Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Yang Man-Hee of Seoul Broadcasting System

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Seoul, Korea

Chief of Mission Residence

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) I understand that you will soon leave the country to have a meeting with China, and I would like to thank you very much for selecting SBS for your last interview before leaving the country.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  It’s good to be with you.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) So my first question will be whether you’re overall satisfied with this various consultation that you had with the ROK Government during your visit this time.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  The short answer is yes, we had very productive meetings.  And this is my first overseas trip as Secretary of State.  I was joined here by our Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, also his first overseas trip.  And it’s no accident that we made that first trip here to Korea as well as to Japan.  It was very important to President Biden to demonstrate the value that we place upon the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea, an alliance that has stood us in such good stead over many, many years.

We talk about the linchpin of peace, security and prosperity in the region, and we wanted to reaffirm that alliance, but not just reaffirm it – build on it.  And I think over the last 36 hours or so, that’s exactly what we’ve done.  We’ve had very productive meetings with our counterparts.  We were honored to be received by President Moon.  And I think we have a very good work program going forward on so many different issues, issues – bilateral issues between the United States and Korea, regional issues, and global issues.  We’re working on all of those different fronts.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) So I understand that you just came out of a meeting with President Moon, and I was wondering whether you talked about resuming this Korean Peninsula peace process, whether it was brought up during your meeting with President Moon.  And also, I understand that next month, President Biden will have a face-to-face meeting for the first time in a long while with the prime minister of Japan.  I was wondering whether you have a similar plan with President Moon.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  It was an honor to be received by President Moon.  We had a very good conversation about the many issues that we discussed in our ministerial meetings over the last day.  And yes, we certainly discussed the Korean Peninsula issues, the DPRK.  And we’re in the midst of a review of our policy that President Biden instructed us to conduct.  And a critical part of that review is to consult very closely with Korea as well as with Japan and other allies and partners.  We’re in the midst of doing that, and the last 24 hours were incredibly helpful to us in hearing from our partners here their perspectives, their views, which will be fully integrated into the work that we’re doing.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) So maybe because you visited South Korea, North Korea started reacting to it and came out with some statements.  And Foreign Minister Chung said that’s North Korea’s own way of expressing that it’s interested in this.  So what do you think of that comment by North Korea?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, I’m aware of the statements made by North Korea, but the statements I’m most interested in right now are the ones coming from our allies and partners to make sure that we have all of their views and perspectives as we undertake this review of our North Korea policy.  So that’s what I’m focused on right now.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) I understand that you have strongly criticized human rights abuse in China and North Korea, but due to Korea’s complex relationship with China and North Korea, Korea hasn’t really fully come out strongly condemning such situation in North Korea.  Do you think Korea should change its policy direction in terms of human rights issues?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  President Biden feels very strongly that for the United States, we need to put human rights and democracy back at the heart of our foreign policy, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.  But we’re not doing it on a selective basis.  When we see countries abusing in egregious ways human rights, we will speak up and speak out, and so that’s what we’re doing.  But that’s the focus that the President has asked us to bring to our foreign policy, and we’re acting on that.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) During Obama administration, you were working as a deputy secretary, and during those time, you were involved in addressing North Korean nuclear issue.  And back then, you were saying the pressure campaign against North Korea through China and other countries are effective way to deal with North Korea.  But that has – that’s been a long time ever since you did that, and then North Korea came out with the statement that we need new change and direction of dealing with all this.  And then some people are saying North Korea has almost completed its nuclear arsenal.

So do you still believe that sanctions and pressure campaign is still effective measure to deal with North Korea?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, I don’t want to get ahead of our review or the results of our review, but what I can tell you is we have a very open mind as we’re conducting the review.  We’re considering all different perspectives on the issue, especially the perspectives of our closest partners here in South Korea and Japan, but I don’t want to get ahead of the results.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) You emphasized the trilateral coordination between Korea, Japan, and the United States as very important for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific area, and now we’re – already had a Quad meeting happen and there – some people are discussing or – discussing or thinking of a possibility of extending the Quad group.  So what do you think Korea’s role in participating in any way in the Quad?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, first, on the trilateral cooperation, I found that to be extremely productive, and I think it is vital to our common security that we engage together on the issue of North Korea with South Korea, with Japan.  And when I was working on these issues before as deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration, the trilateral cooperation was extremely productive not just on – in terms of North Korea, but on many, many issues that our three countries have in common and have to deal with together to deal with them effectively.  So we’ve already, in the context of the review that we’re undertaking, had trilateral conversations led on our side by the former ambassador here, Sung Kim, and I look forward to doing more on that.

