The Reorganization That Never Was … Part III

MissionStatementDPAA

As we addressed in Part II of this series, after then Secretary of Defense Hagel asked for a pause in the reorganization, all family groups gave them the space they asked for, with the exception of one.  Ann Mills Griffiths took this as an opportunity to become a wedge and along with the VSOs who work exclusively with the National League of Families, they collectively sent a letter to Secretary Hagel outlining Ann’s perspective on the reorganization to date.  While others respected the break that was asked for, we know and have confirmation from a DoD official that Ann met with Christine Wormouth in early November.  When others asked if they would be provided the opportunity to meet with Wormouth, they were told that requests would be forwarded to Wormouth’s military assistant, “for consideration.”  Additionally, it was explained that Wormouth was not intending to open up dialogue with all family groups.

So much for this promise:

“I want to ensure every stakeholder is aware of our intent, and an active participant in this change-process and feels empowered to provide feedback.” – Michael Lumpkin

All through December and through the holidays there was silence.  Then in early January a DoD conference call took place where family groups and VSOs were ceremoniously introduced to what would equate to the DoD’s third attempt at a reorganization team since the reorganization was announced in March of 2014.  First, there was Mr. Lumpkin, then Alisa Stack along with the PACT and The Clearing and now Rear Admiral Franken, LTG Michael Linnington, General Kelly McKeague along with DASD for Public Affairs and Community Outreach René Bardorf.  

There was no explanation, no mention of the PACT or the Clearing, no mention of why this sudden change was taking place.  Yet, one thing was painstakingly clear, the “robust two-way communication” was gone.  Bardorf controlled the flow, content and topics and whenever a question veered in a direction that was not to her liking, she cut individuals off.   The voice of the missing personnel families was no longer wanted or needed.  Everyone but the League representatives and the VSOs were taken completely off guard.  When someone attempted to be “empowered” to provide the once-mentioned “feedback.” Franken became agitated and lashed out at family members on the call.  The format of these calls had done a 180 and no one even had the decency to let the rest in on the change.

The whispering campaign turned into a witch hunt and anyone who wasn’t willing to go along with the charade was removed from the calls.  Family groups were investigated and First Amendment rights were trampled on.  For more on this, a National Alliance’s newsletter from February, 2015 does a great job of outlining the murky waters that this third reorganization team has taken us into.  They only wanted people who would blindly follow their lead, not question their decisions and not remind them of previous promises.  René Bardorf was quoted as saying, “Any and all promises made prior to October 31st are no longer on the table.”   We found this quote almost incredulous coming from someone with no real standing in the reorganization.  

Family groups were so taken aback by all of this that four of the five major family groups issued a press release in February outlining their concerns.  The reorganization had clearly fallen off the tracks and this new leadership team went so far as admitting they knew next to nothing about the accounting community.  Once again, family members were removed from the process and given no voice in a process that they were going to have to live with long after Franken, McKeague and Bardorf were gone and moved on to new responsibilities.

DASD Bardorf showed her complete lack of understanding of  POW/MIA accounting by adding active-duty military support groups to the calls.  Groups, while very important for today’s military, had no history, role, or interest in the POW/MIA issue.  Groups like, Wounded Warrior, The Military Child, Operation Homefront, Blue Star Families, Student Veterans and even the USO.  Again, while these groups do great work, their inclusion in the POW/MIA issue, to (tongue-in-cheek) quote John McCain, “boggles the mind.”   And if that weren’t enough, she issued her own Rules of Engagement for the conference calls – issued, interestingly enough, after three family groups were removed from the calls.  We didn’t even know that a civilian, let alone a DASD for Public Affairs could issues RoE’s.

 

The conference calls continued with more of the tawdry illusion of progress while the reorganization which was supposed to bring families into the fold, correct wrong-doing and change the culture of the workforce, has been so watered down it is almost unrecognizable.  Instead of a top down restructuring it has become piecemeal.  The lab staff in Hawaii have their collective heads on swivel with word of their job status changing almost weekly and staff in Washington still unsure of what they are supposed to be doing or where they will be posted.  Yet, this brand new agency is supposed to be at full operation in a little over four months.

