Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
The United States has been, and always will be, a leader in transparent, rights-respecting governance. Our continued commitment to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process underscores the United States’ long-standing role as a global leader in advancing human rights.
As a country whose government derives its authority from the consent of its people, respect for human rights is intrinsic to our national identity. We are committed to the promotion and protection of human rights, as reflected in our own founding documents and the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which the United States and all other members of the United Nations have committed. As our UPR report and presentation clearly demonstrate, the people of the United States demand and our democratic institutions have long proven that they will protect their human rights.
We don’t simply discuss human rights in the United States; we cherish and defend them.
- Jury convicts Laredo man on cocaine chargesBy Sam NewsIn Justice NewsJuly 22, 2021A Laredo federal jury [Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Nigerian President BuhariBy Sam NewsNovember 19, 2021
- Former Colorado Police Officer Sentenced on Sexual Assault ChargesBy Sam NewsFebruary 1, 2021Curtis Arganbright, 43, a former Westminster Police Department (WPD) officer, was sentenced today in federal court in Denver, Colorado, to 72 months in prison and three years supervised release. In addition to his prison sentence, Arganbright will forfeit his law enforcement certification and be required to register as a sex offender.[Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with French President MacronBy Sam NewsJune 25, 2021
- Justice Department Approves Remission of Over $32 Million in Forfeited Funds to Victims in the FIFA Corruption CaseBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021The Department of Justice announced today that it will begin the process of remitting forfeited funds to FIFA, the world organizing body of soccer; CONCACAF, the confederation responsible for soccer governance in North and Central America, among other regions; CONMEBOL, the confederation responsible for soccer governance in South America; and various constituent national soccer federations (collectively, the “Victims”). The department granted a joint petition for remission filed by the Victims, recognizing losses and granting remission up to a total of more than $201 million, of which $32.3 million in forfeited funds has been approved for an initial distribution. In total, well over the amount granted has been seized and has been or is expected to be forfeited to the United States in the Eastern District of New York as part of the government’s long-running investigation and prosecution of corruption in international soccer.[Read More…]
- Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel J. Kritenbrink’s Travel to Southeast Asia November 27 to December 4By Sam NewsNovember 26, 2021
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- Deputy Secretary Biegun’s Visit to BangladeshBy Sam NewsOctober 16, 2020
- Drug Control Grants: ONDCP Should Document Its Process for Identifying Duplication, Overlap, and FragmentationBy Sam NewsDecember 8, 2021What GAO Found As the lead for the nation's drug control efforts, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) posted drug control grant information to its website and is taking steps to ensure it is complete. Specifically, ONDCP collects grant information from relevant federal agencies on an annual basis. For 2020, ONDCP posted this information, which included grant funding opportunities, past awards, and performance information on the grant programs. However, GAO identified at least seven drug control grant programs with publicly available grant performance information that were not posted. Subsequently, ONDCP reviewed and posted the additional information and plans to take steps to validate the completeness of the performance information going forward. Office of National Drug Control Policy Website with Drug Control Grant Resources ONDCP also requires relevant federal agencies to annually report barriers that potential grantees face when applying for drug control grants. ONDCP collected this information in November 2020, and officials stated that they plan to share this information with agencies to help the agencies reduce any systemic barriers. ONDCP officials stated they met the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT Act) requirement to facilitate the identification of duplication, overlap, and fragmentation (DOF) among drug control grants by assessing for DOF during their annual budget review process. However, we could not verify ONDCP's actions to assess for DOF because ONDCP has not documented its process. Federal standards for internal controls call for documentation to demonstrate the design, implementation, and operating effectiveness of an entity's internal control system. Documenting the process for identifying DOF will help ONDCP ensure that it retains organizational knowledge and can communicate and demonstrate the effectiveness of its internal control system to identify DOF. Why GAO Did This Study According to the most recent provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a predicted record high of about 100,300 drug overdose deaths occurred during the 12-month period ending in April 2021. The federal drug control budget for fiscal year 2021 was nearly $36 billion and the federal government has