Secretary Michael R. Pompeo at the IISS Manama Dialogue

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you so much. Thanks, John, and thanks for that introduction and the thoughtful words at the beginning of your remarks. And I do remember our dinner back when my life was a little less busy, and sadly, the set of issues that we were discussing that night – the challenge of Iran’s nuclear program – still remains in front of us.

I want to say greetings to His Majesty King Hamad, the Government of Bahrain, the IISS Manama Dialogue participants, esteemed ministers, and everybody joining all around the world both online and in person. Thanks for giving me this opportunity.

It is truly an honor to open the 16th Manama Dialogue – my first time speaking to this distinguished audience.

This forum’s ongoing success speaks enormous volumes about your institute’s reach and the powerful role that Bahrain plays in advancing peace and prosperity around the world. And I’ll come back to that topic.

Look, just this week, our two countries launched an important and comprehensive Strategic Dialogue. I was happy to chair that.

Today, John asked me to talk about a number of things, including the Trump administration’s approach to foreign policy more broadly, our achievements with our partners in the Middle East, which I believe are truly historic, and a few lessons learned perhaps as well.

And after that, we’ll have a good conversation, a robust Q&A.

I want to spend my opening moments by briefly laying out some bedrock principles that have guided the work of our administration.

I delivered a speech last year titled “A Foreign Policy From the Founding.” And that has a particular meaning in the United States, but it ought to have meaning to all of us today. I explained how this administration has anchored our efforts in the tradition of America, our first principles.

It was James Madison who wrote in Federalist 41 that “ is an avowed and essential object of Union,” of the American Union. Our founders understood that our government’s primary duty is to put America’s security first. We believe that’s true for every sovereign nation.

They also favored – our founders – a prudent and restrained foreign policy. They knew that in spite of the fact that our country was powerful, our resources weren’t infinite. But even when our nation was young, they also knew the true value of American leadership abroad and what we could accomplish for our people and for the world. And the Trump administration has tried to get that balance just right.

Look, our signature successes in the Middle East demonstrate what happens when we get it right.

Four years ago almost exactly, this administration saw that the true cause of conflict in the Middle East wasn’t the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but ISIS and the leadership in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.

We started our approach to the Middle East by leading the fight against ISIS. We had 82 partners, eliminating the caliphate in relatively short order.

This was a remarkable multilateral victory. It deserves more attention, in my judgment. We did this well, we did this right, and the world remains safer today as a result of that enormously good collective effort.

On Iran, we simply saw the regime for what it is: an anti-Western, anti-Semitic government that terrorizes its neighbors and its own people – period, full stop.

We learned the lessons from the prior administration’s appeasement. Sending pallets of cash didn’t change Iran’s behavior; rather, it funded and supercharged their terror campaigns.

We understood that a democratic Israel should be a partner, not a problem, for countries in the region.

And so we flipped the switch. We took a different approach. We rejected appeasement and put security and deterrence, not dialogue for dialogue’s sake, at the very front – a very realistic approach.

So what have we achieved at this point?

We got out of the JCPOA, which traded cash and immunity for Tehran’s malign behavior in exchange for unverifiable nuclear pledges that put us all at risk.

And with the help of our Gulf allies, our maximum pressure campaign isolated Iran diplomatically, militarily, and economically.

We’ve now leveled 77 rounds of sanctions targeting close to 1,500 individuals and entities. We have deprived the regime, according to their own words, of some $70 billion for terror.

Proxies like Hizballah and Hamas are now in deep austerity mode.

We’re standing with Iraqi prime minister, my friend Khadimi, in his push against the Iranian-backed militias, and with the people of Lebanon as they reject Hizballah’s corrupt rule.

In fact, we have seen multiple countries designate Hizballah as a terrorist organization and refuse landing rights to Mahan Air – Iran’s terror airline.

Look, we also took the regime’s chief terrorist, Qasem Soleimani, off the battlefield. It showed what a real red line looks like.

And we know too, we know our campaign is working because now the Iranians are desperately signaling their willingness to return to the negotiating table to get sanctions relief.

This effort in the Middle East isn’t just about countering Iran – as vital as that is.

American strength and resolve have given the leaders in the region the space and, importantly, the confidence to pursue peace and prosperity.

The signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House in September wouldn’t have been possible without the maximum pressure campaign and our active diplomacy with strong partners in the region.

We’re not done. We continue to build on that progress. Goods and people are now crisscrossing the region along entirely new routes.

It was an honor to be in Israel and greet my friend, Bahraini foreign minister, a few weeks ago. He and I together convened the first trilateral meeting of our governments, and I am confident that more countries will make the right decisions. They’ll do so because it’s the right decision for their people.

They (inaudible) follow the UAE and Bahrain and Sudan’s courageous examples in turning the “Three Nos” of the Khartoum Declaration in 1973 into the “Three Yeses” of the Abraham Accords. They will do so because it’s right for their people.

Four years ago, John, a lot of influential people in the world would have said that even hoping for these achievements was pure fantasy. But we’ve shown that the real fantasy was the bankrupt conventional wisdom that said there couldn’t be progress until the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians was solved. We could see it was nonsense, and we acted on the fact that we knew that reality would bring peace and prosperity. Our new approach continues to bring the possibility of a better future for all of the peoples in the Middle East, including the Palestinians.

And indeed, that’s the bar against which all future actions should be measured, not the failures of outdated policies – you talked about this, not the failures of outdated policies based on flawed assumptions, but based on the reality of our times.

This is the same fact, the same truth, of our policy towards the Chinese Communist Party. And while I won’t go into detail here, I hope to in – we have time together to talk. But for decades, the world had hoped that economic integration would lead to political liberalization – the China fantasy.

It didn’t happen. The Chinese Communist Party never wanted to behave like a normal regime, because at its core it’s not one. Like Iran, the party is a revolutionary relic. That’s why they work together so much.

So, again, we stepped back. We looked at reality. We remembered first principles and reorganized our policy around a security framework and simple common sense. The good news is we’re rallying other nations to our side, because this isn’t about America vs. China. It’s about freedom vs. tyranny. We all have a stake – including where you sit, in the Middle East. This is important to get right.

I want to close with one final thought on the Middle East that shows the good that happens when we get this balanced perfectly. As you said, I returned home from a trip to Israel and the Gulf just a couple weeks ago now. I was optimistic because of what we have managed to accomplish together. I was encouraged by the level of renewed hope I witnessed – especially among the younger generation. That’s as it should be, given the success of the Abraham Accords.

But there was another noteworthy agreement: an MOU that we signed with Bahrain in October. We agreed to combat “all forms of anti-Semitism, including anti-Zionism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel.”