In June at the Vietnam meetings when the newly appointed Director of DPAA Michael Linnington was asked about the report/recommendations that The Clearing had submitted prior to the October 31, 2014 shutdown, Linnington mentioned something to the effect of the DoD not needing input from outside sources to do their jobs.  In fact, when family group leaders asked about the excessive amount of money that was spent on The Clearing and what their role would be, they were told that The Clearing was going to step away from working with the families and would be given internal roles within the reorganization.  A heck of a way to spend a reported $7-9 million dollars.  

The only aspect of the reorganization that appears to be getting any attention at all is the private public partnerships (P3’s).  Yet, they are off to an apparent rough start with a somewhat lackadaisical leader in the recently demoted Dr. Tom Holland.  Holland, as you may recall, was the head of the Central Identification Lab at the former JPAC.  He was replaced by Medical Examiner, Dr. Edward Reedy in January.  There has been some discussion about having a ME vs. a forensic anthropologist overseeing the lab.  By definition, a ME works almost exclusively with tissue and organs and a forensic anthropologist almost exclusively with bones.  There has been some question as to Reedy’s role in the lab, which we will address in a future posting.

These mystical P3’s have taken on a life of their own and become the heart of the faux reorganization.  Some were taken by surprise with Holland’s first presentation as the leader of the private/public partnerships.  At the Vietnam meetings in June, Holland began his poorly organized talk with a photo of a Wall Street fat-cat with a huge dollar-sign chain around his neck.  Holland then went on to say that inexperienced individuals were coming out of the woodwork to do excavations thinking that they were going to make millions.  Holland was quick to confirm, that kind of money is just not there.  We suspect that Holland and some of the P3 leadership are going to be butting heads because of the unorganized nature of this new branch of the accounting community due in no small part to the lack of enthusiasm on the part of Dr. Holland.

In the final installment, of this series we’ll look at the role that the P3’s are playing in this misnomer of a reorganization.

The Reorganization that Never Was … Part II

Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

In the first installment of this series, we shared the specific promises that were publicly made and documented as part of the reorganization of the POW/MIA accounting agency.  The overarching promise, the one that gave long-time family members a glimmer of hope, was the idea that we were going to be part of this process.  Specifically, “I want to ensure every stakeholder is aware of our intent, and an active participant in this change-process and feels empowered to provide feedback.”  These were words spoken by ASD Michael Lumpkin in front of a room full of family members and DPMO/JPAC staff in June of 2014.

At this time The PACT (Personnel Accounting Consolidation Task force) was put in place, lead by DoD civilian, Alisa Stack and her Deputy Ross Brown.  Their role was to oversee all stages and aspects of the proposed 18-month reorganization.  Their primary directive was to take the policy that was approved by then Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and established by Lumpkin, and put it into an actionable plan.

This is where The Clearing was supposed to break new ground and open the long-closed door of communication between the families and the DoD. The Clearing, a DC based business consulting firm, was contracted by the DoD to foster external communication with the families and encompass our concerns, our issues and what we felt was needed in the new agency.  They had been working even before the Annual Meetings in 2014 and were part of the meetings, having face-to-face chats with family members and getting a better grasp of the dysfunction from our perspective.  That was in mid-June, 2014.  In mid-August they also began moderating conference calls with family groups to continue gaining an overview of the issues through the eyes of the families.

Through the summer, the PACT focused on the more urgent aspects of the reorganization, aligning the resources and various avenues of funding for a single standing agency.  No small task considering the maze of agencies involved in the accounting community.  Not only did they align the funding, they also had to funnel all of the human resources under one umbrella.

It is still unclear as to how or why, but once Christine Wormouth was confirmed by the Senate as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in June 2014, Michael Lumpkin seamlessly disappeared from the process. Lumpkin was serving in his given role as ASD for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict as well as overseeing the responsibilities of USD for Policy which was vacated by James Miller in January 2014.   Conversations with other family members confirmed our suspicion that Lumpkin may have been quietly pushed out because of his open-minded approach to the reorganization.  He gave multiple sources the impression that even when the Policy position was filled, he would still be overseeing the reorganization.