enlisted more than a dozen agencies to address drug misuse and its effects. ONDCP is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the nation's national drug control policy and leading the national drug control efforts. The SUPPORT Act included a provision for GAO to examine ONDCP's tracking of federally funded drug control grants. This report addresses the extent to which ONDCP (1) took steps to provide the public with information on federal drug control grants, (2) took steps to identify barriers when applying for drug control grants, and (3) facilitated federal efforts to identify DOF in drug control grants. To answer these questions, GAO analyzed ONDCP documents on its efforts to identify drug control grants, any barriers to these grants, and its DOF assessments. GAO also analyzed information that ONDCP posted publicly on the 46 drug control grant programs it identified. In addition, GAO interviewed ONDCP officials about these efforts.[Read More…]
- NASA, US and European Partner Satellite Returns First Sea Level MeasurementsBy Sam NewsIn SpaceDecember 17, 2020Launched on a Falcon 9 [Read More…]
- 2020 U.S.-Vietnam Human Rights DialogueBy Sam NewsOctober 6, 2020
- J&F Investimentos S.A. Pleads Guilty and Agrees to Pay Over $256 Million to Resolve Criminal Foreign Bribery CaseBy Sam NewsOctober 14, 2020J&F Investimentos S.A. (J&F), a Brazil-based investment company that owns and controls companies involved in multiple industries, including the meat and agriculture industry, has agreed to pay a criminal monetary penalty of $256,497,026 to resolve the department’s investigation into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The resolution arises out of J&F’s scheme to pay millions of dollars in bribes to government officials in Brazil in exchange for obtaining financing and other benefits for J&F and J&F-owned entities.[Read More…]
- Military Readiness: Impact of Current Operations and Actions Needed to Rebuild Readiness of U.S. Ground ForcesBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021U.S. military forces, and ground forces in particular, have operated at a high pace since the attacks of September 11, 2001, including to support ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Between 2001 and July 2007, approximately 931,000 U.S. Army and Marine Corps servicemembers deployed for overseas military operations, including about 312,000 National Guard or Reserve members. To support ongoing military operations and related activities, Congress has appropriated billions of dollars since 2001, and through September 2007, the Department of Defense (DOD) has reported obligating about $492.2 billion to cover these expenses, of which a large portion are related to readiness. In addition, DOD's annual appropriation, now totaling about $480 billion for fiscal year 2008, includes funds to cover readiness needs. GAO was asked to testify on (1) the readiness implications of DOD's efforts to support ongoing operations; and (2) GAO's prior recommendations related to these issues, including specific actions that GAO believes would enhance DOD's ability to manage and improve readiness. This statement is based on reports and testimonies published from fiscal years 2003 through 2008. GAO's work was conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.While DOD has overcome difficult challenges in maintaining a high pace of operations over the past 6 years and U.S. forces have gained considerable combat experience, our work has shown that extended operations in Iraq and elsewhere have had significant consequences for military readiness, particularly with regard to the Army and Marine Corps. To meet mission requirements specific to Iraq and Afghanistan, the department has taken steps to increase the availability of personnel and equipment for deploying units, and to refocus their training on assigned missions. For example, to maintain force levels in theater, DOD has increased the length of deployments and frequency of mobilizations, but it is unclear whether these adjustments will affect recruiting and retention. The Army and Marine Corps have also transferred equipment from nondeploying units and prepositioned stocks to support deploying units, affecting the availability of items for nondeployed units to meet other demands. In addition, they have refocused training such that units train extensively for counterinsurgency missions, with little time available to train for a fuller range of missions. Finally, DOD has adopted strategies, such as relying more on Navy and Air Force personnel and contractors to perform some tasks formerly handled by Army or Marine Corps personnel. If current operations continue at the present level of intensity, DOD could face difficulty in balancing these commitments with the need to rebuild and maintain readiness. Over the past several years, GAO has reported on a range of issues related to military readiness and made numerous recommendations to enhance DOD's ability to manage and improve readiness. Given the change in the security environment since September 11, 2001, and demands on U.S. military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, rebuilding readiness will be a long-term and complex effort. However, GAO believes DOD can take measures that will advance progress in both the short and long terms. A common theme is the need for DOD to take a more strategic decision-making approach to ensure programs and investments are based on plans with measurable goals, validated requirements, prioritized resource needs, and performance measures to gauge