Wednesday, July 13, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Barack betrays another promise (this time on Iraqi refugees), Nouri continues his war on peaceful protesters, extending the US military presence in Iraq continues to be pushed, and more.
Mahdi Nazemroaya: In regards to France, I have to point out that the Defense Minister of France made a statement which didn't please the United States. He said, we're willing to -- essentially, this is what he said -- we're willing to stop if there's political discussion and if Muammar Gaddafi switches his place in the government. It's not a total withdrawal, they're basically saying something symbolic. NATO's running out of steam here, the assessment is that they have 90 days to end this war, Ramadan which is a Muslim holy day is coming up, in September, I believe. [August 1st through 29th is Ramadan this year.] They have to end this war by that time. So they're looking for an exit strategy. This is what all this talk about negotiations is about because if anybody who follows the news and the news wires will see that the Libyan regime, Muammar Gaddafi and his government have been asking for negotiations from the beginning. The African Union has. Venezuela offered to be a negotiator between both sides or a go-between. Everybody has. The Chinese, the Russians have called for negotiations. The people that prevented it were the Obama administration, Mr. Sarkozy in Paris, Prime Minister Cameron in London and NATO. They're the ones who pushed it. And I have to point something out, the Italian prime minister said something very important about a meeting with David Cameron and Mr. Sarkozy. The president of France and the prime minister of Britain both said that the campaign should not end until there is a revolt in Tripoli against Col Gaddafi and his regime. What this signifies is that the intentions of these bombings was to create a revolt. The bombings did not start because there was a revolt, the intention was to create a revolt from the bombings, to make the people get fed up with Gaddafi and to overthrow him to end the bombings. That is what the intention was. That is why there's a siege on Tripoli and Libya. That's why they're bombing civilian sites. And I want to clarify, they bombed food storage places, medical clinics, hospitals, a place for children, a place for Down Syndrome, civilian residential areas, university campuses. These are the types of places they bombed. This was punishment on the Libyan people. And it backfired because it made Gaddafi very, very popular in Libya and across in Africa.
Kevin Pina: And you're listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio and that is the voice of Mahdi Nazemroaya our special correspondent coming to us direct from Tripoli, in Libya. We're discussing the situation on the ground there. Mahdi, I also understand there were some recent bombings again happening over Tripoli. What has, in the last two weeks that you've been there, can you just summarize what has been the overall impact of the NATO bombing campaign on the ground in the capitol of Libya?
Mahdi Nazemroaya: Well Kevin, there's been so many bombings and overhead flights by NATO war planes that I've lost track. That's the honest truth. They have been flying overhead and bombing. I hear bombings when I'm in the shower, I hear bombings when I'm outside. I hear their planes. It's hard to keep track. It's on the news, the Libyan TV talks about it. The [foreign] journalists here don't really cover it because it's not an issue for them. They're more concerned about making the Libyan government look bad. So they've bombed and this bombing has backfired. Instead of getting the population against the government, it's brought everybody together. It's unified the country. There's a new spirit. There's an actual call for global revolution again in Libya. Libya, for a long time the Libyans saw themselves as the center for global revolution. That's actually in the youth again. So when I talk to people in the street -- and I mean regular Libyans and Libyan society as a whole -- the youth, the elderly, children, people who have nothing to do with officialdom or the Libyan state -- they are in a state of high morale, they are totally against NATO and many of them now support Col Gaddafi -- even the ones who were his political opponents and disliked the man and his family and his son Saif al-Islam now support the man. This has brought the country together and this has backfired on NATO. This has totally backfired on them and it was a very big strategic mistake. The thing is that they thought this would be done in a matter of days, maybe in two weeks, something like that. But it wasn't. It wasn't a walk in the park for them at all.
Kevin Pina: And you're listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio and that is the voice of Mahdi Nazemroaya coming to us direct from Tripoli in Libya. And, Mahdi, we also hear reports that the rebels over the last week have taken several strategic towns and are making a drive towards the capitol of Tripoli and according to a lot of the western reports that we're hearing, their morale is equally high. So in a lot of ways, these two reports, one that we're hearing in Tripoli and the other that we're hearing from journalists embedded with the so-called rebels, are very inconsistent. How do we make sense of this inconsistency?