Others shared with us during the meetings in June that Lumpkin was very responsive to communication from family group leaders, NGO’s, private citizens and individual family members.  Any direct communication was responded to personally and in most cases within 48 hours.  He seemed to be living up to the policy that he shared with families and to Congress.  He was clearly a man of his word.  He was willing to listen to anyone and everyone.  He gave the impression that his mindset was to understand the issue from all angles, not just the side of those who signed his paycheck.  This may have not sat well with some in DC or Hawaii.

Wormouth seemed to have a hands-off approach and for the most part spent her day to day time focusing on present day policy issues, she would receive weekly updates from the PACT and when time permitted, would take part in conference calls with various stakeholders.  But her input was sporadic at best. As one source told us, “She never appeared to be fully engaged in the reorganzation.”

By the early fall Stack and the PACT had hammer out some specifics as far as their overall plan and scope of their reorganization process. You can find those specifics here).  PACT leadership was meeting weekly with family group leaders, veterans’ groups and other stakeholders to ensure they had a good grasp of the issue from everyone’s perspective.  Working Groups within DPMO and JPAC were working in their assigned tasks as well as defining the cultural change that Lumpkin had promised. While to most directly involved in the issue, this was a breath of fresh air – everyone having an equal voice and working collectively – one individual didn’t like sharing center stage.

As we have learned over the past 40 years, some people have been given the luxury of being the only voice in the room.  When Alisa Stack made it clear to all those involved that no one voice was going to be heard above the din of others, that is when the reorganization truly ended.  While the overwhelming majority was hopeful, someone else didn’t like it.  So, in typical and almost expected fashion, the whispering campaign began.  Slights were beginning to appear in online publications.  Indirect comments directed at the PACT about ; “ … educated insights from experienced, dedicated professionals are being neither sought nor welcomed by the transition team.”

This person also voluntarily removed their organization from the weekly conference calls because being on equal footing with everyone else was not their cup of tea. We were told that even speaking in turn was difficult for this person.   The reason we mention this is because, as  other sources told us, as part of the whispering campaign, people inside the government and some of the NGO’s were told that call-in information for the weekly conference calls simply stopped arriving giving the impression that the remaining family groups were being exclusive when in reality it was their choice.  This added fuel to the fire and lead to what occurred on October 31st, 2014.

On what was to be a routine conference call with the PACT, family groups, VSOs and NGOs, participants were addressed by then Secretary Hagel wherein he stated that he was asking for “a pause” of two week so that he and his people could make sure things were heading in the right direction, that, as he put it, “all our ducks are in a row.”  This was also the call when crumbs were dropped, where the only person that the government has truly listened to over the decades of dysfunction stated that there was a desire to see more of a military presence in the structure of the reorganization team.  Hints were also dropped that would later lay the foundation for attacks against other family groups questioning their legitimacy and membership.
As those that follow the issue know, that two week pause turned into a two month pause.  It was later discovered, and no surprise to us here at the POW Warrior, that while all other family groups respected the pause that the Secretary requested, someone else was meeting with government officials laying the groundwork for a third reorganization team that would be introduced in January.

After the fact this letter, dated December 11, 2014,was circulated which clearly shows that while the majority took the Secretary at his word, others along with the VSOs were undermining all of the good work that had been done to date because it wasn’t to the liking of one individual.

Add to all of this the announcement of Secretary Hagel’s resignation in late November and our missing men never truly had a chance.  Marginalized again.

The government is too blind to see that they have spent the past 40 years listening to just one person.  In our minds, there is no coincidence that the wake of dysfunction coincides with this myopic perspective on the part of the DoD.

(Stay tuned for Part III and IV in the coming days)

Special Forces Reports on POW/MIA Reorganization

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The Special Operation Forces Situation Report website, SOFREP, recently wrote an interesting article  on the reorganization of the POW/MIA accounting community into the newly formed DPAA (Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Accounting Agency).  While the article is available via subscription, someone was kind enough to send us the article in its entirety via email which you can find here in a PDF format.