This was the first time, the first time our Arab partners formally joined in this effort. It’s one way that the Abraham Accords are more than just a peace on paper or between palaces, but among people, people of the Book who share warmth and respect. The descendants of Ishmael are standing with the descendants of Isaac.

As an American, I am proud of that accomplishment. My country was founded on religious freedom and respect for unalienable rights, and those are ideals that we all should uphold. And we know this: When America stands confidently for our founding values – certain that they are exceptional, good, and true – our friends benefit enormously as well.

So let’s keep at it. Let’s not return to the fantasies, the fictions that emboldened our enemies, weakened our friends, and undermined our collective security. Let’s keep pressing Iran, standing with our allies, and building on our gains.

The last 48 months have proven that a foreign policy grounded on reality and our proudest traditions actually works for the benefit of all of us.

Thanks for having me.

May God bless you. And I look forward to our conversation. (Applause.)

MR CHIPMAN: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much, indeed. And I hope you can hear a round of applause in the room. We look forward to the conversation just now.

One little housekeeping point for the many people we have here gathered in Bahrain in this room and the neighboring room. If you want to seek the floor, and I hope a number will, just press your microphone. Your microphone will turn green. That doesn’t mean it’s on. It just means that you’re on my list. And I’ll call on you, and then your microphone will turn red, and then you’ll be able to speak and pose your question. And I’ve got three or four people already, but let me please perhaps take the clichéd privilege of the chair and ask Secretary Pompeo the first question.

You spoke a great deal about the challenges posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. And last year, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, we produced a major 180-page dossier that analyzed all of the various groups with which Iran engages in the Middle East – dozens and dozens of different groups that are part of Iran’s influence networks.

And our judgment at the time, and the conclusion of the report, is that the Islamic Republic of Iran considers their influence networks in the Middle East as their most important strategic asset, possibly even more important than their nuclear program or their ballistic missile program. And the reason they consider their influence networks as their most important strategic asset is that it is those networks day in, week out, month by month, that actually change the effective balance of power in the Middle East.

And the implicit conclusion of that is that if it is their most prized strategic asset, it won’t be a strategic asset that will be easily negotiated away or easily sanctioned away. Might have to be fought. So if you agree with that analysis, what is the strategy to deal with Iran’s influence networks in the Middle East?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So I think their security framework, the leadership’s security framework, actually depends on all three of the things you described – their capacity to continue the capabilities, their nuclear capabilities; their capacity to project those weapon systems and threaten the Middle East with short-range and medium-range ballistic missiles and to continue to refine that program; and then you described it, their capacity to have influence operations, including not only militarily – that is, their military proxy forces – but their capacity to have influence through other means as well, political means as well.

So yes, we have to attack all three of those. This was one of the central shortcomings of the JCPOA. It got some verification. It got them to stop turning some centrifuges for a little while, but it underwrote this network of activity that you described, the very influence and proxies that you described.

The regime’s behavior must change. In May of 2018, I laid out 12 simple points, and I’ve seen in the international world I’ve been ridiculed just a bit for that and just a touch here at home too. I challenge anyone in the audience today to go back and read those 12 points and tell me which one of those you would find satisfactory if Norway or Sweden engaged in that behavior. All we’re asking is for the regime in Iran to behave like a normal nation, and that includes, John, to your point – it includes ceasing this malign activity that takes place through their external influence operations as well.

I couldn’t tell you if they’ll cede that voluntarily. We’ve seen in life before that things that one thought couldn’t be negotiated can when the stakes are right and the costs are sufficient. But in the event that they choose not to do that, in the event that they come to the table and are only willing to talk about turning off a few centrifuges for a few months or a few years, the world should find that unsatisfactory. The Middle East countries I assure you will find that unsatisfactory, whether it’s Iraq, whether it’s Israel, or whether the Gulf states. I would tell you that the good people of Syria who are now living in Turkey or in Lebanon who were forced to flee because the previous administration’s policies appeased the Syrian regime could tell you that appeasement of Iran will fail the people of their country as well.

We have an obligation, a collective obligation to ensure that we get this right. We ought not cut short a negotiation. We ought not reduce the driver that creates the need for the Iranians to negotiate and be satisfied with the simple idea that we’ll get some verification and the capacity for us to stare at some centrifuges and verify every day that they’re turned off for just a little while. Look, we’ve seen what happens. The moment they want to turn them back on, they can do it. Doesn’t take very long to spin up a centrifuge, and we see that. Today they’re at 3.67. They passed a law in the last 48 hours saying they were going to go to 20 percent enrichment.

This tells you that the failure of that agreement was centrally understood by the fact that they can continue to enrich inside of the country, and as long as they have that capacity, they hold the world hostage. We can’t permit that to happen. Our administration was clear about this. I hope the entire world will remain clear about the need to truly push back against the broad threat that the regime in Iran poses today, not only from its nuclear program and missile program, but as you spoke about, the other tools that they use to influence and to undermine other nations.

MR CHIPMAN: Superb. So we now have, as you can imagine, lots of questions from the floor and also coming in internationally. What I propose, Mr. Secretary, is I take three questions here very crisply and then you can answer those as a group. Could I first ask Giselle Khoury? Your microphone is on.

QUESTION: Yes, thank you. Good evening, Mr. Pompeo. I want to ask you about your outgoing administration is – why your administration does keep achieving the reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar?

MR CHIPMAN: Good, thank you very much for that. There’s a lot of questions actually coming in internationally on the Saudi-Qatar relationship, so that’s one to park and to come back to. And now I’d like to call on General Amos Yadlin from Israel, who’s with us here in Bahrain, partly as a consequence of the new diplomatic relations. Amos, your microphone is on.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your speech, and even thank you more for the foreign policy you have led that brought finally a peace to the Middle East after 25 years that we didn’t pay attention to the fact that peace is not here. And this is a different peace, a warm peace.

I want to ask about the maximum pressure. How you assess your achievement in the maximum pressure? Since unfortunately we see the Iranians closer to the threshold with more enriched uranium and more centrifuges, and just today they announced that they will have another two centrifuges in the tunnel under the mountain in Fordow. What can you do in the 50 days that left to your administration and what is your recommendation for the next administration? Thank you.

MR CHIPMAN: Thank you, and also here in Bahrain, John Raine.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your comments. I noted the connection that you made between your foreign security policy and the Founding. There’s another founding with which, of course, the U.S. is intimately connected, which is the founding of the post-World-War-II international order. You gave a very good example of successful collective action in the coalition which the U.S. led against Daesh. I just wanted to ask you, as you look to leaving office, what would you advise constitutes the elements of good collective security and multilateralism, with particular reference to this region?

