Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
Beginning on July 11, tens of thousands of Cubans across the island took to the streets to peacefully demand their fundamental freedoms and a better future. The Cuban government responded with violence.
Today, democracies around the world are coming together to support the Cuban people, calling on the Cuban government to respect Cubans’ demands for universal human rights. As President Biden said, the Cuban people made a “clarion call for freedom.”
The Cuban government has responded not by recognizing the voices of its own people, but by further stifling those voices through arbitrary detentions and secret summary trials lacking due process guarantees.
The United States will continue to support the Cuban people’s desire for freedom and to determine their own future. This joint statement demonstrates that the Cuban people are not alone in their aspirations.
We are joined by Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Guatemala, Greece, Honduras, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Republic of Korea, and Ukraine.
The United States and the international community will continue to provide support to the Cuban people as they seek to exercise those universal human rights and freedoms to which all individuals are entitled.
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- U.S. Secret Service: Further Progress Made Implementing the Protective Mission Panel RecommendationsBy Sam NewsJanuary 26, 2022What GAO Found In December 2014, the U.S. Secret Service Protective Mission Panel—an independent panel of experts established to review White House security and other aspects of Secret Service operations—made 19 recommendations related to training and personnel, technology and operations, and leadership. The agency has made progress implementing the 19 Protective Mission Panel (Panel) recommendations. Specifically, the Secret Service has taken actions to address 13 of the 19 recommendations, including two since GAO's last assessment in 2019. For example, the agency revised its budget processes to incorporate principles of mission-based budgeting in its budget formulation process. In February 2019, the Secret Service formally incorporated a new budgeting process and, in August 2021, issued its Fiscal Years 2021-2025 Human Capital Strategic Plan , which includes revised staffing models to be used in developing the budget. In addition, the agency developed and implemented its Leadership Development System framework across all occupational categories in the agency. The framework is intended to promote leadership within individuals, teams, and projects and result in a positive effect on performance and agency mission accomplishment. The Secret Service is in the process of implementing the remaining six recommendations. For example, the Panel found in its report that the security incident of September 19, 2014, when an intruder jumped the north fence and entered the White House, arose from a “catastrophic failure of training.” The Panel recommended that the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Protective Divisions train for 25 percent of their work time. In August 2021, the Secret Service, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Management and Budget, established a new training target—at least 12 percent of work hours by fiscal year 2025—that takes the availability of resources into account. (See fig.). Share of Regular Work Hours That Presidential and Vice-Presidential Protective Detail Agents Spent in Training, Fiscal Years 2014 through 2020 Why GAO Did This Study The Secret Service, a component of the Department of Homeland Security is responsible for providing physical protection for the President, the Vice President, their immediate families, and visiting foreign dignitaries, as well as for the White House complex. The Secret Service Overtime Pay Extension Act includes a provision for GAO to report on the extent of progress made by the Secret Service in implementing the Panel's recommendations. This report addresses the progress that the Secret Service has made toward implementing the Panel's recommendations. For this report, GAO reviewed relevant Secret Service planning and implementation documents, analyzed agency training data from fiscal years 2014 through 2020, and interviewed agency officials.[Read More…]
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- Commercial Vehicle Security: Risk-Based Approach Needed to Secure the Commercial Vehicle SectorBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021Numerous incidents around the world have highlighted the vulnerability of commercial vehicles to terrorist acts. Commercial vehicles include over 1 million highly diverse truck and intercity bus firms. Within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has primary federal responsibility for ensuring the security of the commercial vehicle sector, while vehicle operators are responsible for implementing security measures for their firms. GAO was asked to examine: (1) the extent to which TSA has assessed security risks for commercial vehicles; (2) actions taken by key stakeholders to mitigate identified risks; and (3) TSA efforts to coordinate its security strategy with other federal, state, and private sector stakeholders. GAO reviewed TSA plans, assessments, and other documents; visited a nonrandom sample of 26 commercial truck and bus companies of varying sizes, locations, and types of operations; and interviewed TSA and other federal and state officials and industry representatives.TSA has taken actions to evaluate the security risks associated with the commercial vehicle sector, including assessing threats and initiating vulnerability assessments, but more work remains to fully gauge security risks. Risk assessment uses a combined analysis of threat, vulnerability, and consequence to estimate the likelihood of terrorist attacks and the severity of their impact. TSA conducted threat assessments of the commercial vehicle sector and has also cosponsored a vulnerability assessment pilot program in Missouri. However, TSA's threat assessments generally have not identified the likelihood of specific threats, as required by DHS policy. TSA has also not determined the scope, method, and time frame for completing vulnerability assessments of the commercial vehicle sector. In addition, TSA has not conducted consequence assessments, or leveraged the consequence assessments of other sectors. As a result of limitations with its threat, vulnerability, and consequence assessments, TSA cannot be sure that its approach for securing the commercial vehicle sector