We have several comments about this article that are worth stating here publicly.  First,  we are yawning over the “good vibes” that everyone wants to force-feed us about the “new energy and a renewed commitment” of the POW/MIA accounting community.  We’re sorry but how many times when we get a new director have we heard this?  As the article states, in the past 12 years we have had seven or eight directors.  This is no different than when your family expects you to get all excited over your cousin’s upcoming wedding – when it is her fourth one.

And Mr. Linnington thinks he is going to be around for 10 years?  The only hopes he has for staying that long is if Ann Mills Griffiths leaves this earth within the next three.  History has taught us that with every new director Ann gushes over him …until she disagrees with him.  Does the name Jerry Jennings ring a bell?  This is why people have always been critical of the DoD’s 40 years of fatal attraction with Ann Mills Griffiths.  She is the only one they work with and listen to and don’t think for a moment that family input is being sought on these wonderful conference calls with the DoD.  They are nothing more than window dressing so they can report back to Congress that there was family involvement.

As has been made clear by many of the other family groups, these calls are nothing more than press release journalism.  They are telling family groups what they have done and what they are doing, they are NOT keeping their promises made in the initial stages of 2014.   During the July 2014 congressional hearing with the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee Michael Lumkpkin, who was then the DoD’s lead person on the reorganization said, “We’d like the voice of our missing personnel families to shape and inform our process for the future.”

We are still waiting for this promise, as well as the others, to be kept.

The SOFREP article gives five focal points of the reorganization and the challenges of the new DPAA director, Michael Linnington.

1) Morale of the Workforce – While we as family members have been jerked around for the past 14 months, so has the workforce in both Hawaii and DC.  Often on a daily basis they have been told one thing and by the end of the week, things change yet again.  During the Annual Meetings many family members were told that little actual work has been done in the past 12 months because they were being pulled away for meeting after meeting about the reorganization.  DPAA is still unclear and indecisive on far too many aspects of the reorganization.  We at the POW Warrior are somewhat skeptical about the January 1, 2016 “fully operational” stand-up date.

2) Change WWII Priority – Clearly in direct correlation to the congressional mandate of 200 IDs annually, DPAA is putting all of their eggs in the WWII basket.  The point that needs to be made here is that DPAA immediate knew that WWII was going to be their treasure trove.  One has to ask that if they knew there were so many WWII remains ripe for the picking, WHY were these never cultivated or exhumed before the congressional mandate and reorganization?

3) Improve Communications – This comment takes a huge step back from all of the propaganda that Michael Lumpkin was sharing in the Spring of 2014 when the reorganization was first announced.  Families have become an after thought.  Their concerns of communication within DoD is the concern here, not the families.  So, the initial promise of improving how the new DPAA treats families has also been tossed.  One could wager that mountain was just too hard of a climb for a workforce who has had carte blanche to treat families as doormats for almost half a century.

4) Improve Vietnam Links – This is really nothing more than a red herring.  We have no leverage with Vietnam anymore, thanks to John Kerry and John McCain who worked overtime during their tenure with the 1992 Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs to bury the POW/MIA issue.  It is no coincidence that the following year both Kerry and McCain were present at the White House when then President Clinton announced the reestablishment of relations with Vietnam.  We have given Vietnam everything but the kitchen sink.  All of the talks and trips that some groups have taken to Vietnam are nothing more than public relation stunts for their membership and to get a little press.

5) Probe by war, not region – We have to ask how this change in focus is going to help with the numbers game. Separating a given case from the conflict that it came from just seems absurd.  While Vietnam would be a region in and of itself BUT, seriously DPAA, you are making us agree with Ann on this?  This idea needs to be rethought and we are confident that the folks at Research and Analysis will happily tell you that evaluating a case devoid of conflict and the political powder keg that is correlated to each conflict, Vietnam in particular, is risky business.

Sadly, DPAA is well behind where it should be in the reorganization process.  Many of the initial promises have fallen to the wayside or simply been ignored.  The DoD has floundered through this reorganization by passing the baton to three sets of people to oversee the reorganization.  What we will be left with will be a vague resemblance of what was promised yet the DoD will tout this as a victory because they control the message.