Mahdi Nazemroaya: Well let me say that I know some of these journalists and I knew some of these journalists before they left Tripoli, such as the ones in Misrata. I will point out that I personally -- on a personal basis -- question their professionalism, I question their intent in this country, alright? That's from my personal experience with them. In regards to towns falling like Sabha which they claim fell and its environs they took all the journalists who were willing to go to that city in Fezzan, I want to visit that city as well, it's in the south. They said it fell. It didn't. They said the gates of Tripoli had been reached. They hadn't. They've said that neighborhoods have fallen, they haven't. They've said that mosques have been closed, they haven't. I read those reports saying mosques have been closed and there's fighting every night. There isn't fighting every night. There is some fighting. That's true. At Tripoli, sometimes there's one or two people firing out of God knows where but that's only to destabilize this place and it's part of the psychological operation against this country. And I will let you know that there are special forces on the ground in Tripoli and they're here for sabotage and to break the morale here. They want regime change. And I'll tell you, NATO is not going to win this war. This war is unwinnable. And if they invade this country, they're fools.
Last week, thug and First Lady of Iraq Moqtada al-Sadr was explaining who was to be socially welcomed and who was to be socially shunned. AFP reported that collaborators with the US would be shunned. AFP (and Moqtada) did not note that the US Embassy in Baghdad hopes to pull in the local population as contractors in 2012 and 2013. That would be more difficult if they're threatened and the man who issues fatawas loves to threaten. AFP reported, "Asked about whether Iraqis who had worked with the Americans as drivers, cleaners, builders or in other menial jobs could work with a government led by his movement, the cleric replied: 'yes they can, but not in administrative work,' suggesting they would not rise above low-ranking positions." Current workers are to be shunned and translators are social pariah according to Moqtada.
In today's New York Times, Tim Arango reports that it is these groups Moqtada has labeled undesirables -- "especially interpreters for the military" -- who are now suffering in the asylum process as they attempt to be granted admission to the United States. Arango notes, "Advocates say that the administration is ignoring a directive from Congress to draft a contingency plan to expedite visas should those Iraqis who worked for the United States government" and he notes that from October 2010 (start of the fiscal year) through last June, less "than 7,000 Iraqis have been admitted to the United States." If this trickle continues, Barack will be admitting less than George W. Bush was in his final year occupying the Oval Office. Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) adds, "A special program meant to distribute 25,000 visas to Iraqis who worked for the U.S. government has admitted just 7,000 since it started in 2008, officials said this week. In addition, the U.S. Refugee Admission Program, a global program that also admits Iraqis, will admit about 6,000 Iraqis this year, down from 18,000 in fiscal 2010."
Dr. Farrah Mateen: So the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees recognizes more than 40 million refugees in the world today and there are currently more than 30 active, armed conflicts and we know very little about neurological disease in humanitarian emergencies and in times of humanitarian crisis. The war in Iraq actually began more than eight years ago now, March 20, 2003. And the UNHCR recognizes more than 3.5 million persons of concern of Iraqi origin and currently there are more than 2 million refugees who live outside of Iraq. The United States as well as western Europe, Australia and Canada are major recipients of Iraqi refugees today and continue to be. Iraqi refugees often have to seek humanitarian assistance in the countries where they flee to.
Neither Arango nor O'Keefe's article indicate that they attempted to get an answer on what's going on from the person in charge of the US Iraqi refugee program. Candidate Barack Obama swore that if elected president he would provide $2 billion for Iraqi refugees. That has still not happened. What's going on? O'Keefe notes State Dept employees spoken to. But the State Dept isn't over this. This doesn't fall under Hillary Clinton's scope. You'd think it would because she is Secretary of State; however, Barack put the War Monger Samantha Power in charge of many things Iraq including Iraqi refugees. This was made clear by plus-size model and then-White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs on August 14, 2009 when he issued a statement which included:
Further to discussions that took place during Prime Minister Maliki's recent meetings in Washington, President Obama is pleased to announce that Samantha Power, Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the National Security Council in the White House, will coordinate the efforts of the many parts of the U.S. government on Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), including the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense.