We’re also involved in a number of informal sub-regional gatherings like the Quad, like the trilateral cooperation with Japan and Korea.  We’re working closely with Korea on its own strategy for the South.  And I’m sure we’ll find ways to cooperate and do things with the Quad as well.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) When you were deputy secretary before, you created this consultative body between the U.S. and Korea and Japan to handle this comfort women issue, but compared to that, current state of Korea and Japan relationship is very, very worse compared to that.  So what do you think the State Department can do to take part in this issue, and if you have any initiative or ideas or concept to how you’d like – involved in this?  Do you – can you share that with us?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, we know, of course, that there are very sensitive and difficult issues of history between our partners.  And what I would say is that we would, as we have in the past, encourage them to try to work through them in a spirit of reconciliation.  At the same time, we have challenges today, challenges we’ll face tomorrow, that I think make it imperative that we find ways to work together.  And so I hope that even as Korea and Japan are addressing these issues of history, we’re also finding ways to work together to deal with the issues of today.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) My last question would be:  Currently, the special ambassador or envoy to handle the North Korea nuclear issue is still empty.  When do we know who is going to be in that position?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, we’re, of course, just, what, about two months into the administration.  We’re working very, very hard to fill the most senior positions, including envoys and ambassadors.  And so I think you’ll see that in relatively short order in the weeks or certainly the months ahead.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  Thanks very much.  Nice to see you again.

More from: Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Hits: 0

News Network

  • Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Hugh Hewitt of the Hugh Hewitt Show
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Former President of Nuclear Transportation Company Sentenced to Prison for Foreign Bribery and Other Offenses
    In Crime News
    The former president of Transport Logistics International Inc. (TLI), a Maryland-based transportation company that provides services for the transportation of nuclear materials to customers in the United States and abroad, was sentenced today to 48 months in prison and three years of supervised release for his role in a scheme to bribe a Russian official in exchange for obtaining contracts for the company.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Obtains $20,000 Settlement Against Tampa, Florida Towing Company for Unlawfully Selling Deployed Servicemember’s Car
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today announced that Target Recovery Towing Inc. (Target) has agreed to enter into a court-enforceable consent order to resolve allegations that it failed to obtain a legally required court order before auctioning off a car belonging to a U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant who was deployed overseas. 
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken Virtual Remarks to Embassy Kyiv Staff
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • State-Sponsored Iranian Hackers Indicted for Computer Intrusions at U.S. Satellite Companies
    In Crime News
    An indictment was unsealed today charging three computer hackers, all of whom were residents and nationals of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran), with engaging in a coordinated campaign of identity theft and hacking on behalf of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization, in order to steal critical information related to U.S. aerospace and satellite technology and resources.
    [Read More…]
  • Global Entry for Indian Citizens
    In Travel
    How to Apply for Global [Read More…]
  • Department of Justice Files Complaint Against California Company To Stop Distribution of Adulterated Animal Drugs
    In Crime News
    The United States filed a civil complaint to stop a California company from manufacturing and distributing adulterated animal drugs, the Department of Justice announced today.
