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Revealed: How Countrywide Crashed the Housing Market and Got Away With It

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"...the U.S. economy will never truly thrive so long as criminals can blatantly rob the country..."

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Although it seems that Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party are as different as night and day, there may be one important thing that they have in common: anger about the dysfunction and cronyism crippling the U.S. government and economy.

This two-part video by 60 Minutes carefully details how both Countrywide Financial and Citigroup partook in reckless and oftentimes illegal behavior that helped bring about the housing market collapse--with zero repercussions.

Eileen Foster, a former executive vice president in charge of fraud investigations at mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, told CBS 60 Minutes reporter Steve Kroft that mortgage fraud was a common occurrence at the firm.

She claims that she faced illegal retaliation for filing reports investigating the fraud, alleging Countrywide fired her when she refused to lie to federal regulators on Countrywide's behalf, reports the Huffington Post.

"From what I saw, the types of things I saw, it was, it appeared systemic," Foster said on 60 Minutes Sunday. "It wasn't just one individual or two or three individuals, it was branches of individuals, it was regions of individuals."

A separate recently-released government report also claims that government lending agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac "illegally foreclosed on homeowners by failing to hold banks properly accountable for subprime loans," reports the HuffPo.

As for Foster, she's since been vindicated since being fired for what Countrywide called "inappropriate and unprofessional conduct," the Wall Street Journal reports. This fall, she was awarded nearly a million dollars in back pay and benefits from BofA for wrongful termination.

But it's this sort of behavior, and what Foster was put through, that perfectly illustrates why the U.S. is in need of comprehensive repair.

Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or you don’t care about politics, the U.S. economy will never truly thrive so long as criminals can blatantly rob the country in plain view without any sort of repercussions.

Watch part 1 of the 60 minutes report:

See part 2 of the 60 minutes report where they discuss Citigroup's part in the financial meltdown:

"I have to imagine Angelo Mozilo and all the other thieves must be laughing at the incompetence of the American people who are too busy blaming Democrats or Republicans for all their problems,"  writes Damien Hoffman of Wall St. Cheat Sheet.

Indeed, Hoffman continues, instead of simply blaming one party or another, perhaps it would be in the best interest of average Americans to "finally [band] together to eradicate the financial terrorists in our country like Mozilo, Dick Fuld, and all the politicians who didn’t represent us against harmful interests."

[Editor' note: portions of the above are from a post that originally appeared on Wall St. Cheat Sheet.]

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