So what happened? Samantha Power was too busy spreading lies about Libya? It was Power who came up with the lie that Libyan women were being raped -- by assailants on goverment provided viagra!!!!! -- and it was her cohort Susan Rice that was tasked with popularizing that lie. When The Problem From Hell's actions demonstrate that the self-described "humanitarian hawk" isn't at all concerned with humanity, you're just left with a power-mad buttinsky craving the blood of others. No, that doesn't sound like someone who should have been tasked with the Iraqi refugee issue.
Turning to another member of the administration, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's visit to Iraq this week has not yet resulted in more press covergae than former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' Never-Ending Farewell Tour but give it time. On the trip, he stated that the US military would defend itself against Iran whom Panetta alleges is supplying weapons to Iraqi militias and that it would defend itself against Iraqi militias such as Moqtada al-Sadr's militias.Al Mada reports that Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh stated that the US military would not do military operations against al-Sadr. (It's not in the article but I'm told on the phone that al-Dabbagh also declared yesterday that the Panetta is mistaken and no military action against Iran will take place using Iraq as a staging platform as a result of the existing outlines in the SOFA and the Strategic Framework Agreement.) Meanwhile the editorial board of New Hampshire's Sentinel Source observes:
Today, there are still 46,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, some dying in supposedly non-combat roles. And the White House has begun to indicate that it will keep as many as 10,000 there past the end-of-the-year deadline -- if the Iraqi government asks for them to stay. Press reports quote unidentified briefers and foreign diplomats as saying that plans for retaining the troops indefinitely are already under way.
The administration's intention is clear in the open invitation it is waiving in the face of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, hoping for a come-hither gesture.
18 US soldiers have died in the last six weeks. Michael Evans (Times of London via The Australian) notes that fact and points out, "US President Barack Obama's 'final withdrawal' deadline was supposed to be the day when he could tell the American people the war in Iraq was finally over -- not 'mission accoplished' as his predecessor declared prematurely in May 2003, but an end to the large-scale US troop presence there. If the US military is asked to stay, albeit in smaller numbers, the risk is that the troops remaining will become targets.
Al Mada reports that Nouri's coalition partners are stating they are not partners in the talks regarding withdrawal or extension, that they have been shut out of those discussions. It's stated that Nouri is taking over the issue and doing so claiming he's responsible for the security of Iraq. The article reminds that Nouri named himself Minister of the Interior, Minister of Defense and Minister of National Security -- instead of naming people to those posts. These days, the talk is of thinning the government posts. Why are there so many posts?
In part because Nouri lost the election. LOST. Last week, I was a little vocal here and very vocal over the phone to friends with NPR about their inability to file from Iraq. We won't rehash it all right now (right now, no promises about a later date) but in a month when 15 US soldiers died in the Iraq War, they had no report filed from Iraq. Their person in charge in Iraq? They'd sent her all over the Middle East. And we're going to leave it right there for now except to note that I did not attack the person in charge of the coverage. That's Kelly McEvers. This week I gave a link to her report on All Things Considered but didn't include it in a snapshot. Why not?
It wasn't a good report. I was being kind and including a link when asked (actually, when told, "You call me July 4th to gripe about the lack of coverage and now you can't link to it?"). Kelly McEvers 'reported,' "The trouble started in March of last year when the parties of Maliki and Allawi nearly tied in parliamentary elections. Then came months of fighting over who had the right to form a government. Once it was clear that Maliki had a large enough coalition in parliament, and that he would become prime minister, the question was what would happen to Allawi. " I'm not in the mood to be the remedial teacher who repeatedly has to correct the record. What's wrong with those three sentences?