While we wait …

S 885: A Bad Idea

S 885

We have been having some lively discussion here at the POW Warrior about the recent announcement of Senate Bill 885 introduced in March of this year by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).   The bill itself is very brief, summarized here:

National POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015

Directs the Architect of the Capitol to: (1) enter into an agreement to obtain a chair featuring the logo of the National League of POW/MIA Families, and (2) place it in the U.S. Capitol in a suitable permanent location within two years after enactment of this Act.”

While to many this may seem like a wonderful idea, we feel that this is nothing more than tokenism and subterfuge. Many factions of the POW/MIA community are pushing hard for this Act to be made into law and we have to ask the question, why?  Has Senator Warren been a stallworth supporter of our cause for decades?  Does she sit on any Senate committees that would be beneficial to us?  Does she plan on becoming our voice in the Senate?

The answer to all of these questions is “no.”  So, the next logical question is why would she sponsor such a bill if she has no history with our cause?  The answer is simple, she was preparing to run for the highest office in the land, she wanted to be our first female president.  This bill was a way for her to reach out to the masses and say, “I fought for a bill that would …”

We, collectively and individually, have been used, time and time again by those in Washington to fuel their reelection campaigns and insert themselves into an issue they know very little about simply because it looks good to their voters.  We are always a safe bet, who would dare (besides DPAA of course) mistreat, or disrespect a POW/MIA family member?  How many of us have gone to our representatives in Congress to get help with dealing with the DoD only to get either the run around or a half-baked effort to help us?  Publicly we are the golden calf, privately we are something they truly want to distance themselves from politically.

Look at Senators McCaskill and Ayotte.  Two years ago, they raked the then heads of DPMO and JPAC over the coals.  McCaskill was quoted as saying, “Get it freaking done!” and Ayotte, with her finger pointed across her name plate, told them, “Fix it, or we’ll fix it for you!”  Many of us cheered from our couches when these words were uttered.  Yet where were they as the reorganization turned into a mockery?  A source told us that while McCaskill’s office was well aware of the mess that was taking place, an aide alluded to the fact that they knew it was going to hell but that they didn’t have the power to tell the DoD how to do their job. In other words, they didn’t want to get involved.  Quite a 180-degree turn from the threats and finger-pointing when the cameras were rolling and the press were paying attention.

All of this, the sponsorship, the chair everything is nothing more than tokenism on the part of the very system that is supposed to be serving us.  We at the POW Warrior are sick and tired of groups who are more than willing to erect a memorial, organize a ceremony or hand out proclamations. We want politicians and veterans’ groups to get their hands dirty, to really learn the issue from the inside out, know why it is insane, for example, to have General (Ret.) Michael Linnington as the new head of DPAA.  His loyalties are not to the families or to the missing, they are specifically to himself and a one-way street to the DoD.  He was strategically placed on the third reorganization team so that he could take this post.  In fact, if you read the newsletter of one specific family group, you will see that he was recommended as part of the reorganization team by the only family group that the DoD has ever listened to.

We had to laugh at DASD Bardorf’s email today, announcing General Linnington at the new director of DPAA.

“As you know, he was also an advisor involved in all aspects of standing up the new agency.”

He has only been on board since January.  While a significant amount of work was done by Michael Lumpkin and the PACT, work which was heading in the right direction, much of that was thrown to the wayside because, as usual, someone wasn’t getting her way.

We at the POW Warrior want to see substantive insertion into the issue on the part of Congress.  We don’t need more memorials, wreaths or plaques, we need people who are going to act, people who are going to get involved long-term and help families get their loved ones home and correctly identified.  We are so over veterans’ groups who only get involved to a certain point and are afraid to step over a line. They would never put their membership in a bad light with the DoD or Congress.  If a veterans’ group had to choose between POW/MIAs and an issue that would help improve the lives of their card-carrying paid members, you know darn well that we will be left in the dust.

We need to get past the tokenism and the subterfuge and start to get real.

Man (or Woman) in the Mirror

man-in-mirror
The DOD’s Man in the Mirror

Yes, we know, it has been a while.  Our inbox has been hit hard with links to news stories and information that had been flooding in regarding the reorganization of the POW/MIA accounting agencies.  Things seemed to be moving in the right direction when Michael Lumpkin was the face of the reorganization, officially announced in March ’14.  All POW/MIA family organizations from all of the conflicts seemed to be poised and optimistic.