MR CHIPMAN: And the fourth question, before we go back to the Secretary, I’ll read out because it’s from the editor of The National in the UAE, Mina al-Oraibi: “Mr. Secretary, does the drawdown of troops and diplomats in Baghdad not undercut the Iraqi Government and Mr. Khadhimi, who need U.S. support at this time? Won’t Iran be emboldened by this U.S. decision?”

So those are four questions for you, Mr. Secretary. Over to you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll try to do them, and at least two or three of them are actually connected, so great that they were presented in a group.

First, look, we are very hopeful that the dispute between the Saudis and the Qataris can be resolved. We hope so because we think that’s important for peace throughout the Middle East, but most importantly we think it’s the right thing for the people of each of those countries. We’re going to keep working to do our – what we can to facilitate conversations and dialogue where we can help. We’re anxious to be helpful.

I get asked all the time, “Well, when do you think this will end,” or “When do you think the next country will sign the Abraham Accords?” Goodness gracious, I am out of the prediction business in terms of timing. Yeah. It will – it’ll be resolved when the parties conclude that it’s in their best interest to do so, that it makes sense for their people. This is the central idea.

And you talked about going back to founding principles. Every country has its own founding traditions. John, you spoke to this as well. Each country has a history and a tradition and a culture which drives not only its domestic politics, but its place in the world as well, and how they interact with other nations. In this case, these two countries often have different histories, different reflections on the actual history, and the view from the United States is that this conflict is – it’s time to be resolved, that the region will be better off, more prosperous, and more peaceful when it is in fact resolved. And so my team, our team at the White House, Mr. Kushner, all of us have been engaged in trying to find a good, solid path forward for them which they can both be happy with, and which won’t be just a piece of paper or ephemeral or temporary, but in fact will be built on a foundation that is lasting.

Amos, you asked about the maximum pressure campaign and what we might do in the next 50 days. Look, I know everyone’s staring at January 20th. We’re just continuing to do the good work. We started as quickly as we could when we built it. I remember when I was the CIA director, when we first started our understanding of the Middle East, I remember reading from around the world that American sanctions alone wouldn’t deliver. And so we worked to try and build out coalitions that would join with us. In some cases, we were successful; in other cases, much less so. But the sanctions themselves have been incredibly effective. When I say effective, we can see that the regime in Iran is having to make difficult choices, difficult choices about whether to invest in their space program or underwrite militias that are in the southern part of Iraq. They’re having to make decisions about whether to work on a new technology, that it might have a dual use; in fact, it might have a valid civil use, but also might be connected to a nuclear weapons program, or potentially the technology used in a nuclear weapons program, or to underwrite the efforts to destabilize the government in Lebanon and prevent it from being reformed in a way that could deliver good outcomes for the Lebanese people.

So in that sense, it has worked tremendously. It has now put the Iranian leadership in a very difficult place where they’ve got to make these hard choices, and they are looking to see if they can’t convince the world that, “No, the Trump administration had this wrong, you should fund us, you should underwrite us, you should appease us, you should let us have money, you should let European companies come back into our country so that we can build out on all of these terror programs and these malign activities around the world.” I think it’s fundamentally the wrong direction.

You asked my wisdom for the next administration. They’re plenty smart enough; they’ll figure their way through this. What I would say is to the world, that can’t be the right direction. It cannot be that the right direction is to allow Iran to continue to buy and sell weapons again. It can’t be the case that the right direction is to allow Iran to have access to Western technology and Western capital again. Those are the things we have seen that destabilize the Middle East, that make it riskier for people, whether they’re in Egypt or Kuwait or in Bahrain – it makes them less able to live their lives in ways that aren’t under threat from this theocratic terrorist regime. That would – down that path lies what we have all seen: a real risk to the stability of the region.

The third question was an interesting one about – referenced our founding and the founding of the international order and the history of multilateralism. I recall giving a speech in Brussels early on in my time as Secretary of State. I believe I walked off stage without so much as two people clapping. It was because I went there that day to talk about our view of how multilateralism can work and when it ultimately fails the very mission that it is set out to do. And so we talked about how America was going to think about it.

There have been multilateral institutions which we have supported, expanded, made better. I would argue NATO is in a much better place today than it was four years ago. We had a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting this past week. I listened. I listened to a talk about the threats of the day, from space, from cyber, from China, the threats that continue from Russia. These were conversations that weren’t being had, and there are resources available for NATO today that wouldn’t have been had without the hard work that America did to convince every nation that it was in its own collective best interest to be part of that important, critical, transatlantic, multilateral institution.

There have been others that we just simply concluded wouldn’t work. I’ll give you a couple of examples. The World Health Organization – the World Health Organization miserably failed each and every one of the countries that you all represent and allowed the Chinese Communist Party to obfuscate what took place. It allowed it to cover up; it didn’t ring the bell. Its systems failed to prevent a virus from traveling from Wuhan around the world that has now undermined every economy and killed tens of thousands of people. This is tragic. This is a failure of a multilateral institution. There are three significant reforms that have taken place over the last dozens of years. They all failed. And so we concluded we were going to find another place, another way that the international community could come together to do pandemic prevention. This has to work. We want to be part of that. The United States wants to be part of that. But the World Health Organization became a political tool instead of a science-based effort to actually deliver security and safety from these pandemics across the world.

It’s how we think about it. Does it get real results? Does it deliver good outcomes? Is the organization fit for purpose? If it is, we’ll reinforce, we’ll invest our resources, and we will be a strong partner for every member of the multilateral institution. If it doesn’t, we should either fix it or forget it, and that’s how we have thought about this.

On final question, I’ll be brief about this. We’re trying to get our force posture right and our diplomatic posture right in Iraq and in Baghdad. We have been committed there for a long time. President Trump made two purposes very clear, two missions very clear. One is to continue the campaign to make sure that ISIS doesn’t raise its ugly head again, and second, to work to make sure that the leadership in Iraq was on the right mission, was focused on its independence and sovereignty and the freedom to be out from under the jackboot of the Iranian regime. I think the things that we have done there to date have made that more likely, more probable. We’ve welcomed all the efforts that the Gulf states have made to help Prime Minister Khadhimi be successful, and the United States is committed to trying to do that.

But Iraq’s leadership has a responsibility to my team, to our diplomatic team, and to those of you who have embassies in the Green Zone as well, to do the hard work to make sure that those diplomatic posts are safe and secure. And when they can do that, we’re happy to be present and to work. When they can’t, we’re going to do the right thing for our own security posture, all the while making sure that we are fully committed to the sovereignty and independence of Iraq.

MR CHIPMAN: That’s superb. With your permission, we’ll take three or four, a second round, and I’ll ask everybody to be crisper.