    [Read More…]
  • Federal Research: Agencies Need to Enhance Policies to Address Foreign Influence
    In U.S GAO News
    U.S. research may be subject to undue foreign influence in cases where a researcher has a foreign conflict of interest (COI). Federal grant-making agencies can address this threat by implementing COI policies and requiring the disclosure of information that may indicate potential conflicts. GAO reviewed five agencies—which together accounted for almost 90 percent of all federal research and development expenditures at universities in fiscal year 2018—and found that three have agency-wide COI policies, while two do not (see figure). The three agencies with existing policies focus on financial interests but do not specifically address or define non-financial interests, such as multiple professional appointments. In the absence of agency-wide COI policies and definitions on non-financial interests, researchers may not fully understand what they need to report on their grant proposals, leaving agencies with incomplete information to assess the risk of foreign influence. GAO found that, regardless of whether an agency has a conflict of interest policy, all five agencies require researchers to disclose information—such as foreign support for their research—as part of the grant proposal that could be used to determine if certain conflicts exist. Elements of Conflict of Interest (COI) Policies at Agencies with the Most Federal Research Expenditures at Universities Based on a review of university documents, GAO found that all 11 of the universities in its sample have publicly available financial and non-financial COI policies for federally funded research. These policies often align with the financial COI policies or requirements of the grant-making agencies. All five agencies have mechanisms to monitor and enforce their policies and disclosure requirements when there is an alleged failure to disclose required information. All agencies rely on universities to monitor financial COI, and most agencies collect non-financial information such as foreign collaborations, that can help determine if conflicts exist. Agencies have also taken actions in cases where they identified researchers who failed to disclose financial or non-financial information. However, three agencies lack written procedures for handling allegations of failure to disclose required information. Written procedures for addressing alleged failure to disclose required information help agencies manage these allegations and consistently apply enforcement actions. In interviews, stakeholders identified opportunities to improve responses to foreign threats to research, such as harmonizing grant application requirements. Agencies have begun to address such issues. The federal government reportedly expended about $42 billion on science and engineering research at universities in fiscal year 2018. Safeguarding the U.S. research enterprise from threats of foreign influence is of critical importance. Recent reports by GAO and others have noted challenges faced by the research community to combat undue foreign influence, while maintaining an open research environment that fosters collaboration, transparency, and the free exchange of ideas. GAO was asked to review federal agency and university COI policies and disclosure requirements. In this report, GAO examines (1) COI policies and disclosure requirements at selected agencies and universities that address potential foreign threats, (2) mechanisms to monitor and enforce policies and requirements, and (3) the views of selected stakeholders on how to better address foreign threats to federally funded research. GAO reviewed laws, regulations, federal guidance, and agency and university COI policies and requirements. GAO also interviewed agency officials, university officials, and researchers. GAO is making nine recommendations to six agencies, including that grant-making agencies address non-financial conflicts of interest in their COI policies and develop written procedures for addressing cases of failure to disclose required information. Five agencies agreed with GAO's recommendations. The National Science Foundation neither agreed nor disagreed with GAO's recommendation, but identified actions it plans to take in response. For more information, contact Candice N. Wright at (202) 512-6888 or wrightc@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Over 300 People Facing Federal Charges For Crimes Committed During Nationwide Demonstrations
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that more than 300 individuals in 29 states and Washington, D.C., have been charged for crimes committed adjacent to or under the guise of peaceful demonstrations since the end of May.
    [Read More…]
  • Department Press Briefing – March 1, 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • VA Police: Actions Needed to Improve Data Completeness and Accuracy on Use of Force Incidents at Medical Centers
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) policy on use of force states that police officers must use the minimal level of force that is reasonably necessary to gain control of a situation and should only utilize physical control methods on an individual when the force is justified by the individual's actions. To guide officers, VA developed a Use of Force Continuum Scale to define and clarify the categories of force that can be used. Categories of Force on the VA’s Use of Force Continuum Scale According to VA policy, all police officers must receive training on the VA's use of force policy when hired and biannually thereafter. Officers are trained—through classroom lectures and scenarios that emphasize effective communication techniques—to use the minimal level of force to deescalate a situation. Officers record use of force incidents electronically and the chief of police decides