addresses the highest priority security needs. Moreover, TSA has not developed a plan or time frame to complete a risk assessment of the sector. Nor has TSA completed a report on commercial trucking security as required by the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act (9/11 Commission Act). Key government and industry stakeholders have taken actions to strengthen the security of commercial vehicles, but TSA has not assessed the effectiveness of federal programs. TSA and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have implemented programs to strengthen security, particularly those emphasizing the protection of hazardous materials. States have also worked collaboratively to strengthen commercial vehicle security through their transportation and law enforcement officials' associations, and the establishment of fusion centers. TSA also has begun developing and using performance measures to monitor the progress of its program activities to secure the commercial vehicle sector, but has not developed measures to assess the effectiveness of these actions in mitigating security risks. Without such information, TSA will be limited in its ability to measure its success in enhancing commercial vehicle security. While TSA has also taken actions to improve coordination with federal, state, and industry stakeholders, more can be done to ensure that these coordination efforts enhance security for the sector. TSA signed joint agreements with DOT and supported the establishment of intergovernmental and industry councils to strengthen collaboration. TSA and DOT completed an agreement to avoid duplication of effort as required by the 9/11 Commission Act. However, some state and industry officials GAO interviewed reported that TSA had not clearly defined stakeholder roles and responsibilities consistent with leading practices for collaborating agencies. TSA has not developed a means to monitor and assess the effectiveness of its coordination efforts. Without enhanced coordination with the states, TSA will have difficulty expanding its vulnerability assessments.[Read More…]
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- Defense Health: Coordinating Authority Needed for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Activities [Reissued on January 27, 2012]By Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021What GAO Found From fiscal year 2007 through fiscal year 2010, DOD activities for the treatment and research of PH and TBI received more than $2.7 billion. In fiscal year 2007, funding for these activities totaled $900 million; in fiscal year 2008, it was $573.8 million; in fiscal year 2009, $395 million; and in fiscal year 2010, $838.6 million. GAO found, however, that the reports DOD provided to Congress on these activities did not include expenditures, as required by law, and that the obligations data they contained were unreliable. Governmentwide policies call for agencies to have effective internal controls to assure accurate reporting of obligations and expenditures. However, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs has not developed quality control mechanisms to help ensure that data on PH and TBI activities are complete and accurate. Further, although DOD listed patient care among reported costs, it did not specify what those costs included, making it difficult for decisionmakers and Congress to fully understand the costs. No one organization coordinates DOD’s PH and TBI activities. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 directed the Secretary of Defense to establish a Center for PTSD and a Center for TBI to, among other things, implement DOD’s comprehensive plans for these issues, disseminate best practices, provide guidance, and conduct research. Subsequently, a Senior Oversight Committee established by the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs reported in its plan to Congress that DOD had created a single Defense Center of Excellence for PH and TBI (DCOE) to lead efforts in practice standards, training, outreach, research, and direct care. The Committee tasked DCOE with acting as an information clearinghouse that would allow servicemembers and their families to navigate the system of care. In its own plan, DCOE stated that it would serve as a coordinating authority for DOD's PH and TBI issues and perform a gap analysis to identify needed programming. GAO found, however, as it had in prior reports, that DCOE’s strategic plan did not reflect a clear mission focusing the organization on its statutory responsibilities. Instead, those responsibilities are dispersed among the TRICARE Management Activity, the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, and others. While the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs has broad oversight for all of DOD’s medical missions, its global role prevents it from focusing on PH and TBI activities specifically. As a result, no single organization is devoted to ensuring that accurate and timely data are available on DOD’s PH and TBI activities or coordinating these activities. GAO, in conducting this review, had to obtain information from several different sources to compile a comprehensive list of DOD's PH and TBI activities. This finding was echoed in a recent RAND report that also noted that no single source in DOD tracked its PH and TBI programs or had appropriate resources to direct servicemembers to the full array of programs available. Without an entity to coordinate these activities, DOD will remain hampered in its efforts to ensure that resources are used effectively to meet goals, and Congress will be limited in its ability to obtain reliable information to guide decisionmaking. Why GAO Did This Study Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which falls into the broader field of psychological health (PH), and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are recognized as the signature wounds of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In two reports issued in 2011 (GAO-11-219 and GAO-11-611 ), GAO cited numerous management weaknesses at the Defense Center of Excellence for PH and TBI (DCOE). For the present report, GAO reviewed (1) funding for DOD's PH and TBI activities in fiscal years 2007 through 2010 and the accuracy of its reporting on these activities to Congress and (2) DOD's ability to coordinate its PH and TBI activities to help ensure that funds are used to support programs of the most benefit to service- members. GAO interviewed DOD officials, reviewed legislation and DOD’s annual reports, and obtained relevant documentation.[Read More…]
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