Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
Mount Bental, Golan Heights
FOREIGN MINISTER ASHKENAZI: Secretary, I’ll just state, a great friend of Israel. (Inaudible) Pompeo and the Ambassador. We just had a great visit and I think briefing about the Golan Heights. I would like to take the opportunity to thank both the President Trump and the Secretary for their long support for the security and the fate of the State of Israel. Secretary made an historic visit to the Golan Heights, I think first ever to here.
He – as a former head of the CIA, he knows – he knows the facts, but he insisted to come to see firsthand and to hear the briefing from the military commanders and to hear from our legendary hero, Kahalani, what happened. In his background, he was an officer, armored officer, so he knew the story, but – and I think there is no need to explain when you stand here what’s the strategic importance of the Golan Heights. So thank you for recognizing the sovereignty of the State of Israel. Thank you for coming, and really appreciate it.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Minister. Secretary of State.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you. Thirty-five years ago as a young cadet, I studied about this very place – this amazing and important piece of real estate. You can’t stand here and stare out at what’s across the border and deny the central thing that President Trump recognized that previous presidents had refused to do. But this is a part of Israel and a central part of Israel.
I remember too not long after I was a cadet, I was an officer in the United States Army. And I remember the international pressure to return this very place to Syria. It was all the rage in the salons in Europe and in the elite institutions in America to say that this should be returned to Syria. Imagine, imagine with Assad in control of this place, the risk, the harm to the West and to Israel and to the people of Israel. President Trump just recognized the basic fact that this indeed is part of Israel. And it was an honor to be there. It was an honor to be here with General Kahalani and to hear the story – the famous battle of the Valley of Tears fought here where as a younger officer he saved this great nation. So it’s great to be here with you.
I told the Prime Minister that I very much wanted to come here on this trip to tell the world that we have it right. That we, the United States, has it right and that Israel has it right. And that each nation has the right to defend itself and its own sovereignty. And that the United States of America and the Trump Administration will continue to do all that we can to make sure that Israel has what it needs to do just that. And we will honor your right to defend your own people. So thank you very much Mr. Foreign Minister for being with me, and thank you all for joining us out here today. Thanks.
FOREIGN MINISTER ASHKENAZI: Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you, excellencies. Thank you all.
- Child Care: Subsidy Eligibility and Receipt, and Wait ListsBy Sam NewsFebruary 18, 2021An estimated 1.9 million children received child care subsidies in fiscal year 2017, representing approximately 14 percent of all children estimated to be eligible under federal rules – and 22 percent of all children estimated to be eligible under state rules -- in an average month. These figures are from the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) analysis of fiscal year 2017 data, the most recent year for which such analysis is available. Generally, fewer families qualify for subsidies under state eligibility rules than under federal eligibility rules since most states use flexibility provided by HHS to set their income eligibility limits below the federal maximum. Health and Human Services’ Estimated Number of Children Eligible Under Federal and State Rules, and Estimated Number Receiving Child Care Subsidies, Fiscal Year 2017 GAO found that the extent to which children who meet federal child care eligibility requirements also meet state eligibility requirements varies by state as does the share of eligible children who receive Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) subsidies. Under state requirements, the CCDF subsidy receipt rate ranged from 5 percent to 32 percent of eligible children. Under federal requirements, the CCDF subsidy receipt rate ranged from 4 percent to 18 percent of federally eligible children. According to HHS estimates, among families who met federal child care eligibility criteria, children from lower-income families were more likely to receive child care subsidies compared to children from higher-income families. These estimates also showed that preschool-age children were more likely to receive subsidies compared to older, school-age children and that Black children were more likely to receive subsidies compared to children of other races / ethnicities. As reported in previous GAO work, states have varied strategies for managing their wait lists. Some states have a single statewide list while others have