which, if any, use of force incidents need to be investigated in accordance with VA guidance. Chiefs of Police at the six facilities GAO visited conducted investigations in a similar manner, by reviewing evidence and comparing an officer's action with the VA's use of force policy to determine whether actions were justified. While most investigations are conducted at the local level, VA headquarters may also run investigations for certain incidents, such as when it receives a complaint against an officer. VA police officers record incidents in a database, Report Executive, but GAO's analysis indicates that VA data on use of force incidents are not sufficiently complete and accurate for reporting numbers or trends at medical centers nationwide. For example, GAO found that 176 out of 1,214 use of force incident reports did not include the specific type of force used. Further, Report Executive does not track incidents by individual medical centers. By addressing these limitations, VA can more effectively monitor use of force trends by type of force or medical facility, among other variables, to understand the VA's use of force incidents nationwide. GAO also found that VA does not systematically collect or analyze use of force investigation findings from local medical centers, limiting its ability to provide effective oversight. Specifically, there is no policy requiring Chiefs of Police to submit all investigations on use of force to VA headquarters, and VA does not have a database designed to collect and analyze data on use of force investigations. Collecting and analyzing such data nationwide would allow VA to better assess the impact of its deescalation policies and improve the agency's oversight efforts. About 5,000 VA police officers are responsible for securing and protecting 138 VA medical centers across the country. These officers are authorized to investigate crimes, make arrests, and carry firearms. The Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 included a provision that GAO assess aspects of the VA police services. This report addresses (1) what the VA's policies are on the use of force by police officers at medical centers, and what training officers receive on the use of force; (2) how VA records and investigates use of force incidents at medical centers; and (3) the extent to which VA sufficiently collects and analyzes use of force data at medical centers. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed VA policies, procedures, and training materials on the use of force and interviewed VA officials at headquarters and six local medical centers, selected to represent varying size and locations. GAO reviewed VA data on use of force incidents recorded from May 10, 2019, through May 10, 2020—the most recent full year data were available. GAO is making five recommendations, including that VA improve the completeness and accuracy of its use of force data; implement a tool to analyze use of force incidents at medical centers nationwide; ensure that medical centers submit all use of force investigations to VA headquarters; and analyze the use of force investigation data. The VA concurred with each of GAO's recommendations. For more information, contact Gretta L. Goodwin at (202) 512-8777 or goodwing@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Final Defendant Sentenced in $7 Billion Investment Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    The former chief of Antigua’s Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC) was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for his role in connection with a $7 billion Ponzi scheme involving the Stanford International Bank (SIB).
    [Read More…]
  • Owner of Sport Supplement Company Sentenced for Unlawful Distribution of Steroid-Like Drugs
    In Crime News
    A North Carolina sport supplement company owner was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison after pleading guilty to introducing unapproved new drugs into interstate commerce, the Department of Justice announced.
    [Read More…]
  • Bhutan Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Do not travel to Bhutan [Read More…]
  • Seven North Carolina Tax Preparers Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud the IRS
    In Crime News
    Seven Charlotte, North Carolina tax return preparers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States by preparing and filing false tax returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, U.S. Attorney R. Andrew Murray for the Western District of North Carolina, and Special Agent in Charge Matthew D. Line of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
    [Read More…]
  • Portugal Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry with Raj Chengappa of India Today
    In Climate - Environment - Conservation
    John Kerry, Special [Read More…]
  • Virginia Attorneys Sentenced for Attempting to Extort a Multinational Chemicals Company
    In Crime News
    Two Virginia attorneys were sentenced today on federal extortion charges for their roles in a scheme to extort a multinational chemicals company by threatening to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if their demands for a $200 million payment disguised as a purported “consulting agreement” were not met.
    [Read More…]
  • Civil Rights Division Opens Investigation into Potential Discrimination in Public Contracting
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division has opened an investigation into whether the public contracting and procurement practices of Kansas City, Missouri comply with the U.S. Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Massachusetts Property Manager
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it has filed a lawsuit alleging that a property manager in Chicopee, Massachusetts violated the Fair Housing Act by subjecting female tenants to sexual harassment.