Are they balanced? Hell ____ing no. They were 'nearly tied'? Well who won? Huh? Allawi won. Doesn't matter if you like Allawi or hate Allawi, his political slate won. Not "political parties" by the way. State Of Law -- Nouri's slate -- is a slate, not a political party. Dawa is Nouri's political party.
We're told that Nouri "had a large enough coalition" -- we're not told who won. And NPR has done a very poor job of conveying the winner in that election. That didn't start with Kelly McEvers. That starts the day after the election when Quil Lawrence is on Morning Edition declaring Nouri's slate the winner. It didn't win. And NPR has shown clear and consistent bias in their coverage. Allawi's slate won. If you're recapping, you need to include that detail. Doesn't matter if it was by one vote or one hundred, the race had a winner, it was not Nouri.
Reporting was not Quil declaring Nouri the winner the day after the election. Ballots weren't even counted and Quil was declaring Nouri the winner (based on? Nouri al-Maliki's own polling). Quil never issued a correction. He quickly left Iraq and NPR never issued a correction. This is not a minor point and to Iraqis who have followed NPR's coverage it is outrageous. They did go to the polls and vote. They risked a great deal to do so. Their election had a winner and NPR -- and many other outlets -- have ignored their voice as surely as their so-called 'government' has ignored them. NPR's problem, their inability to note who won that election, did not start with Kelly McEvers so I was just going to ignore the report but since I'm now besieged with voice mails and phone calls about how I've ignored this report, I'm including this here.
At this point, it remains unclear whether Allawi and Prime Minister Nouri Maliki can make peace. Without rapprochement, Maliki does not have the political protection to win parliamentary approval for a security agreement that would allow a small number of American troops to remain in Iraq. Currently, Maliki relies on the political support of anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr to stay in office, and Sadr wants all U.S. troops out at the end of the year. Members of Allawi's Iraqiya list, meanwhile, wonder why they should support an extended American military presence, when the deal to form a government that the U.S. helped broker in November has not been realized. They see Maliki serving as acting interior and defense minister and feel the U.S. government didn't live up to its commitments.
Nouri's assault on Iraqi citizens continue. AFP notes, "Human Rights Watch called on the Iraqi government Wednesday to revise a draft law it said contained provisions that violate international law. The New York-based watchdog said it had obtained a copy of the draft law, saying it curtailed freedom of assembly and expression, and contravened Iraq's own constitution." Human Rights Watch issued the following today:
Iraq should revise its draft law on freedom of expression and assembly to remove provisions that restrict those freedoms, Human Rights Watch said today. The draft law would allow authorities to curtail rights to protect the "public interest" or for the "general order or public morals," without limiting or defining what those terms encompass.
Human Rights Watch has obtained a copy of the draft law. Those provisions, as well as the proposed criminalization of speech that "insults" a "sacred" symbol or person, clearly violate international law, Human Rights Watch said. The government is pushing for this legislation in a period when physical attacks on peaceful demonstrators and restrictions on journalists have been increasing.
"This law will undermine Iraqis' right to demonstrate and express themselves freely," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Rather than creating restrictive laws, the government needs to stop attacks on critics by security forces and their proxies."
The Council of Ministers said in a statement dated May 16, 2011, that it had approved the "Law on the Freedom of Expression of Opinion, Assembly, and Peaceful Demonstration," in May and submitted it to the Council of Representatives for parliamentary approval. Human Rights Watch spoke with several members of parliament about the draft law who said it had not yet been circulated or introduced. Human Rights Watch called on parliament not to approve the law without revising it to remove the restrictions on rights.
Free Assembly The legislation would explicitly recognize the right of Iraqis to "demonstrate peacefully to express their opinions or demand their rights" (article 10), but other provisions would curtail those rights.
Under article 7(1), protest organizers would be required to get permission to hold a demonstration at least five days in advance. The request would have to include the "subject and purpose" of the demonstration and the names of its organizing committee. The draft law fails to state what standards Iraqi authorities would apply in approving or denying demonstration permits, effectively granting the government unfettered power to determine who may hold a demonstration, Human Rights Watch said.