From Germany, Bastian Giegerich.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Secretary, for your remarks. You spoke about China and the actions that countries in this region and in other regions should take to put up defenses against that expanding influence, which the director of national intelligence just – U.S. director of national intelligence just characterized as being ultimately about dominating the planet economically, militarily, and technologically. A lot of countries, when they take action, take up action to protect themselves – investment screening, supply chain diversification, those kinds of things. What would you advise countries in this region and elsewhere to do beyond those protective measures to put a counterpoint to that development that the U.S. has described? Thank you.

MR CHIPMAN: And from Korea, also here in Bahrain, Chung Min Lee.

QUESTION: Thank you, John. Mr. Secretary, thank you for your speech. My question is: President Trump emphasized that he wanted to end America’s long wars in Afghanistan, and I guess to a more limited degree in Syria. As you think about the most important military achievements of the Trump administration, how confident are you, Mr. Secretary, that the U.S. will continue to become the indispensable military power in the region and to project power – military power – effectively? Thank you.

MR CHIPMAN: And we have a young leadership program here, as I mentioned, and we’re delighted to have from Morocco Imru Al Qays Talha Jebril. Your microphone is on.

QUESTION: Hello. Thank you, Mr. Secretary of State. I would like to ask you a very brief and direct question: What is the current administration’s U.S. stance on Morocco’s recent skirmishes or clearing of the way of the Polisario protests in the Western Sahara region? And secondly, what is, in your personal capacity, your opinion in dealing with this issue? What diplomatic efforts would it take from the U.S. and other actors to actually deal with this issue and remove the security threat this issue has been creating for the long term? Thank you very much.

MR CHIPMAN: And finally, also on Afghanistan – and we take note that Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor Mohib will address the dialogue this weekend – your colleague Zalmay Khalilzad – this is a question asked by Antoine Leveque based in London – Zalmay welcomed two days ago a three-page agreement codifying rules and procedures for their negotiations on a political roadmap and a comprehensive ceasefire. How does this development newly help overcome structural challenges to the road to peace?

So that’s your gang of four questions to conclude, Mr. Secretary. Over to you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: All right. Let me – I’m going to take these in reverse order because my memory is short. Look, the agreement that was reached a couple days back setting the roadmap for the discussions was a preliminary agreement for sure, but an important one, a hurdle that had to be crossed in the same way that we had to cross a hurdle back in February when we got the parties together for the first time. It was a truly historic moment where the Afghans came together and agreed that they would sit across the table from each other and begin to resolve what is, depending on your start point, 20 or 40 years of conflict.

I think those of us who have been at this for a while recognize that these things take time to resolve. There’s a deep-seated history. There’s lots of challenges, different views, not just two – we talk about the Afghan Government or the Taliban – this is a diverse society, and we’re working to bring every element of that society to the table so that all of those voices are heard. To get this right, to get this process right enabled us to move on to the substantive conversation. We know that that substantive conversation will take some time.

We also know that today that the violence that’s taking place in Afghanistan is unacceptably high, and we need to begin to have this conversation against a backdrop of much lower violence levels. I am optimistic. I was in Doha, goodness, now two weeks ago or three weeks ago, met with the Afghan negotiating team and the Taliban negotiating team. In each case, they demonstrated a willingness, they had lots of different views, making clear that this was going to be something that would have to be a hard-fought negotiation. But to a person, I made clear to them that the violence levels can’t continue while these negotiations go on. It won’t work. And so we’ve asked all of them to stand back and indeed stand down. In that respect, I hope we can begin to start to address some of the front-end issues about a ceasefire here before too long.

The next to last question was about Morocco. Well look, we’ve put a statement about Morocco – our policy hasn’t frankly changed very much from where we were six months or even 24 months ago. We hope that the Moroccans can find a way through this. We, just like in most conflicts in the world – our view is that it ought not be resolved through military means but through a set of conversations that can deliver good outcomes.

The third – the second question was about power projection and about our military power projection in particular. Yes, President Trump’s made very clear he wants fewer American young men and women in harm’s way. That’s good if you’re a secretary of state, because it says that he’s counting on you to figure out how to resolve these problems. We know that we can do this when we have a strong military. We’ve built it up. We spent $750 billion a year to build out the world’s finest military with the most capable set of structures to deliver good outcomes for when we need to do that.

But President Trump’s made clear he wants us to have to do that less often, and so the burden falls to those of us in the diplomatic world to go deliver that. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to have – we have our – our Fifth Fleet’s there in Bahrain, we’ve got forces throughout many places in the Middle East. I think those things are enduring and important. We’ve got forces in Saudi Arabia. We’ve got lots of activities all throughout not just the Middle East, but in the Indian Ocean and – these are important places, important places for America to be so that our deterrence posture can do what President Trump described, which is to put fewer of our young men and women in actual harm’s way.

And then the first question, and where I’ll wrap up, is this idea of what should Middle Eastern countries do about China. I don’t think it’s any different for countries in the Middle East than it is for any of the rest of us. Every country has deep commercial ties inside of China, and that has blinded us, including the United States for decades, to the malign activity of the Chinese Communist Party. This is not accidental. This is deeply intentional on the part of the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership. But as the DNI said yesterday, his basis for believing China’s desire for hegemony is that this is what the Chinese Communist Party says, it’s what they tell us.

So every country needs to be mindful of that. So we can’t have Chinese equipment in our telecommunications infrastructure. We can’t have the Chinese showing up with a commercial veneer for PLA – as PLA cover entities. We have to take those risks seriously and that may well mean that China will threaten certain commercial activities in your country. Walk through the fire, get it right, keep your people safe, do not let the Chinese Communist Party come to treat your country as a vassal state.

MR CHIPMAN: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for these opening remarks. Thank you even more for the conversation in which you’ve so vigorously engaged. And thank you even more for getting our 16th Manama Dialogue on to such a great start. Many thanks.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, sir. You all have – hope you have a great rest of your conference.

MR CHIPMAN: Thank you. (Applause.)