    [Read More…]
  • NFL Player Charged for Role in $24 Million COVID-Relief Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    An NFL player has been charged for his alleged participation in a scheme to file fraudulent loan applications seeking more than $24 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
    [Read More…]
  • Remarks at Perth USAsia Center
    In Climate - Environment - Conservation
    Ambassador Atul Keshap, [Read More…]
  • Angola Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Guy Benson of The Guy Benson Show
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Global Entry for UK Citizens
    In Travel
    How to Apply for Global [Read More…]
  • Navy and Marine Corps: Services Continue Efforts to Rebuild Readiness, but Recovery Will Take Years and Sustained Management Attention
    In U.S GAO News
    The Navy and Marine Corps continue to face significant readiness challenges that have developed over more than a decade of conflict, budget uncertainty, and reductions in force structure. These challenges prevent the services from reaping the full benefit of their existing forces and attaining the level of readiness called for by the 2018 National Defense Strategy. Both services have made encouraging progress identifying the causes of their readiness decline and have begun efforts to arrest and reverse it (see figure). However, GAO's work shows that addressing these challenges will require years of sustained management attention and resources. Recent events, such as the ongoing pandemic and the fire aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard affect both current and future readiness and are likely to compound and delay the services' readiness rebuilding efforts. Selected Navy and Marine Corps Readiness Challenges Continued progress implementing GAO's prior recommendations will bolster ongoing Navy and Marine Corps efforts to address these readiness challenges. The 2018 National Defense Strategy emphasizes that restoring and retaining readiness is critical to success in the emerging security environment. The Navy and Marine Corps are working to rebuild the readiness of their forces while also growing and modernizing their aging fleets of ships and aircraft. Readiness recovery will take years as the Navy and Marine Corps address their multiple challenges and continue to meet operational demands. This statement provides information on readiness challenges facing (1) the Navy ship and submarine fleet and (2) Navy and Marine Corps aviation. GAO also discusses its prior recommendations on Navy and Marine Corps readiness and the progress that has been made in addressing them. This statement is based on previous work published from 2016 to November 2020—on Navy and Marine Corps readiness challenges, including ship maintenance, sailor training, and aircraft sustainment. GAO also analyzed data updated as of November 2020, as appropriate, and drew from its ongoing work focused on Navy and Marine Corps readiness. GAO made more than 90 recommendations in prior work cited in this statement. The Department of Defense generally concurred with most of GAO's recommendations. Continued attention to these recommendations can assist the Navy and the Marine Corps as they seek to rebuild the readiness of their forces. For more information, contact Diana Maurer at (202) 512-9627 or maurerd@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Disarmament Law and Morality: A Critique
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Dr. Christopher Ashley [Read More…]
  • U.S. Marshals Operation Results in Recovery of 27 Missing Children in Virginia
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department [Read More…]
  • Executions Scheduled for Inmates Convicted of Brutal Murders Many Years Ago
    In Crime News
    Attorney General William P. Barr today directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to schedule the execution of three federal-death row inmates sentenced to death for staggeringly brutal murders, including the murder of a child and, with respect to two inmates, the murder of multiple victims.
    [Read More…]
  • Arrest of Eight Pan-Democratic Politicians in Hong Kong
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Man Pleads Guilty to Violating Endangered Species Act
    In Crime News
    A New York man pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to selling a mounted leopard, which is an endangered species.
    [Read More…]
  • Bermuda Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Commercial Space Transportation: FAA Should Examine a Range of Options to Support U.S. Launch Infrastructure
    In U.S GAO News
    Launch providers support the deployment of people and payloads, such as national security and commercial satellites or research probes, into space. The majority of these providers told GAO that U.S. space transportation infrastructure—located at sites across the country—is generally sufficient for them to meet their customers' current requirements. This situation is in part a result of the launch providers' investments in launch sites, along with state and local funding. Launch providers and site operators alike seek future improvements but differ on the type and location of infrastructure required. Some launch providers said that infrastructure improvements would be required to increase launch capacity at existing busy launch sites, while a few site operators said that new infrastructure and additional launch sites would help expand the nation's overall launch capacity. U.S. Commercial Launch Sites with Number of FAA-Licensed Launches, January 2015 - November 2020 The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was directed by statute to make recommendations to Congress on how to facilitate and promote greater investments in space transportation infrastructure, among other things. However, FAA's initial draft report was limited because it focused only on two existing FAA programs, rather