Secretary Michael R. Pompeo and Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi

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.

(In Hebrew.)

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.

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However, while ICIG, NRO OIG, and NSA OIG have basic training requirements and tools to manage training, those OIGs have not established training requirements for their investigators that are linked to the requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities, appropriate to their career progression, and part of a documented training plan. Doing so would help the ICIG, NRO OIG, and NSA OIG ensure that their investigators collectively possess a consistent set of professional proficiencies aligned with CIGIE's quality standards throughout their entire career progression. Most of the IC-element OIGs GAO reviewed consistently met congressional reporting requirements for the investigations and semiannual reports GAO reviewed. The ICIG did not fully meet one reporting requirement in seven of the eight semiannual reports that GAO reviewed. However, its most recent report, which covers April through September 2019, met this reporting requirement by including statistics on the total number and type of investigations it conducted. Further, three of the six selected IC-element OIGs—the DIA, NGA, and NRO OIGs—did not consistently document notifications to complainants in the reprisal investigation case files GAO reviewed. Taking steps to ensure that notifications to complainants in such cases occur and are documented in the case files would provide these OIGs with greater assurance that they consistently inform complainants of the status of their investigations and their rights as whistleblowers. Whistleblowers play an important role in safeguarding the federal government against waste, fraud, and abuse. The OIGs across the government oversee investigations of whistleblower complaints, which can include protecting whistleblowers from reprisal. Whistleblowers in the IC face unique challenges due to the sensitive and classified nature of their work. GAO was asked to review whistleblower protection programs managed by selected IC-element OIGs. This report examines (1) the number and time frames of investigations into complaints that selected IC-element OIGs received in fiscal years 2017 and 2018, and the extent to which selected IC-element OIGs have established timeliness objectives for these investigations; (2) the extent to which selected IC-element OIGs have implemented quality standards and processes for their investigation programs; (3) the extent to which selected IC-element OIGs have established training requirements for investigators; and (4) the extent to which selected IC-element OIGs have met notification and reporting requirements for investigative activities. This is a public version of a sensitive report that GAO issued in June 2020. Information that the IC elements deemed sensitive has been omitted. GAO selected the ICIG and the OIGs of five of the largest IC elements for review. GAO analyzed time frames for all closed investigations of complaints received in fiscal years 2017 and 2018; reviewed OIG policies, procedures, training requirements, and semiannual reports to Congress; conducted interviews with 39 OIG investigators; and reviewed a selection of case files for senior leaders and reprisal cases from October 1, 2016, through March 31, 2018. GAO is making 23 recommendations, including that selected IC-element OIGs establish timeliness objectives for investigations, implement or enhance quality assurance programs, establish training plans, and take steps to ensure that notifications to complainants in reprisal cases occur. The selected IC-element OIGs concurred with the recommendations and discussed steps they planned to take to implement them. For more information, contact Brenda S. Farrell at (202) 512-3604, farrellb@gao.gov or Brian M. 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