progress. Overall, GAO recommended that DOD develop a near-term plan for improving the readiness of ground forces that, among other things, establishes specific goals for improving unit readiness, prioritizes actions needed to achieve those goals, and outlines an investment strategy to clearly link resource needs and funding requests. GAO also made recommendations in several specific readiness-related areas, including that DOD develop equipping strategies to target shortages of items required to equip units preparing for deployment, and DOD adjust its training strategies to include a plan to support full-spectrum training. DOD agreed with some recommendations, but has yet to fully implement them. For others, particularly when GAO recommended that DOD develop more robust plans linked to resources, DOD believed its current efforts were sufficient. GAO continues to believe such plans are needed.[Read More…]
- Disarmament Law and Morality: A CritiqueBy Sam NewsNovember 13, 2020Dr. Christopher Ashley [Read More…]
- Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry Engages European Allies on Climate AmbitionBy Sam NewsMarch 7, 2021
- The United States Condemns Attack on Saudi ArabiaBy Sam NewsJanuary 24, 2021Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
- Justice Department Settles Discrimination Claim Against Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc.By Sam NewsMay 17, 2021The Department of Justice today announced that it reached a settlement with Aerojet Rocketdyne Inc. (Aerojet Rocketdyne), a rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer. The settlement resolves a charge brought by a lawful permanent resident whom Aerojet Rocketdyne did not consider for a mechanic position because of his immigration status. The department’s investigation concluded that Aerojet Rocketdyne violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when it only considered U.S. citizens for 12 mechanic positions in Jupiter, Florida, without legal justification.[Read More…]
- VA and Defense Health Care: More Information Needed to Determine If VA Can Meet an Increase in Demand for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ServicesBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is caused by an extremely stressful event and can develop after the threat of death or serious injury as in military combat. Experts predict that about 15 percent of servicemembers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan will develop PTSD. Efforts by VA to inform new veterans, including Reserve and National Guard members, about the expanded availability of VA health care services could result in an increased demand for VA PTSD services. GAO identified the approaches DOD uses to identify servicemembers at risk for PTSD and examined if VA has the information it needs to determine whether it can meet an increase in demand for PTSD services. GAO visited military bases and VA facilities, reviewed relevant documents, and interviewed DOD and VA officials to determine how DOD identifies servicemembers at risk for PTSD, and what information VA has to estimate demand for VA PTSD services.DOD uses two approaches to identify servicemembers at risk for PTSD: the combat stress control program and the post-deployment health assessment questionnaire. The combat stress control program trains servicemembers to recognize the early onset of combat stress, which can lead to PTSD. Symptoms of combat stress and PTSD include insomnia, nightmares, and difficulties coping with relationships. To assist servicemembers in the combat theater, teams of DOD mental health professionals travel to units to reinforce the servicemembers' knowledge of combat stress symptoms and to help identify those who may be at risk for combat stress and PTSD. DOD also uses the post-deployment health assessment questionnaire to identify physical ailments and mental health issues commonly associated with deployments, including PTSD. The questionnaire includes the following four screening questions that VA and DOD mental health experts developed to identify servicemembers at risk for PTSD: Have you ever had any experience that was so frightening, horrible, or upsetting that, in the past month, you (1) have had any nightmares about it or thought about it when you did not want to; (2) tried hard not to think about it or went out of your way to avoid situations that remind you of it; (3) were constantly on guard, watchful, or easily startled; and/or (4) felt numb or detached from others, activities, or your surroundings? VA lacks the information it needs to determine whether it can meet an increase in demand for VA PTSD services. VA does not have a count of the total number of veterans currently receiving PTSD services at its medical facilities and Vet Centers--community-based VA facilities that offer trauma and readjustment counseling. Without this information, VA cannot estimate the number of new veterans its medical facilities and Vet Centers could treat for PTSD. VA has two reports on the number of veterans it currently treats, with each report counting different subsets of veterans receiving PTSD services. Veterans who are receiving VA PTSD services may be counted in both reports, one of the reports, or not included in either report. VA does receive demographic information from DOD, which includes home addresses of servicemembers that could help VA predict which medical facilities or Vet Centers servicemembers may access for health care. By assuming that 15 percent or more of servicemembers who have left active duty status will develop PTSD, VA could use the home zip codes of servicemembers to broadly estimate the number of servicemembers who may need VA PTSD services and identify the VA facilities located closest to their homes. However, predicting which veterans will seek VA care and at which facilities is inherently uncertain, particularly given that the symptoms of PTSD may not appear for years.[Read More…]