Article 12 would permit authorities to restrict freedom of assembly and expression to protect "the public interest" or in the interest of "general order or public morals" without any qualification. The draft law offers no meaningful guidance in how to interpret such broad restrictions and is silent on what penalties protest organizers and demonstrators would face if they gathered without government approval.
The law as currently drafted would undermine guarantees in the Iraqi constitution of "freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration" as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iraq is a state party. The covenant makes clear that restrictions on peaceful demonstrations should be exceptional, and narrowly permitted, only if found to be "necessary in a democratic society" to safeguard "national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others." The draft Iraqi law includes some of these restrictions without any of the qualifications.
By granting overly broad approval authority to government agents and allowing them to restrict the right to freedom of assembly under vague concerns for "public morals" and "public interest," and by not limiting those restrictions to those "necessary in a democratic society," the draft law fails to meet the narrow criteria international law allows for limits on the right to assembly, Human Rights Watch said. Protest organizers in Iraq operate in an extraordinarily unsafe environment. In recent weeks, Iraqi authorities have detained, interrogated, and beaten several protest organizers in Baghdad. That makes the proposed requirement for organizers to submit their names when requesting approval for a demonstration a significant threat to their personal security. Protest organizers who wish to stay anonymous should be allowed to do so, Human Rights Watch said. At the very least, the government should ensure that the names of applicants would be classified and restricted to the permit office. The law should be modified to revise this requirement.
"How can the authorities expect organizers to come forward when security forces are not only failing to protect them from violence but in some cases targeting them directly," Stork said.
Free Expression The law also contains provisions that would criminalize speech, with penalties of up to 10 years in prison. Under article 13, anyone who "attacks a belief of any religious sect or shows contempt for its rites" or publicly insults a "symbol, or person who is held sacred, exalted, or venerated by a religious sect" would face up to one year in jail and fines of up to 10 million dinars (US$8,665.52).The law provides no guidance about what might constitute an unlawful insult.
Iraq's constitution guarantees freedom of speech, and the ICCPR holds that "everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression ... to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds." International standards only allow content-based restrictions in extremely narrow circumstances, such as cases of slander or libel against private individuals or speech that threatens national security. Restrictions must be clearly defined, specific, necessary, and proportionate to the threat to interest protected.
Background Iraqi authorities have taken several steps in recent months to keep protests in Baghdad from public view. On April 13, officials issued new regulations barring street protests and allowing protests only in three soccer stadiums, though the regulation has not been enforced.
On February 21, Iraqi police allowed dozens of assailants, some wielding knives and clubs, to beat and stab peaceful protesters in Baghdad. During nationwide February 25 protests, security forces killed at least 12 protesters across the country and injured more than 100. On that day, Human Rights Watch observed Baghdad security forces beating unarmed journalists and protesters, smashing cameras, and confiscating memory cards.
On June 10, government-backed thugs armed with wooden planks, knives, iron pipes, and other weapons, beat and stabbed peaceful protesters and sexually molested female demonstrators in Baghdad. Human Rights Watch observed and witnesses said that security forces stood by and watched in several instances.
Yesterday Parliament came back into session. Today? Iraq Oil Report explained:
Turning to some of today's reported violence, Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing injured five people, another Baghdad roadside bombing injured two people (including one police officer), a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life, 1 man was shot dead by his Kirkuk home, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier, a Mosul bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi woman and a Mosul armed clash led to 4 deaths and two people being injured.