than a range of options. FAA officials stated that they did not examine other options because of limited time and resources, and that the two identified programs could be implemented quickly because FAA has administrative authority to manage them. Leading practices in infrastructure investment emphasize the importance of conducting an examination of potential approaches, which can help identify how best to support national interests; avoid overlap or duplication of federal effort; and enhance, not substitute, participation by non-federal stakeholders. An examination may also help identify alternatives to making funding available, such as increasing efficiency and capacity through technology improvements. By focusing only on these existing programs, FAA may overlook other options that better meet federal policy goals and maximize the effect of any federal investment. Although FAA has already prepared its initial report to respond to the statute, it still has opportunities, such as during subsequent mandated updates, to report separately on potential approaches. Demand for commercial space launches is anticipated to increase in the coming years. FAA, the agency responsible for overseeing the sites where these launches occur, was directed by statute to submit a report—and update it every 2 years until December 2024—that makes recommendations on how to facilitate and promote greater investments in space transportation infrastructure. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 included a provision for GAO to review issues related to space transportation infrastructure. This report discusses launch providers' and site operators' views on the sufficiency of infrastructure in meeting market demand and assesses the steps FAA has taken to identify options for federal support of space transportation infrastructure, among other things. GAO reviewed relevant regulations; assessed FAA's actions against GAO-identified leading practices; and interviewed FAA officials, commercial launch providers, and representatives from U.S. commercial launch sites that GAO identified as having hosted an FAA-licensed launch since 2015 or having an FAA launch site operator license as of August 2020. GAO recommends that FAA examine a range of potential options to support space transportation infrastructure and that this examination include a discussion of trade-offs. DOT partially concurred, noting that it would provide its mandated report to Congress but not conduct a new examination of a range of options. GAO continues to believe that such an examination is warranted. For more information, contact Heather Krause at (202) 512-2834 or KrauseH@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • As Courts Restore Operations, COVID-19 Creates a New Normal
    In U.S Courts
    When coronavirus (COVID-19) cases spiked in March, court practices changed almost overnight, relying on virtual hearings that make it possible to conduct most court-related activities without coming to the building. Now, with courts seeking to restore in-person proceedings, one thing already is clear: Justice in a pandemic environment will have a very different look and feel.
    [Read More…]
  • American Contractor Sentenced for Theft of Government Equipment on U.S. Military Base in Afghanistan
    In Crime News
    An American military contractor was sentenced today to 51 months in prison for her role in a theft ring on a military installation in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    [Read More…]
  • Libya Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Do not travel to Libya [Read More…]
  • Saint Lucia Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Exercise increased [Read More…]
  • Justice Department and FTC Announce First Enforcement Actions for Violations of the Better Online Ticket Sales Act
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice, together with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), today announced three settlements resolving alleged violations of the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act. These are the first enforcement actions that the department and the FTC have brought under the BOTS Act.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Sues Monopolist Google For Violating Antitrust Laws
    In Crime News
    Today, the Department of Justice — along with eleven state Attorneys General — filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stop Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets and to remedy the competitive harms. The participating state Attorneys General offices represent Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas.
    [Read More…]
  • Enactment of Legal Peace Legislation to Restore Sudan’s Sovereign Immunities
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • United States and Japan Hold Bilateral Security Discussions
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Additional Civilian Assistance to Afghanistan
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Fifteen Members and Associates of Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra Indicted on Federal Racketeering Charges
    In Crime News
    A superseding indictment [Read More…]
  • Defendant Pleads Guilty In Multi-Million Dollar Prize Notification Scam Affecting Elderly Victims
    In Crime News
    A Las Vegas area resident charged with perpetrating a prize-notification scheme that bilked victims out of more than $10 million pleaded guilty today, the Department of Justice announced.
    [Read More…]
  • MS-13’s Highest-Ranking Leaders Charged with Terrorism Offenses in the United States
    In Crime News
    Earlier today, an indictment was unsealed in Central Islip, New York charging 14 of the world’s highest-ranking MS-13 leaders who are known today as the Ranfla Nacional, which operated as the Organization’s Board of Directors, and directed MS-13’s violence and criminal activity around the world for almost two decades.