More from: Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Hits: 17

News Network

  • Medicaid Long-Term Services and Supports: Access and Quality Problems in Managed Care Demand Improved Oversight
    In U.S GAO News
    At the state and federal levels, GAO found weaknesses in the oversight of Medicaid managed long-term services and supports (MLTSS), which assist individuals with basic needs like bathing or eating. Through various monitoring approaches, six selected states identified significant problems in their MLTSS programs with managed care organization (MCO) performance of care management, which includes assessing beneficiary needs, authorizing services, and monitoring service provision to ensure quality and access to care. State efforts may not be identifying all care management problems due to limitations in the information they use to monitor MCOs, allowing some performance problems to continue over multiple years. Performance Problems in Managed Care Organization (MCO) Care Management, Identified by Selected States GAO found that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) oversight of state implementation of its 2016 requirements, and of access and quality in MLTSS more broadly, was limited. This hinders the agency's ability to hold states and MCOs accountable for quality and access problems beneficiaries may face. Oversight did not detect quality and access problems. GAO identified cases where CMS learned about problems not through its regular oversight, but instead from beneficiary complaints, media reports, or GAO. CMS officials said that states had not reported these problems to the agency. Lack of national oversight strategy and assessment of problems in MLTSS. Weaknesses in oversight reflect a broader area of concern—namely, that CMS lacks a strategy for oversight. CMS also has not assessed the nature and extent of access and quality problems across states. Without a strategy and more robust information, CMS risks being unable to identify and help address problems facing beneficiaries. As of July 2020, CMS had convened a new workgroup focused on MLTSS oversight, though the goals and time frames for its work were unclear. An increasing number of states are using managed care to deliver long-term services and supports in their Medicaid programs, thus delegating decisions around the amounts and types of care beneficiaries receive to MCOs. Federal guidance requires that MLTSS programs include monitoring procedures to ensure the appropriateness of those decisions for this complex population, which includes adults and children who may have physical, cognitive, and mental disabilities. GAO was asked to review care management in MLTSS programs. Among other things, this report examines state monitoring of care management, and CMS oversight of state implementation of 2016 requirements related to MLTSS quality and access. GAO examined documentation of monitoring procedures and problems identified in six states selected for variation in program age and location. GAO reviewed federal regulations and oversight documents, interviewed state and federal Medicaid officials, and assessed CMS's policies and procedures against federal internal control standards. GAO is making two recommendations to CMS to (1) develop a national strategy for overseeing MLTSS, and (2) assess the nature and prevalence of MLTSS quality and access problems across states. CMS did not concur with the recommendations. GAO maintains the recommendations are warranted, as discussed in this report. For more information, contact at (202) 512-7114 or yocomc@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Indiana Man Pleads Guilty to Distributing Pesticides
    In Crime News
    An Indiana man who distributed unregistered pesticides to the tenants and managers of an apartment building he owned has pleaded guilty to three counts of violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
    [Read More…]
  • Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers Delivers Remarks at Cartel Working Group Plenary: Big Data and Cartelization, 2020 International Competition Network Annual Conference
    In Crime News
    Virtual Event Good [Read More…]
  • Killing of Tahir Naseem
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Cale Brown, Deputy [Read More…]
  • Houston man sent to prison for coercion and enticement via Kik
    In Justice News
    A 63-year-old Houston [Read More…]
  • Honduras Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Do not travel to [Read More…]
  • Department of Justice Argues That Vermont’s Barring Parochial Student from College Course Program Violates Constitution
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice today filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit supporting a parochial high school student and her parents and who claim that Vermont discriminated against them in violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution by excluding them from a state program paying tuition for high school students to take up to two college courses.
    [Read More…]
  • Chinese Energy Company, U.S. Oil & Gas Affiliate and Chinese National Indicted for Theft of Trade Secrets
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury has returned an indictment alleging corporate entities conspired to steal technology from a Houston-area oil & gas manufacturer, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick and Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division. Jason Energy Technologies Co. (JET) in Yantai, People’s Republic of China; Jason Oil and Gas Equipment LLC (JOG) USA and Chinese national Lei Gao aka Jason Gao, 45, are charged with conspiracy, theft of trade secrets and attempted theft of trade secrets. 
    [Read More…]
  • Florida Recording Artist and Pennsylvania Man Charged for Role in $24 Million COVID-Relief Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A Florida recording artist and a Pennsylvania towing company owner have been charged for their 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…]
  • Office of Justice Programs Awards $261 Million to Support Youth Mentoring, Protect Children
    In Crime News
    The Office of Justice [Read More…]
  • Palau Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Exercise increased [Read More…]
  • IRS Reorganization: Planning Addressed Key Reform Practices, but Goals and Measures for the Plan Have Not Been Finalized
    In U.S GAO News
    GAO identified advantages of, challenges related to, and options for improving the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) current organizational structure, based on GAO's review of prior work and interviews with IRS officials and stakeholders. For example, one advantage of the current structure, according to several interviewees, is that IRS's divisions have developed specialized expertise on different types of taxpayers with similar needs, such as small businesses. Several interviewees also believed that addressing some of IRS's challenges may not require significant changes to IRS's organizational structure. GAO and others have identified challenges and options to improve IRS's structure, processes, and operations in the following areas: (1) customer service; (2) communication and coordination within IRS; (3) technology; and (4) strategic human capital management and training. While developing its reorganization plan required by the Taxpayer First Act, IRS addressed or partially addressed all six of the key practices for agency reforms that GAO reviewed (see table below). GAO Assessment of IRS's Reorganization Planning Process against Key Reform Practices Key reform practice Extent addressed Establishing goals and outcomes ◑ Involving employees and key stakeholders ● Using data and evidence ● Addressing fragmentation, overlap, and duplication ◑ Addressing high-risk areas and long-standing management challenges ◑ Leadership focus and attention ● Legend: ● Generally addressed ◑ Partially addressed ○ Not addressed Source: GAO analysis of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) information. | GAO-21-18 IRS established a senior-level team—the Taxpayer First Act Office—to lead the reorganization planning, involved employees and key stakeholders, and used multiple sources of data and evidence to inform its planning. Although IRS has developed preliminary goals for the plan, it has not yet finalized and communicated the goals and performance measures for the plan. IRS has also researched potential actions it could take to address long-standing management challenges at IRS, such as those related to areas of fragmentation, overlap, duplication, and high risk that GAO has identified. However, IRS has not yet decided on specific actions to address those areas in its plan. IRS officials told us that they intend to take these additional steps, but COVID-19 delayed the completion of their reorganization plan to December 2020. As a result, it is still unclear whether the reorganization plan will have outcome-oriented goals and performance measures or whether it will identify specific actions to address long-standing management challenges. Taking these steps could help IRS identify and achieve the intended outcomes of the reorganization plan, and identify reforms that can create long-term gains in efficiency and effectiveness. The Taxpayer First Act required that a comprehensive written plan to redesign IRS be submitted to Congress by September 30, 2020. Reforming and reorganizing a federal agency as large and complex as IRS is not an easy task. However, a potential reorganization could provide IRS with an opportunity to address emerging and long-standing challenges. GAO was asked to review IRS's organizational structure and IRS's plans to reform it. This report examines (1) reported advantages of, challenges related to, and options for potentially improving IRS's organizational structure; and (2) the extent to which IRS's reorganization planning process is consistent with selected leading practices. GAO reviewed documents from IRS and other sources; interviewed IRS officials and stakeholders, including three former IRS commissioners; and assessed IRS's reorganization planning process against selected key practices for agency reform efforts developed by GAO. GAO is making three recommendations to IRS as it finalizes its reorganization plan, including that IRS should finalize goals and performance measures, and identify specific actions to address long-standing management challenges. IRS responded that it plans to implement GAO's recommendations when it submits its final reorganization plan to Congress in December 2020. For more information, contact James R. McTigue, Jr. at (202) 512-9110 or mctiguej@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Remarks at World Economic Forum, Davos 2021