Even after the sudden change of direction in August/September when Lumpkin was replaced by Policy ASD Christine Wormouth.  The Personnel Accounting Consolidation Taskforce – PACT – seemed to pick up the ball and still headed in the right direction.  Then mistakes started to  happen.  Followed by all of the backdoor negotiating and backstabbing that some people are famous for, actually infamous.  On October 31st, according to news articles from both Stars and Stripes and more recently, the Honolulu Register, Secretary Hagel held a conference call asking for a break for his staff to make sure everything was headed in the right direction.  The two-week break became a two month break and then. out of left field, we got a whole new group of people to temporarily head the reorganization.

From reports and emails, this new group has decided to make the families the enemy.  They are reading group websites, checking non-profit statuses and playing Big Brother.  Then, if they find anything to their disliking, they are trampling on the 1st Amendment and tell families that they can’t be part of the process until they behave?

Well, here is a thought … We may have only skimmed the GAO report and read the beginning of the DOD’s Inspector General’s report but, we’re pretty sure that the phrase “highly dysfunctional” was used to describe the DOD, NOT the families or any family group.   We’re pretty sure that the questionable leadership outlined in these reports were within DPMO and JPAC, not the families.  In fact, the reports tasked you with improving relationships with the families and re-establishing trust.  You have done the complete opposite.

Why not start with the man or woman in the mirror, DOD?  Why not worry about your own house before you go looking for problems in someone else’s?  From what we have seen in the past, oh, 40 years – you have plenty there to keep you busy.   Is this how you fix what is broken in your own house?  Silencing your critics?  Ignoring the past?  Making families out to be the bad guys after decades of your own abuse?  And to what end?  To punish families further for wanting the truth about their missing loved one?  For expecting the DOD to keep its word and then holding your feet to the fire when you don’t?

You aren’t the victims here.

Maybe that is really the problem here – you don’t know how to fix your own problems …. so it is just easier to point out flaws in your victims.  Then blame your failure on us?

Please Stand By …

According to the site statistics, many of you have been checking back to see if we have posted anything new.  While putting together the third installment of our series we stumbled across some new information that may well leads us to shedding new light on what we have been uncovering.   We needs some time to digest this new information and put it in context and then get it into written form.

If you are curious as to what we stumbled across, we will leave you with this link here, and see if you might be able to connect the dots as well.   Two specific pieces of information jumped out at us in this article, one of them being this, “In 1970 she helped form the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia to give families comfort and help connect them with resources to bring loved ones home.”

Keep in mind, we have proven that Susie/Susan Lowenthal-Geist-Ragan-Stephens-Harvey was born in November 1959.  She would have been 11 years old as a founding member of the NLF.

Ann Mills-Griffiths’ Straw-man Argument

As was discussed in our last post, POW/MIA son Larry Echanis wrote to the NLF Board perfectly outlining the illegal elections and the family member status that AMG has vicariously given to Susie Harvey and her fourth husband, Allen.   After publishing our post last night, someone was kind enough to send us AMG’s reply to Larry.  You can read AMG’s contemptible response here: Email_from_AMG_to_Larry_Echanis.

AMG tosses the name of Karen McManus into the situation as the Board member who, over the years has been responsible for maintaining changes/updates to the League’s By-Laws.  This is another red herring.  AMG gives the impression that she has no idea what the present By-Laws state on this issue and that Karen will have to take her valuable time to do some “historical research” – which will, of course,  take time away from “the League’s critical mission.”

This is a straw-man argument!  As the former Executive Director of the NLF, AMG should have had a current file readily available of the organization’s By-Laws as a reference.  This would also be necessary when members or the public requested them.  So, the claim that someone is going to have to do all of this research is simply bogus.  Lastly, if AMG is casually admitting that as Executive Director, she never kept a current file of our By-Laws then this would raise some more interesting questions.