sub-state lists that allow sub-state areas to have their own policies. Some states conduct full or partial eligibility determinations prior to placing families on wait lists, and many states require periodic reviews of their wait lists. According to state administrators GAO interviewed, the strategies that states use to manage their wait lists pose certain challenges. For example, state administrators told GAO that sub-state lists can contain duplication, making state-wide estimates of families in need difficult. And administrators told GAO that maintaining up-to-date contact information is challenging, in part due to insufficient technology. The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted child care in several ways, including cost, eligibility and subsidy receipt, according to some members of the National Association of State Child Care Administrators (NASCCA). These members told GAO that despite initial declines in the number of families receiving subsidies, some states are seeing their child care costs increase due to, for example, more school-age children using full-day care; increased expenses for additional health and safety measures; paying for more absences and for parent co-pays; and families applying for subsidies for relative care. NASCCA members noted that some states have made changes to policies to help families and providers. To help families access child care, some states have increased income eligibility for subsidies to 85 percent of the state median income; temporarily waived work requirements to receive subsidies; and covered family fees for parents when a family must quarantine due to a COVID-19 exposure. Changes to some state policies aimed at helping providers include providing funds to providers to help with increased costs, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and additional cleaning supplies; paying providers based on their pre-COVID-19 level authorized enrollments; and raising the state's provider reimbursement rate to help providers cover overhead costs. The federal child care subsidy program known as CCDF is one of the primary sources of federal funding dedicated to assisting low-income families with child care who are working or participating in education and training. Funding for CCDF, which is administered by HHS at the federal level, comes from two funding streams: discretionary funding in the form of block grants authorized by the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG Act) of 1990, as amended, and mandatory and matching funding authorized under section 418 of the Social Security Act. CCDF was appropriated more than $8 billion in federal funds in 2019. For more information, contact Kathryn Larin at (202) 512-7215 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Man Sentenced to 55 Months in Prison for Violating Sanctions Against Senior Venezuelan LeadersBy Sam NewsMarch 17, 2021More from: March 17, 2021 [Read More…]
- VA Health Care: Budget Formulation and Reporting on Budget Execution Need ImprovementBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates it will serve 5.4 million patients in fiscal year 2006. Medical services for these patients are funded with appropriations, after consideration by Congress of the President's budget request. VA formulates the medical programs portion of that request. VA is also responsible for budget execution--using appropriations and monitoring their use for providing care. For fiscal years 2005 and 2006, the President requested additional funding for VA medical programs, beyond what had been originally requested. GAO was asked to examine for fiscal years 2005 and 2006 (1) how the President's budget requests for VA medical programs were formulated, (2) how VA monitored and reported to Congress on its budget execution, and (3) which key factors in the budget formulation process contributed to requests for additional funding. To do this, GAO analyzed budget documents and interviewed VA and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) officials.The formulation of the President's budget requests for VA medical programs for fiscal years 2005 and 2006 was informed by VA's comparison of its cost estimate of projected demand for medical services to its anticipated resources. VA projected about 86 percent of its costs using an actuarial model that estimated veterans' demand for health care. To project the costs of long-term care (about 10 percent of the funds for VA medical programs in each of these years) and the remaining medical care costs (about 4 percent), separate estimation approaches were used that did not rely upon an actuarial model but used other methods instead. The agency anticipated resources based on prior year appropriations, guidance from OMB, and other factors. For both fiscal years, VA officials told GAO that projected costs--calculated from the actuarial model and other approaches--exceeded anticipated resources and that they addressed the difference in budget requests for those years with cost-saving policy proposals and management efficiencies. Although VA staff closely