    In Climate - Environment - Conservation
    John Kerry, Special [Read More…]
  • Chemical Security: Overlapping Programs Could Better Collaborate to Share Information and Identify Potential Security Gaps
    In U.S GAO News
    Eight federal programs addressing chemical safety or security from four departments or agencies that GAO reviewed contain requirements or guidance that generally align with at least half of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) 18 Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program standards. At least 550 of 3,300 (16 percent) facilities subject to the CFATS program are also subject to other federal programs. Analyses of CFATS and these eight programs indicate that some overlap, duplication, and fragmentation exists, depending on the program or programs to which a facility is subject. For example, six federal programs' requirements or guidance indicate some duplication with CFATS. CFATS program officials acknowledge similarities among these programs' requirements or guidance, some of which are duplicative, and said that the CFATS program allows facilities to meet CFATS program standards by providing information they prepared for other programs. more than 1,600 public water systems or wastewater treatment facilities are excluded under the CFATS statute, leading to fragmentation. While such facilities are subject to other programs, those programs collectively do not contain requirements or guidance that align with four CFATS standards. According to DHS, public water systems and wastewater treatment facilities are frequently subject to safety regulations that may have some security value, but in most cases, these facilities are not required to implement security measures commensurate to their level of security risk, which may lead to potential security gaps. The departments and agencies responsible for all nine of these chemical safety and security programs—four of which are managed by DHS, three by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and one each managed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Department of Transportation (DOT)—have previously worked together to enhance information collection and sharing in response to Executive Order 13650, issued in 2013. This Executive Order directed these programs to take actions related to improving federal agency coordination and information sharing. However, these programs have not identified which facilities are subject to multiple programs, such that facilities may be unnecessarily developing duplicative information to comply with multiple programs. Although CFATS allows facilities to use information they prepared for other programs, CFATS program guidance does not specify what information facilities can reuse. Finally, DHS and EPA leaders acknowledged that there are differences between CFATS requirements and the security requirements for public water systems and wastewater treatment facilities, but they have not assessed the extent to which potential security gaps may exist. By leveraging collaboration established through the existing Executive Order working group, the CFATS program and chemical safety and security partners would be better positioned to minimize unnecessary duplication between CFATS and other programs and better ensure the security of facilities currently subject to fragmented requirements. Facilities with hazardous chemicals could be targeted by terrorists to inflict mass casualties or damage. Federal regulations applicable to chemical safety and security have evolved over time as authorizing statutes and regulations established programs for different purposes, such as safety versus security, and with different enforcement authorities. GAO has reported that such programs may be able to achieve greater efficiency where overlap exists by reducing duplication and better managing fragmentation. GAO was asked to review issues related to the effects that overlap, duplication, and fragmentation among the multiple federal programs may have on the security of the chemical sector. This report addresses the extent to which (1) such issues may exist between CFATS and other federal programs, and (2) the CFATS program collaborates with other federal programs. GAO analyzed the most recent available data on facilities subject to nine programs from DHS, EPA, ATF, and DOT; reviewed and analyzed statutes, regulations, and program guidance; and interviewed agency officials. GAO is making seven recommendations, including that DHS, EPA, ATF, and DOT identify facilities subject to multiple programs; DHS clarify guidance; and DHS and EPA assess security gaps. Agencies generally agreed with six; EPA did not agree with the recommendation on gaps. GAO continues to believe it is valid, as discussed in the report. For more information, contact Nathan Anderson at (206) 287-4804 or AndersonN@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Toyota Motor Company to Pay $180 Million in Settlement for Decade-Long Noncompliance with Clean Air Act Reporting Requirements
    In Crime News
    The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that the United States has filed and simultaneously settled a civil lawsuit against Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota Motor North America Inc., Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc. (Toyota) for systematic, longstanding violations of Clean Air Act emission-related defect reporting requirements, which require manufacturers to report potential defects and recalls affecting vehicle components designed to control emissions.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Honors Law Enforcement Officers and Deputies in Fourth Annual Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing
    In Crime News
    Attorney General William [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Spanish Foreign Minister González Laya
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Higher Education: IRS and Education Could Better Address Risks Associated with Some For-Profit College Conversions
    In U.S GAO News
    GAO identified 59 for-profit college conversions that occurred from January 2011 through August 2020, almost all of which involved the college's sale to a tax-exempt organization. In about one-third of the conversions, GAO found that former owners or other officials were insiders to the conversion—for example, by creating the tax-exempt organization that purchased the college or retaining the presidency of the college after its sale (see figure). While leadership continuity can benefit a college, insider involvement in a conversion poses a risk that insiders may improperly benefit—for example, by influencing the tax-exempt purchaser to pay more for the college than it is worth. Once a conversion has ended a college's for-profit ownership and transferred ownership to an organization the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognizes as tax-exempt, the college must seek Department of Education (Education) approval to participate in federal student aid programs as a nonprofit college. Since January 2011, Education has approved 35 colleges as nonprofit colleges and denied two; nine are under review and 13 closed prior to Education reaching a decision. Figure: Example of a For-Profit College Conversion with Officials in Insider Roles IRS guidance directs staff to closely scrutinize whether significant transactions with insiders reported by an applicant for tax-exempt status will exceed fair-market value and improperly benefit insiders. If an application contains insufficient information to make that assessment, guidance says that staff may need to request additional information. In two of 11 planned or final conversions involving insiders that were disclosed in an application, GAO found that IRS approved the application without certain information, such as the college's planned purchase price or an appraisal report estimating the college's value. Without such information, IRS staff could not assess whether the price was inflated to improperly benefit insiders, which would be grounds to deny the application. If IRS staff do not consistently apply guidance, they may miss indications of improper benefit. Education has strengthened its reviews of for-profit