the VA has massive mismanagement issues, drugs stolen and unaccounted for and abusing vets, the VA and the Justice Department decided that some 75 year old vet needed to be taught a lesson because of a picture and two small flags on a fence.

Yeah, they have their priorities right.

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