Going a step further, the NLF Board just reviewed the existing By-Laws in anticipation of the 2011 annual elections to put together a list of By-Law changes that were part of the voting packet.  Therefore, how can access to the existing By-Laws be considered such a chore and ” require historic research that will drain time and attention from the League’s critical mission?”

AMG’s next argument makes reference to historical changes in NLF membership over the years, including the addition of family members in the KIA/BNR category.  Because we are talking about the status of the missing men, not the relationship between the man and the potential NLF member, we are dealing with another misdirection.  The usage of “extended family members” is interesting because, as Larry so clearly stated in his initial letter, the definition of family member includes only those who are blood or legal family members.  Susie Harvey is neither.  The By-Law section that Larry cited made no mention of “extended family members” and furthermore, as we have stated almost ad nauseam, Susie, upon divorcing her first husband lost her legal status as SSG Geist’s sister-in-law.   Divorce severs all legal ties to your former spouse AND his/her family.

In all reality, the third paragraph of AMG’s rebuttal is at the heart of this entire situation.   AMG feels that because Susie Harvey has worked so hard in the POW/MIA Issue this gives her the right to go against NLF by-laws.  Could AMG simply want to keep one of her foot soldiers on the Board with her?  There are others in the issue who work just as hard as Susie does, yet don’t claim a status that they do not have the right to and still accomplish much good work on behalf of our missing men.  Is AMG implying that Susie can only be effective as a family member?  Should we consider that a slap in the face to those who aren’t family members? Susie can be just as effective, as she has been all these years when she was not on the Board, in her rightful place as an associate member of the NLF.

After all of her years in DC, one would think that AMG would be the last person to simply believe what someone tells her without obtaining verification.  Ann apparently asked Susie for a narrative and took her word for it -bad move-AMG didn’t do her job.   As was stated in our last post, a background search of Susie Lowenthal-Geist-Ragan-Stephens-Harvey shows that she was born in November of 1959.  Per AMG, Susie was active in the POW/MIA issue as early as 1972.  Susie wants us to believe that she was putting her first husband Jeffrey through law school at that time.  We have a few pertinent questions for her.  Since Susie was born in 1959, in 1972 that would have made her all of 12 – 13 years old.  So, are they expecting us to believe that at age 13 Susie was already married to Jeffrey and working as a teacher to put him through law school?

We were happy to do Ann’s job for her.  If you would like to check our research – Here are the steps to follow:

1) Go to http://www.zabasearch.com  (This site uses various public/vital records and cross references them to give you a list of options)

2) Simply type in SUSIE HARVEY as the name and then use GEORGIA as the state.

3) All of the SUSIE HARVEYs in Georgia are listed by city.  According to Susie’s contact info on the NLF’s website, her mailing address is 902 Mill Court, Savannah, GA. According to Chatham County, Georgia’s Real Property Records, this is one of TWO residences that the Harvey’s own.  The Mill Court address was purchased by Susie Stephens (last name of Susie’s 3rd husband) in 2006 and is still listed as being in her name.

4) Scrolling down the list, once you arrive at Savannah, you will see an address of 8 River Bluff listed.  This is the other property that, according to the County Real Property Records, Susie and Allen purchased in 1999.   See link here: Real Property for Susie Stephens-Harvey.  If you want to trust us, this link shows that in October 1999 Susie and her present husband Allen purchased this property at 8 River Bluff in Savannah, GA.  (It is quite possible that after they were married, Susie added Allen to the property tax records-so Allen as the initial purchaser could be misleading.)

SUSIE E HARVEY Born  Nov 1959     
8 RIVER BLUFF   Neighborhood & Property Report  Record Created: 03/2010
SAVANNAH, GA  31406   (912) 354-4630

Please notice, after Susie’s name is her month and year of birth NOV 1959.  So how could Susie and Jeffrey be husband and wife in 1972 when she was only 13?  Ann, are you listening?

In the next paragraph Ann makes this admission of not following NLF by-laws by stating that, “The dissolution of their marriage did not result in Susie’s being disqualified as a voting League family member, nor has it since.”   If it didn’t, then why not?  Over the years AMG have removed certain women from the Family Member status and downgraded them to associate members when they remarried.  So, why not Susie?  Could it be that AMG also bought into Susie’s claims of being the biological sister of Army SSG Stephen J. Geist and now, not wanting to admit such an egregious error?Is AMG going to fight this battle to the bitter end?