monitored budget execution and identified problems for fiscal years 2005 and 2006, VA did not report this information to Congress in a sufficiently informative manner. VA closely monitored the fiscal year 2005 budget as early as October 2004, anticipating challenges managing within its resources. However, Congress did not learn of these challenges until April 2005. VA initially planned to manage within its budget for fiscal year 2005 by delaying some spending on equipment and nonrecurring maintenance and drawing on funds it had planned to carry over into 2006. Instead, the President requested additional funds from Congress for both fiscal years 2005 (a $975 million supplemental appropriation in June 2005) and 2006 (a budget amendment of $1.977 billion in July 2005). Congress included in the 2006 appropriations act a requirement for VA to submit quarterly reports regarding the medical programs budget status during this fiscal year. These reports have not included some of the measures that would be useful for congressional oversight, such as patient workload measures to capture costs and the time required for new patients to be scheduled for their first primary care appointment. Unrealistic assumptions, errors in estimation, and insufficient data were key factors in VA's budget formulation process that contributed to the requests for additional funding for fiscal years 2005 and 2006. Unrealistic assumptions about how quickly cost savings could be realized from proposed nursing home policy changes contributed to the additional requests, as did computation errors measuring the estimated effect of one of these changes. Insufficient data in VA's initial budget projections also contributed to the additional funding requests. For example, VA underestimated the cost of serving veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, in part because estimates for fiscal year 2005 were based on data that largely predated the Iraq conflict and because according to VA, the agency had challenges for fiscal year 2006 in obtaining data from the Department of Defense.[Read More…]
- Afghanistan: Actions Needed to Improve Accountability of U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan GovernmentBy Sam NewsAugust 23, 2021The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Defense (DOD) award direct assistance to Afghanistan, using bilateral agreements and multilateral trust funds that provide funds through the Afghan national budget. GAO assessed (1) the extent to which the United States, through USAID and DOD, has increased direct assistance, (2) USAID and DOD steps to ensure accountability for bilateral direct assistance, and (3) USAID and DOD steps to ensure accountability for direct assistance via multilateral trust funds for Afghanistan. GAO reviewed USAID, DOD, and multilateral documents and met with U.S. officials and staffs of multilateral trust funds in Washington, D.C., and Afghanistan.The United States more than tripled its awards of direct assistance to Afghanistan in fiscal year 2010 compared with fiscal year 2009. USAID awards of direct assistance grew from over $470 million in fiscal year 2009 to over $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2010. USAID awarded $1.3 billion to the World Bank-administered Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) in fiscal year 2010, of which the bank has received $265 million as of July 2011. DOD direct assistance to two ministries grew from about $195 million in fiscal year 2009 to about $576 million in fiscal year 2010, including contributions to fund police salaries through the United Nations Development Program-administered (UNDP) Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA). USAID and DOD have taken steps to help ensure the accountability of their bilateral direct assistance to Afghan ministries, but USAID has not required risk assessments in all cases before awarding these funds. For example, USAID did not complete preaward risk assessments in two of the eight cases GAO identified. Although current USAID policy does not require preaward risk assessments in all cases, these two awards were made after the USAID Administrator's July 2010 commitment to Congress that USAID would not proceed with direct assistance to an Afghan public institution before assessing its capabilities. In these two cases, USAID awarded $46 million to institutions whose financial management capacity were later assessed as "high risk." USAID has established various financial and other controls in its bilateral direct assistance agreements, such as requiring separate bank accounts and audits of the funds. USAID has generally complied with these controls, but GAO identified instances in which it did not. For example, in only 3 of 19 cases did USAID document that it had approved one ministry's prefinancing contract documents. DOD personnel in Afghanistan assess the risk of providing funds to two security ministries through quarterly reviews of each ministry's capacity. DOD officials also review records of ministry expenditures to assess whether ministries