college applications for nonprofit status, but it does not monitor newly converted colleges to assess ongoing risk of improper benefit. In two of three cases GAO reviewed in depth, college financial statements disclosed transactions with insiders that could indicate the risk of improper benefit. Education officials agreed that they could assess this risk through its audited financial statement review process and could develop procedures to do so. Until Education develops and implements such procedures for new conversions, potential improper benefit may go undetected. A for-profit college may convert to nonprofit status for a variety of reasons, such as wanting to align its status and mission. However, in some cases, former owners or other insiders could improperly benefit from the conversion, which is impermissible under the Internal Revenue Code and Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. GAO was asked to examine for-profit college conversions. This report reviews what is known about insider involvement in conversions and to what extent IRS and Education identify and respond to the risk of improper benefit. GAO identified converted for-profit colleges and reviewed their public IRS filings. GAO also examined IRS and Education processes for overseeing conversions, interviewed agency officials, and reviewed federal laws, regulations and agency guidance. GAO selected five case study colleges based on certain risk factors, obtained information from college officials, and reviewed their audited financial statements. In three cases, GAO also reviewed Education case files. Because of the focus on IRS and Education oversight, GAO did not audit any college in this review to determine whether its conversion improperly benefitted insiders. GAO is making three recommendations, including that IRS assess and improve conversion application reviews and that Education develop and implement procedures to monitor newly converted colleges. IRS said it will assess its review process and will evaluate GAO's other recommendation, as discussed in the report. Education agreed with GAO's recommendation. For more information, contact Melissa Emrey-Arras at (617) 788-0534 or emreyarrasm@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Young Giant Planet Offers Clues to Formation of Exotic Worlds
    In Space
    Jupiter-size planets [Read More…]
  • Department Press Briefing – March 18, 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Jalina Porter, Principal [Read More…]
  • Department of Justice Statement on Solarwinds Update
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice Spokesman Marc Raimondi issued the following statement:
    [Read More…]
  • Norway Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Taiwan Individual and International Business Organizations Charged with Criminal Conspiracy to Violate Iranian Sanctions
    In Crime News
    Chin Hua Huang, 42, a resident of Taiwan, was charged in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia with participating in a criminal conspiracy to violate U.S. export laws and sanctions against Iran.  Also charged was Taiwan business organization DES International Co., Ltd. (DES Int’l) and Brunei business organization Soltech Industry Co., Ltd. (Soltech).
    [Read More…]
  • Texas Sport Supplement Company Owner Pleads Guilty to Unlawful Distribution of Steroid-Like Drugs
    In Crime News
    A former Texas resident and his sport supplement company pleaded guilty today to a felony charge relating to the introduction of unapproved new drugs into interstate commerce, the Department of Justice announced.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Michael R. Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Bloods Gang Members Sentenced to Life in Prison for Racketeering Conspiracy Involving Murder and Other Crimes
    In Crime News
    Five members of the United Blood Nation (UBN or Bloods) street gang were sentenced in Charlotte, North Carolina, after standing trial on federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) conspiracy and other charges. These defendants’ sentences are the culmination of a prosecution that charged 83 UBN gang members in the Western District of North Carolina with RICO conspiracy and other crimes.
    [Read More…]
  • Two Individuals And Two Companies Sentenced In Scheme To Fraudulently Sell Popular Dietary Supplements
    In Crime News
    A federal court in Texas sentenced two former dietary supplement company executives to prison and ordered two companies to pay a combined $10.7 million in criminal forfeiture for their roles in fraudulently selling popular workout supplements, the Justice Department announced today.
    [Read More…]
  • Houston-Area Physician and Anesthesiologist Sentenced to 84 Months in Prison for Role in Health Care Benefit Scheme
    In Crime News
    A Houston-area physician and anesthesiologist at two registered pain clinics, Texas Pain Solutions and Integra Medical Clinic, was sentenced today to seven years in prison for his role in fraudulently billing health care programs for at least $5 million dollars in medical tests and procedures, and for the role his fraud played in multiple patient deaths.
    [Read More…]
  • Nauru National Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • The Nation’s Fiscal Health: Effective Use of Fiscal Rules and Targets
    In U.S GAO News
    In fiscal year 2019, debt held by the public reached 79 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). The government's fiscal response to COVID-19 combined with the severe economic contraction from the pandemic will substantially increase federal debt. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that debt held by the public will reach 98 percent of GDP by the end of fiscal year 2020. The nation's fiscal challenges will require attention once the economy has substantially recovered and public health goals have been attained. GAO has previously reported that a long-term plan is needed to put the government on a sustainable fiscal path. Other countries have used well-designed fiscal rules and targets—which constrain fiscal policy by controlling factors like expenditures or revenue—to contain excessive deficits. For example, Germany's constitution places limits on its deficits. The U.S. federal government has previously enacted fiscal rules, such as those in the Budget Control Act of 2011. However, current fiscal rules have not effectively addressed the misalignment between spending and revenues over time. GAO identified key considerations to help Congress if it were to adopt new fiscal rules and targets, as part of a long-term plan for fiscal sustainability (see table). Key Considerations for Designing, Implementing, and Enforcing Fiscal Rules and Targets Setting clear goals and objectives can anchor a country's fiscal policy. Fiscal rules and targets can help ensure that spending and revenue decisions align with agreed-upon goals and objectives. The weight given to tradeoffs among simplicity, flexibility, and enforceability depends on the goals a country is trying to achieve with a fiscal rule. In addition, there are tradeoffs between the types and combinations of rules, and the time frames over which the rules apply. The degree to which fiscal rules and targets are binding, such as being supported through a country's constitution or nonbinding political agreements, can impact their permanence, as well as the extent to which ongoing political commitment is needed to uphold them. Integrating fiscal rules and targets into budget discussions can contribute to their ongoing use and provide for a built-in enforcement mechanism. The budget process can include reviews of fiscal rules and targets. Fiscal rules and targets with limited, well-defined exemptions, clear escape clauses for events such as national emergencies, and adjustments for the economic cycle can help a country address future crises. Institutions supporting fiscal rules and targets need clear roles and responsibilities for supporting their implementation and measuring their effectiveness. Independently analyzed data and assessments can help institutions monitor compliance with fiscal rules and targets. Having clear, transparent fiscal rules and targets that a government communicates to the public and that the public understands can contribute to a culture of fiscal transparency and promote fiscal sustainability for the country. Source: GAO analysis of literature review and interviews. | GAO-20-561 Our nation faces serious challenges at a time when the federal government is highly leveraged in debt by historical norms. The imbalance between revenue and spending built into current law and policy have placed the nation on an unsustainable long-term fiscal path. Fiscal rules and targets can be used to help frame and control the overall results of spending and revenue decisions that affect the debt. GAO was asked to review fiscal rules and targets. This report (1) assesses the extent to which the federal government has taken action to contribute to long-term fiscal sustainability through fiscal rules and targets, and (2) identifies key considerations for designing, implementing, and enforcing fiscal rules and targets in the U.S. GAO compared current and former U.S. fiscal rules to literature on the effective use of rules and targets; reviewed CBO reports and relevant laws; and interviewed experts. GAO conducted case studies of national fiscal rules in Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands. Congress should consider establishing a long-term fiscal plan that includes fiscal rules and targets, such as a debt-to-GDP target, and weigh GAO's key considerations to ensure proper design, implementation, and enforcement of these rules and targets. The Department of the Treasury and other entities provided technical comments, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Jeff Arkin, at (202) 512-6806 or arkinj@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corp. Agrees to Pay $179.7 Million to Resolve Overpayments from the Department of Veterans Affairs