Just a few final thoughts:  The fact has already been made clear that the need for substantive research to track down By-Laws is a straw-man argument.  They were certainly reviewed  prior to the 2011 elections in order to have prepared the proposed By-Law changes that were part of the ballots.   This begs the question, who prepared the proposed By-Law changes?  AMG or the Board?

Lastly, the only reason this issue may cause the NLF to spend money for legal counsel is because AMG refuses to adhere to the By-Laws. She is digging in her heels in a battle that she knows she cannot win in the hopes of wearing people out.  In addition, at the annual meetings AMG claimed that Susie had the right to be a family member because she claims to hold a Power of Attorney for her ex-brother-in-law’s case (a non sequitur).  It was also argued that “once a family member always a family member.”  Well, apparently Ann uses this last argument when it suits her because, as even Larry Echanis stated, his mother lost her family member status when she remarried.  Others did as well.

One would think that with all of the networking that AMG has done over the years in DC that she either would personally know, or have an acquaintance that would know of an attorney, who would look at this issue on a pro-bono basis.    Surely AMG knows this is an option.

******

Tomorrow: The Supporting Evidence of Susie Harvey posing as an MIA Sister

Part II: Money Laundering 101 with Ann Mills-Griffiths

Good Afternoon and thank you for reading.

Today we are going to present the second of two parts on the money laundering scandal that involved Ann and Carol Bates and most likely others.  Collectively these folks worked behind the scenes funneling money from the Support Our POW MIAs non-profit to, basically, as you read yesterday, various recipients in various parts of the world, per AMG’s specific direction.

In early June of 1987 AMG most likely sensed Ron Martz, a journalist with the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, inquiring about the laundering. He wrote this expose which lays out the way AMG used Support Our POW MIAs and their Board to funnel money wherever she pleased.  Read here: Ron_Martz_Article

Apparently, Earl Hopper, former Chairman of the Board of the National League of Families contacted Martz about his article and responded to Hopper here: Letter_from_Martz_to_Hopper  The most significant part of the letter appears at the bottom and was apparently highlighted.  By blowing up the document, the highlighted portion reads, “Griffiths seems to have been much more involved.  (This is) because she and Carol Bates helped set up the whole XXXX.   It was Anne (sic) not LeBoutillier, who knew all the details about the financial transactions.”

In yesterday’s article, we showed you a 1985  letter that Support Our POW MIAs sent to AMG at the urging of their VP Errol Bond, Sr. asking for clarification for two checks that AMG had told them to dispense to an individual and another corporation.  Here you have AMG’s response. Read here: AMGs_denial_of_knowledge_of_money_laudering_1985

AMG’s denial letter, as we said yesterday, lead to the resignation of Support Our POW MIAs’ VP Errol Bond, Sr.   Apparently, there were rough waters between the parties involved and the Support Our POW MIAs eventually saw their non-profit status suspended in the late 1980’s.  (The California Secretary of State website confirmed this, yet we could not confirm if it was in 1986 or early 1987.)

But the story doesn’t end there.

On June 8, 1987, AMG began feeling the pressure as journalist Ron Martz began his investigation for his expose.  Ann was compelled to attack.  Read here: AMG_letter_desperate_allegations.  Three weeks later the article was published.   Yet, most likely Ann,  and some even speculate former NSC official Richard Childress, designed a back-up plan to continue their money laundering.

On January 5, 1988, without the knowledge or permission of the NLF Board, AMG, Executive Director of the National League of Families, established another corporation in the state of Delaware called Foundation for Tomorrow, Inc.  You can see the initial pages of the incorporation paperwork, including the notarized signature of AMG as the sole corporation official.  Read here: Foundation_for_Tomorrow_Incorporation_Documents.

Since beginning to publish this information, we have had over 1,000 hits on the various articles that have been published over the past week.  We sincerely hope that those on the NLF Board will take a good hard look at this information and realize that it is time for a change.