    [Read More…]
  • Retirement Security: DOL Could Better Inform Divorcing Parties About Dividing Savings
    In U.S GAO News
    Although more than one-third of adults aged 50 or older have experienced divorce, few people seek and obtain a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), according to large plan sponsors GAO surveyed. A QDRO establishes the right of an alternate payee, such as a former spouse, to receive all or a portion of the benefits payable to a participant under a retirement plan upon separation or divorce. There are no nationally representative data on the number of QDROs, but plans and record keepers GAO interviewed and surveyed reported that few seek and obtain QDROs. For example, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation administered retirement benefits to about 1.6 million participants, and approved about 16,000 QDROs in the last 10 years. GAO's analysis of other survey data found about one-third of those who experienced a divorce from 2008 to 2016 and reported their former spouse had a retirement plan also reported losing a claim to that spouse's benefits. Many experts stated that some people—especially those with lower incomes—face challenges to successfully navigating the process for obtaining a QDRO, including complexity and cost. Individuals seeking a QDRO may be charged fees for preparation and review of draft orders before they are qualified as QDROs and, according to experts GAO interviewed, these fees vary widely. These experts cited concerns about QDRO review fees that they said in some cases were more than twice the amount of typical fees, and said they may discourage some from pursuing QDROs. Department of Labor (DOL) officials said the agency generally does not collect information on QDRO fees. Exploring ways to collect and analyze information from plans on fees could help DOL ensure costs are reasonable. Divorcing parties who pursue QDROs often had orders not qualified due to lacking basic information, according to plans and record keepers we surveyed (see figure). Plan Administrators and Record Keepers Reported Reasons for Not Qualifying a Domestic Relations Order (DRO) DOL provides some information to help divorcing parties pursue QDROs. However, many experts cited a lack of awareness about QDROs by the public and said DOL could do more to make resources available to divorcing parties. Without additional outreach by DOL, divorcing parties may spend unnecessary time and resources drafting orders that are not likely to be qualified, resulting in unnecessary expenditures of time and money. A domestic relations order (DRO) is a court-issued judgment, decree, or order that, when qualified by a retirement plan administrator, can divide certain retirement benefits in connection with separation or divorce and as such provide crucial financial security to a former spouse. DOL has authority to interpret QDRO requirements. GAO was asked to review the process for obtaining QDROs. This report examines what is known about (1) the number of QDRO recipients, (2) the fees and other expenses for processing QDROs, and (3) the reasons plans do not initially qualify DROs and the challenges experts identify regarding the QDRO process. To conduct this work, GAO analyzed available data, and a total of 14 responses from two surveys of large private sector plans and account record keepers, and interviewed 18 experts including practitioners who provide services to divorcing couples. GAO is recommending that DOL (1) explore ways to collect information on QDRO-related fees charged to participants or alternate payees, and (2) take steps to ensure information about the process for obtaining a QDRO is accessible. DOL generally agreed with our recommendations. For more information, contact Kris Nguyen at (202) 512-7215 or NguyenTT@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Four sentenced for roles in ransom scheme
    In Justice News
    Four U.S. citizens have [Read More…]
  • Owner of Tax Preparation Business Sentenced to Prison for Filing False Returns
    In Crime News
    A former Gulfport, Mississippi, tax return preparer was sentenced to 46 months in prison today for aiding and assisting in the preparation of false returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst for the Southern District of Mississippi.
    [Read More…]
  • Joint Statement: The United States and the United Kingdom are Working Together in the Fight Against Climate Change
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Kazakhstan Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Do not travel to [Read More…]
  • Apply for Preclearance Expansion
    In Travel
    Preclearance [Read More…]
  • Abusive Tax Schemes: Offshore Insurance Products and Associated Compliance Risks
    In U.S GAO News
    Federal law provides certain tax benefits for transactions involving genuine insurance products, including insurance products held offshore. While taxpayers may lawfully hold offshore insurance products, they contain features that make them vulnerable for use in abusive tax schemes. For example, offshore insurance products can be highly technical and individualized, making enforcement challenging, according to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials. Furthermore, insurance is not defined by federal statute, potentially making a determination of what constitutes genuine insurance for federal tax purposes unclear. Offshore micro-captive insurance products, which are made by small insurance companies owned by the businesses they insure, may be abused if the corporate taxpayer improperly claims deductions for payments made to a micro-captive for federal tax purposes. Courts have applied certain considerations to determine whether these deductions can be claimed. For example, one consideration is whether the insurance legitimately distributes risk across participating entities. IRS officials said they expend significant resources reviewing these schemes because of the varied ways insurance companies may work. Offshore variable life insurance products, which are insurance policies with investment components over which the insured has certain control, may be abused if the individual taxpayer fails to meet IRS reporting