have used funds as intended. DOD established formal risk assessment procedures in June 2011, following GAO discussions with DOD about initial findings. USAID and DOD generally rely on the World Bank and UNDP to ensure accountability over U.S. direct assistance provided multilaterally through ARTF and LOTFA, but USAID has not consistently complied with its risk assessment policies in awarding funds to ARTF. During GAO's review, DOD established procedures in June 2011 requiring that it assess risks before contributing funds to LOTFA. The World Bank and UNDP use ARTF and LOTFA monitoring agents to help ensure that ministries use contributions as intended. However, security conditions and weaknesses in Afghan ministries pose challenges to their oversight. For example, the ARTF monitoring agent recently resigned due to security concerns. The World Bank is now seeking a new monitoring agent and does not anticipate a gap in monitoring. In addition, weaknesses in the Ministry of Interior's systems for paying wages to police challenge UNDP efforts to ensure that the ministry is using LOTFA funds as intended. GAO recommends that USAID (1) establish and implement policy requiring risk assessments in all cases before awarding bilateral direct assistance funds, (2) take additional steps to help ensure it implements controls for bilateral direct assistance, and (3) ensure adherence to its risk assessment policies for ARTF. In commenting on the first recommendation, USAID stated that its existing policies call for some form of risk assessment for all awards and that it has taken new steps to ensure risk assessment. GAO retained its recommendation because existing USAID policies do not require preaward risk assessments in all cases. USAID concurred with GAO's other recommendations.[Read More…]
- Report to Congress: Human Trafficking in the Seafood Supply ChainBy Sam NewsDecember 23, 2020
- Former Air Force Contractor Pleads Guilty to Illegally Taking 2,500 Pages of Classified InformationBy Sam NewsFebruary 25, 2021A former contractor with the U.S. Air Force pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio today to illegally taking approximately 2,500 pages of classified documents.[Read More…]
- Sweden Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsIn TravelSeptember 26, 2020Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
- Critical Infrastructure Protection: TSA Is Taking Steps to Address Some Pipeline Security Program WeaknessesBy Sam NewsJuly 27, 2021What GAO Found Protecting the nation's pipeline systems from security threats is a responsibility shared by both the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and private industry stakeholders. Prior to issuing a cybersecurity directive in May 2021, TSA's efforts included issuing voluntary security guidelines and security reviews of privately owned and operated pipelines. GAO reports in 2018 and 2019 identified some weaknesses in the agency's oversight and guidance, and made 15 recommendations to address these weaknesses. TSA concurred with GAO's recommendations and has addressed most of them, such as clarifying portions of its Pipeline Security Guidelines improving its monitoring of security review performance, and assessing staffing needs. As of June 2021, TSA had not fully addressed two pipeline cybersecurity-related weaknesses that GAO previously identified. These weaknesses correspond to three of the 15 recommendations from GAO's 2018 and 2019 reports. Incomplete information for pipeline risk assessments. GAO identified factors that likely limit the usefulness of TSA's risk assessment methodology for prioritizing pipeline security reviews. For example, TSA's risk assessment did not include information consistent with critical infrastructure risk mitigation, such as information on natural hazards and cybersecurity risks. GAO recommended that TSA develop data sources relevant to pipeline threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences of disruptions. As of June 2021, TSA had not fully addressed this recommendation. Aged protocols for responding to pipeline security incidents. GAO reported in June 2019 that TSA had not revised its 2010 Pipeline Security and Incident Recovery Protocol Plan to reflect changes in pipeline security threats, including those related to cybersecurity. GAO recommended that TSA periodically review, and update its 2010 plan. TSA has begun taking action in response to this recommendation, but has not fully addressed it, as of June 2021. TSA's May 2021 cybersecurity directive requires that certain pipeline owner/operators assess whether their current operations are consistent with TSA's Guidelines on cybersecurity, identify any gaps and remediation measures, and report the results to TSA and others. TSA's July 2021 cybersecurity directive mandates that certain pipeline owner/operators implement cybersecurity mitigation measures; develop a Cybersecurity Contingency Response Plan in the event of an incident; and undergo an annual cybersecurity architecture design review, among other things. These recent security