- Warfighter Support: Independent Expert Assessment of Army Body Armor Test Results and Procedures Needed Before FieldingBy Sam NewsSeptember 21, 2021The Army has issued soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan personal body armor, comprising an outer protective vest and ceramic plate inserts. GAO observed Preliminary Design Model testing of new plate designs, which resulted in the Army's awarding contracts in September 2008 valued at a total of over $8 billion to vendors of the designs that passed that testing. Between November and December 2008, the Army conducted further testing, called First Article Testing, on these designs. GAO is reporting on the degree to which the Army followed its established testing protocols during these two tests. GAO did not provide an expert ballistics evaluation of the results of testing. GAO, using a structured, GAO-developed data collection instrument, observed both tests at the Army's Aberdeen Test Center, analyzed data, and interviewed agency and industry officials to evaluate observed deviations from testing protocols. However, independent ballistics testing expertise is needed to determine the full effect of these deviations.During Preliminary Design Model testing the Army took significant steps to run a controlled test and maintain consistency throughout the process, but the Army did not always follow established testing protocols and, as a result, did not achieve its intended test objective of determining as a basis for awarding contracts which designs met performance requirements. In the most consequential of the Army's deviations from testing protocols, the Army testers incorrectly measured the amount of force absorbed by the plate designs by measuring back-face deformation in the clay backing at the point of aim rather than at the deepest point of depression. Army testers recognized the error after completing about a third of the test and then changed the test plan to call for measuring at the point of aim and likewise issued a modification to the contract solicitation. At least two of the eight designs that passed Preliminary Design Model testing and were awarded contracts would have failed if measurements had been made to the deepest point of depression. The deviations from the testing protocols were the result of Aberdeen Test Center's incorrectly interpreting the testing protocols. In all these cases of deviations from the testing protocols, the Aberdeen Test Center's implemented procedures were not reviewed or approved by the Army and Department of Defense officials responsible for approving the testing protocols. After concerns were raised regarding the Preliminary Design Model testing, the decision was made not to field any of the plate designs awarded contracts until after First Article Testing was conducted. During First Article Testing, the Army addressed some of the problems identified during Preliminary Design Model testing, but GAO observed instances in which Army testers did not follow the established testing protocols and did not maintain internal controls over the integrity and reliability of data, raising questions as to whether the Army met its First Article Test objective of determining whether each of the contracted designs met performance requirements. The following are examples of deviations from testing protocols and other issues that GAO observed: (1) The clay backing placed behind the plates during ballistics testing was not always calibrated in accordance with testing protocols and was exposed to rain on one day, potentially impacting test results. (2) Testers improperly rounded down back-face deformation measurements, which is not authorized in the established testing protocols and which resulted in two designs passing First Article Testing that otherwise would have failed. Army officials said rounding is a common practice; however, one private test facility that rounds told GAO that they round up, not down. (3) Testers used a new instrument to measure back-face deformation without adequately certifying that the instrument could function correctly and in conformance with established testing protocols. The impact of this issue on test results is uncertain, but it could call into question the reliability and accuracy of the measurements. (4) Testers deviated from the established testing protocols in one instance by improperly scoring a complete penetration as a partial penetration. As a result, one design passed First Article Testing that would have otherwise failed. With respect to internal control issues, the Army did not consistently maintain adequate internal controls to ensure the integrity and reliability of test data. In one example, during ballistic testing, data were lost, and testing had to be repeated because an official accidentally pressed the delete button and software controls were not in place to protect the integrity of test data. Army officials acknowledged that before GAO's review they were unaware of the specific internal control problems we identified.[Read More…]
- Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Meeting with Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs RollBy Sam NewsNovember 16, 2021