Moving over to the United States, Elisha Dawkins is an Iraq War veteran who serves in the US military or did until paperwork became an excuse for the government to persecute him. Carol Rosenberg (Miami Herald) reports he accepted a probation deal yesterday which should allow him to remain in the US and in the Navy, "In a surprise, his court-appointed lawyer Clark Mervis notified Judge Cecilia Altonaga that they had accepted the offer late Monday. Details were still secret Tuesday but his attorney said it did not address the issue of Dawkins' citizenship. Separately, the U.S. immigration agency has agreed not to detain him on a 1992 removal order." Susannah Nesmith (New York Times) adds, "Before serving in the Navy, he was in the Army, and both branches believed he was a citizen when he enlisted, as did the State Department when it issued him a passport, in spite of a deportation order dating to 1992." Whether or not Elisha is a US citizen became an issue after the persecution began. Prior to this year, he assumed that, as he had had been told his whole life, he was a citizen. Part of the reason the government agreed to halt any pursuit of deportation is that they can't currently prove he's not a citizen. Brian Hamacher (NBC Miami) explains, "Under Tuesday's deal, Dawkins admitted to checking the wrong box on the application but didn't admit guilt to any crime. The charge is expected to be dropped, with Dawkins performing community service."
Meanwhile Sgt Jore Rodriguez continues his pursuit of justice. While he was training and service, CitiMortgage, in violation of the law and apparently falsifying evidence, foreclosed on his home. Saturday Bob Van Voris (Bloomberg News) reported Rodriguez has filed suit against Citigroup Inc due to the fact that while he doing pre-deployment training in 2006, CitiMortgage attempted to steal his home by filing false paperwork insisting "Rodriguez wasn't on active service at the time, depriving him of protection under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act". Reuters added, "Rodriguez said his property was sold at foreclosure for about $137,900, or $13,400 more than his original mortgage. He said he received no proceeds from the sale. The lawsuit seeks class-action status on behalf of U.S. armed forces members whose homes were foreclosed upon improperly by CitiMortgage from Dec. 19, 2003 to the present." Bob Van Voris also notes, "Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and Morgan Stanley agreed in May to pay $22.4 million to resolve U.S. allegations that they improperly foreclosed on active-duty soldiers. JPMorgan Chase & Co. earlier agreed to a $56 million settlement of claims that it illegally overcharged military personnel on home loans." JPMorgan, of course, didn't just 'agree' to pay large settlement. They were first called to the carpet by the House Veterans Affairs Committee in the US Congress. That was February 9th of this year and we'll note this key moment from the hearing between US House Rep Bob Filner and JPMorgan Chase's Stephanie Mudick.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: Uhm, how many executive vice presidents are there at Chase? Or, let me put it another way, how high are you up in the heirarchy there?
Stephanie Mudick: Uh, I am a member of Chase's Executive Committee which is fewer than a hundred employees at Chase -- at JPMorgan Chase.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: And what does the 100 people do? I mean, that's the highest policy making thing in Chase?
Stephanie Mudick: Uh, there is an Operating Committee which is a group of approximately 20 people.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: How many executive vice presidents are there?
Stephanie Mudick: I don't have the answer to that question, sir, I'm sorry.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: But you'll find out for me, right?
Stephanie Mudick: I will indeed.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: Could you fix things if we need to ask? I mean, you're here on behalf of Chase so I assume that means you can fix things. Can you fix things? I mean, you said you weren't aware of that hotline number [a JPMorgan Chase number to deal with SCRA problems which Julia Rowles testified was just an answering machine passed off as a hotline and one that has now been disconnected for months]. Can you find it out right away? Can you call someone and say, "What's going on there?"
Stephanie Mudick: Uh, together with-with my colleagues -- There is -- I would say --
Ranking Member Bob Filner: Okay, so you can't fix things.
Stephanie Mudick (Con't): -- there are many -- Excuse me, sir. I would say that we try and fix whatever --
Ranking Member Bob Filner: Okay, the Rowles testified that they didn't have any statements for a year, you hadn't cashed their last mortgage check. Can you fix that today?
Stephanie Mudick: Uh --
Raking Member Bob Filner: You said you were going to make them whole. They've brought up several questions. Can you fix that?
Stephanie Mudick: We are trying to fix --
Ranking Member Bob Filner: I don't want a "we." You? Can you fix that?
Stephanie Mudick: I can, together with my colleagues causes changes to be made in our organization. Uh -- and with respect to the Rowleses -- Uh, uhm, you know,,we are trying to figure out how we can come to an agreement --
Ranking Member Bob Filner: Come to an agreement because of a lawsuit. But you said you were going to make them whole. As I read your statement, your average payment to make people whole was seventy dollars. Does that make people whole who've gone through this stuff?