directives are important requirements for pipeline owner/operators because TSA's Guidelines do not include key mitigation strategies for owner/operators to reference when reviewing their cyber assets. TSA officials told GAO that a timely update to address current cyber threats is appropriate and that they anticipate updating the Guidelines over the next year. Why GAO Did This Study The nation's pipelines are vulnerable to cyber-based attacks due to increased reliance on computerized systems. In May 2021 malicious cyber actors deployed ransomware against Colonial Pipeline's business systems. The company subsequently disconnected certain systems that monitor and control physical pipeline functions so that they would not be compromised. This statement discusses TSA's actions to address previous GAO findings related to weaknesses in its pipeline security program and TSA's guidance to pipeline owner/operators. It is based on prior GAO products issued in December 2018, June 2019, and March 2021, along with updates on actions TSA has taken to address GAO's recommendations as of June 2021. To conduct the prior work, GAO analyzed TSA documents; interviewed TSA officials, industry association representatives, and a sample of pipeline operators selected based on type of commodity transported and other factors; and observed TSA security reviews. GAO also reviewed TSA's May and July 2021 Pipeline Security Directives, TSA's Pipeline Security Guidelines, and three federal security alerts issued in July 2020, May 2021, and June 2021.[Read More…]
- Attorney General Merrick B. Garland’s Statement on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness DayBy Sam NewsMay 5, 2021Attorney General Merrick B. Garland issued the following statement:[Read More…]
- Justice Department Issues Proposed Rule and Model Legislation to Reduce Gun ViolenceBy Sam NewsJune 7, 2021Today, the Department of Justice announced two new steps to help address the continuing epidemic of gun violence affecting communities across the country. First, the department issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that makes clear that when individuals use accessories to convert pistols into short-barreled rifles, they must comply with the heightened regulations on those dangerous and easily concealable weapons. Second, the department published model legislation to help states craft their own “extreme risk protection order” laws, sometimes called “red flag” laws. By sending the proposed rule to the Federal Register and publishing the model legislation today, the department has met the deadlines that the Attorney General announced alongside President Biden in April.[Read More…]
- Department of Justice Seizes $2.3 Million in Cryptocurrency Paid to the Ransomware Extortionists DarksideBy Sam NewsJune 7, 2021The Department of Justice today announced that it has seized 63.7 bitcoins currently valued at over $2.3 million.[Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy AhmedBy Sam NewsApril 26, 2021
- Florida Man Sentenced After Fraudulently Obtaining $3.9 Million in PPP LoansBy Sam NewsMay 12, 2021A Florida man was sentenced today to more than six years in prison for fraudulently obtaining approximately $3.9 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and using those funds, in part, to purchase a $318,000 Lamborghini luxury car for himself.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Announces the Opening of Nominations for the Fifth Annual Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Community PolicingBy Sam NewsApril 30, 2021U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland today announced the Department of Justice is now accepting nominations for the Fifth Annual Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Community Policing. These awards represent part of the Department of Justice’s on-going commitment to support the nation’s law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe.[Read More…]
- Massachusetts Man Convicted of Placing Firebomb at Entrance of Jewish Nursing HomeBy Sam NewsJune 16, 2021A Massachusetts man was convicted by a federal jury yesterday in connection with placing a lit firebomb at the entrance of a Longmeadow senior health care facility in April 2020.[Read More…]
- United States’ Actions To Press for the Resolution of the Crisis in the Tigray Region of EthiopiaBy Sam NewsMay 25, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Press AvailabilityBy Sam NewsMay 27, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- Two Indicted for $2 Million Scheme that Defrauded Over 20 InvestorsBy Sam NewsMay 12, 2021An indictment charging a District of Columbia man and Connecticut woman with perpetrating an advance fee and investment fraud scheme that defrauded more than 20 victims of more than $2 million was unsealed today in the District of Columbia.[Read More…]
- Newly Reprocessed Images of Europa Show ‘Chaos Terrain’ in Crisp DetailBy Sam NewsIn SpaceSeptember 26, 2020Work is ongoing to [Read More…]
- United States Joins Intergovernmental Forum on MiningBy Sam NewsJune 7, 2021