requirements or pay appropriate federal income taxes. Federal regulations require that taxpayers with certain foreign life insurance accounts report this information to IRS and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The structure of life insurance products may vary and taxpayers are required to pay taxes based on the underlying type of financial product the policy represents. The figure below shows how noncompliance may occur when taxpayers use life insurance and micro-captive insurance in abusive tax schemes. Abusive Use of Micro-captive and Life Insurance When structured in abusive ways, insurance products held offshore can be designed to aid in unlawful tax evasion by U.S. taxpayers. Two products that IRS has recently warned have the potential for such abuse include micro-captive insurance and variable life insurance policies. GAO was asked to review how taxpayers may abuse offshore insurance products. This report describes (1) how offshore insurance tax shelters provide opportunities for income tax abuse; (2) how offshore micro-captive insurance is used and how it is used in abusive tax schemes; and (3) how offshore variable life insurance is used and how it is used in abusive tax schemes. GAO reviewed IRS tax and information return forms, relevant U.S. case law and IRS guidance, academic and trade publications, and applicable statutes and regulations. GAO also interviewed IRS officials and professionals in the tax preparation and insurance industries. For more information, contact Jessica Lucas-Judy at (202) 512-9110 or LucasJudyJ@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad Travel to Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Norway, Pakistan, and Qatar
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Russia Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Do not travel to Russia [Read More…]
  • Aviation Security Technology: TSA Lacks Outcome-oriented Performance Measures and Data to Help Reach Objectives to Diversify its Marketplace
    In U.S GAO News
    The Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) January 2020 TSA Efforts to Diversify Security Technology (strategy) addresses the requirements of the 2018 TSA Modernization Act (the Act) and outlines 12 strategic initiatives to increase small business participation in its marketplace. Moreover, the strategy's initiatives are generally consistent with common practices cited by comparable federal agencies, including vendor outreach and linking small businesses together with bigger contractors. TSA has not developed outcome-oriented performance measures, such as baseline goals or target timeframes to assess the effectiveness of the initiatives in its strategy. While TSA collects some output metrics on its initiatives, leading practices note that outcome-based measures can help track progress in meeting goals. TSA also has not collected data on small businesses' progress across its acquisition phases, such as capturing the overall time, costs, and ability to meet security requirements. Federal standards call for the use of quality information to achieve objectives. Small businesses GAO met with told us they continue to face challenges entering TSA's marketplace—such as navigating it's testing and evaluation process and identifying security requirements—despite TSA's efforts to address them through ongoing and planned initiatives. Developing outcome-oriented performance measures and collecting data, will better position TSA to assess the effectiveness of its initiatives to diversify its security technology marketplace. Examples of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Security-Related Technologies With the ongoing threat of terrorism, TSA is looking to innovative technologies to improve security. In response to the Act, TSA developed a strategy to promote innovation and increase small business participation in its security technology marketplace. The Act includes a provision for GAO to review this strategy. This report examines, among other things, (1) the extent to which TSA's strategy includes the statutory requirements of the Act and compares to common practices of federal agencies to increase small business participation and (2) the extent to which TSA has performance measures and data to assess the effectiveness of its initiatives. GAO compared TSA's strategy to statutory requirements and practices of comparable federal agencies; interviewed TSA and federal officials from five selected agencies responsible for small and disadvantaged business programs, and a nongeneralizable set of small businesses selected to provide various perspectives on participating in TSA's acquisition processes; and analyzed data from the Federal Procurement Data System–Next Generation. GAO is making two recommendations, including that TSA (1) develop outcome-oriented performance measures and (2) collect data, where appropriate, on small businesses' progress across TSA's acquisition phases. DHS concurred with our recommendations. For more information, contact Triana McNeil at (202) 512-8777 or McNeilT@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Chinese National Pleads Guilty to Illegal Exports to Northwestern Polytechnical University
    In Crime News
    A Chinese national pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston in connection with illegally procuring and causing the illegal export of $100,000 worth of U.S. origin goods to Northwestern Polytechnical University (NWPU), a Chinese military university that is heavily involved in military research and works closely with the People’s Liberation Army on the advancement of its military capabilities.
    [Read More…]
  • Former Army Green Beret Pleads Guilty to Russian Espionage Conspiracy
    In Crime News
     A former Army Green Beret pleaded guilty today to conspiring with Russian intelligence operatives to provide them with United States national defense information.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Pompeo’s Call with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg 
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Remarks at the 7th Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue
    In Climate - Environment - Conservation
    John Kerry, Special [Read More…]