Stephanie Mudick: The-the median payment is $70 and-and let me explain to you how-how we get to that number.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: Because you're just dealing with the amount of interest you overpaid plus some fees, that's all you're dealing with. You're not dealing with any human costs or any emotional costs or any pain and suffering as they would say. You're just dealing with the amount of interest and fees that you overcharged. Right? I mean that's what it says here [holds up Mudick's prepared statement] anyway.
Stephanie Mudick: Congressman, most of the, uh, service members who were impacted by this, uh, are-are not even aware that they overpaid. And in part that's because the amount they overpaid was not-not material to them.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: I can't believe that there's nobody else going through what the Rowles did. But, you know, I mean, you can't make the changes, you're not making them whole. Why should -- You broke the law. Your bank broke the law. Shouldn't someone go to jail for that?
Stephanie Mudick: Uh --
Ranking Member Bob Filner: And who should? Who should? Who's responsible? Are you as the executive v.p. who was given us by the bank to answer for this? Should you go to jail?
Stephanie Mudick: Uh, we are doing a review internally in order to --
Ranking Member Bob Filner: I want to know --
Stephanie Mudick: -- figure out --
Ranking Member Bob Filner: -- who's responsible?
Stephanie Mudick: -- who's responsible for what happened.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: Are you going to tell us who? Are you going to give us a person? Or people? That are responsible?
Stephanie Mudick: Well we will certainly hold those folks who are resposible for this accountable.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: I want to know about you. You broke the law. How are we going to hold you accountable? Are we going to know who did what when?
You can refer to the following community coverage of that hearing:
Late Monday afternoon, the Dow Jones Wire updated a report to note that CitiMortgage finally had a comment to this story that garnered press attention over the weekend: They were looking into the charges. Of course they were. Leigh Remizowski (CNNMoney) reports on the issue: His home had also been sold at a foreclosure sale, and the affidavit stated that Rodriguez was "not on active duty with any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States or was not protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act," according to the suit. The law prevents foreclosure proceedings from beginning until nine months after the service member returns from active duty.
Remizowski gets a statement from CitiMortgage that offers more words than they provided on Monday but still says nothing. On the topic of veterans issues, Senator Patty Murray is Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and her office notes:
FOR PLANNING PURPOSES: Contact: Murray Press Office Wednesday, July 13, 2011 (202) 224-2834
VETERANS: Murray to Hold Hearing on Gaps in Mental Health Care
(Washington, D.C.) – Tomorrow, Thursday, July 14th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, will hold a hearing to discuss access to mental health care services, including waiting times and staffing levels, outreach to veterans, integration of mental health care into primary care, suicide prevention and problems identified by the VA Inspector General in mental health care.
The hearing will include testimony from:
· Daniel Williams – An Iraq veteran who will describe how an IED explosion during his 2003/2004 deployment to Iraq led to TBI and PTSD injuries. Williams will describe how those experiences then led to a suicide attempt in 2004 that was broken up by wife and local police. He will also discuss how his PTSD was received by fellow soldiers, his concerns over the stigma attached to the mental wounds of war, and his frustrations with mental health care administered by the VA.
· Andrea Sawyer – Andrea is the caregiver and spouse of Sgt. Loyd Sawyer, an Iraq veteran. Andrea will discuss how even after a suicide attempt her husband was force to wait months for an appointment at the VA and how despite having severe chronic PTSD he has often been confronted by other red tape and delays in efforts to get care.
The hearing will also include testimony and questions from the VA's Assistant Inspector General for Health Care who will testify and take questions on investigations the IG's office has done into mental health care challenges at the VA. A full list of witnesses is available HERE.
WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee
WHAT: Hearing to discuss VA's mental health care services
WHEN: Thursday, July 14th, 2011 10:00 AM ET
WHERE: Russell Senate Office Building Room 418 Washington, D.C.