    In Crime News
    TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corp. has agreed to pay the United States $179,700,000 to resolve claims that it received overpayments from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in connection with its administration of certain VA health care programs, the Department of Justice announced today.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Larry O’Connor of the Larry O’Connor Show/WMAL
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Department of State Offers Reward Increase for Information to Bring Transnational Criminal to Justice
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • United States Antitrust Agencies Co-Host the 19th Annual International Competition Network Conference
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are co-hosting the International Competition Network’s (ICN) 19th annual conference, which opens today and runs through Thursday, September 17, 2020.  Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim and FTC Chairman Joseph J. Simons are leading the U.S. agencies’ participation in the ICN’s first virtual conference.  Assistant Attorney General Delrahim and Chairman Simons will deliver opening remarks and speak on the conference’s showcase program addressing the challenges of enforcement in the digital economy.
    [Read More…]
  • Federal Research Grants: OMB Should Take Steps to Establish the Research Policy Board
    In U.S GAO News
    As of January 2021, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had not established the Research Policy Board as required by the 21st Century Cures Act. The act requires OMB to establish the Board within 1 year of the December 13, 2016 enactment of the act. The Board is to provide information on the effects of regulations related to federal research requirements. OMB stated that it had not established the Board because of issues with the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) and other federal agencies’ full participation in the Board’s potential activities to develop or implement a modified approach to indirect cost policies. According to OMB, “the Board would necessarily delve into issues related to compliance burden and indirect cost reimbursement to entities that receive federal funding for research.” Specifically, OMB pointed to a statutory provision appearing in annual appropriations bills that it believes prohibits HHS and other agencies from taking action on issues that could implicate certain indirect cost provisions. According to OMB, this provision could, if continued in future bills, “complicate or even possibly prohibit HHS from participating in major elements of the Board’s process.” OMB stated that, without representation of a major research agency such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is part of HHS, “OMB would not be equipped to meet the statutory goals of the Board.” However, HHS stated in October 2020 that the indirect cost provision would not prohibit NIH’s participation on the Board and that the department was not aware of any other appropriations law provision that would prohibit such participation. GAO has no basis to disagree with HHS’s position. The 21st Century Cures Act does not specifically direct the Board to examine issues related to indirect costs, and we identified other issues that may fall within the scope of the Board’s activities. For example, the act specifies five activities that the Board may conduct, including creating a forum for the discussion of research policy or regulatory gaps, and identifying regulatory process improvements and policy changes. The Board could consider examining these or other issues related to streamlining and harmonizing regulations and reducing administrative burden in federally funded research in accordance with the 21st Century Cures Act. By not having established the Board, OMB is missing opportunities for the Board to provide information on the effects of regulations related to requirements for federally funded research, and to make recommendations to harmonize and streamline such requirements. Further, OMB has limited time to establish the Board and the Board may have insufficient time to complete its work before the Board is set to terminate on September 30, 2021. The 21st Century Cures Act requires OMB to establish an advisory committee, to be known as the Research Policy Board, that is responsible for making recommendations on modifying and harmonizing regulation of federally funded research to reduce administrative burden. The Board is to consist of both federal and non-federal members and include not more than 10 members from federal agencies, including officials from OMB, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), HHS, the National Science Foundation, and other departments and agencies that support or regulate scientific research, as determined by the OMB Director. The 21st Century Cures Act includes a provision for GAO to conduct an independent evaluation of the Board’s activities. This report examines the steps OMB has taken to establish the Board as required by the 21st Century Cures Act. GAO reviewed written responses and other information from OMB, HHS, and OSTP; the 21st Century Cures Act and other laws related to the Board and its establishment; relevant reports on issues related to administrative burden; and related documents such as memoranda and agency guidance. GAO submitted a draft report containing the results of its evaluation to Congress on December 10, 2020. Congress should consider extending the period of authorization for the Research Policy Board, giving OMB additional time to establish the Research Policy Board and complete its statutory mission under the 21st Century Cures Act. GAO recommends that OMB establish the Research Policy Board as mandated by the 21st Century Cures Act and report to Congress on the Board’s activities. OMB did not agree or disagree with this recommendation. We maintain that the evidence in this report shows the need for our recommendation. For more information, contact John Neumann at (202) 512-6888 or neumannj@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • 25th Anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • 7 Things to Know About the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Mission
    In Space
    NASA’s next rover [Read More…]
  • Gang member and convicted felon sentenced to over 11 years in prison
    In Justice News
    A 37-year-old local [Read More…]
  • Honoring the Contributions of the Citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • U.S. Accountant in Panama Papers Investigation Sentenced to Prison
    In Crime News
    A U.S. accountant was sentenced in the Southern District of New York to 39 months in prison for wire fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, aggravated identity theft, and other charges, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt and Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss of the Southern District of New York.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Wolf Blitzer of CNN’s The Situation Room
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken Virtual Discussion with Students on Ice
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Escalating Violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Honoring Anticorruption Champions
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers: Observations on the Navy’s Hybrid Electric Drive Program
    In U.S GAO News
    In 2009, the Secretary of the Navy set goals to reduce fuel consumption and, 2 years later, initiated a program to install Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) systems on its fleet of Arleigh Burke class (DDG 51 Flight IIA) destroyers. The HED system draws surplus power from the ship's electric system and uses it to propel the ship. This allows the crew to turn off the propulsion engines and save fuel. Since 2011, Navy officials told us that they have spent over $100 million on the development, purchase, and upgrade of six HED systems. In October 2018, the Navy completed installation of one of the systems on the USS Truxtun (DDG 103). However, the Navy has yet to install the remaining five HED systems and now plans to use them to support another research effort. The Navy issued a January 2020 report to Congress on the HED system installed on the USS Truxtun, but did not include some requested information. For example, while the report included performance information from operations on board the USS Truxtun, it did not include sufficient information to determine the overall performance of the HED system. A comprehensive test and evaluation could have assessed the system's performance, reliability, and cyber survivability to inform program decision-making. Further, the report did not include a summary of planned investment that includes: an assessment of the costs and benefits of the HED system, or a projection of the funding needed to execute the program. The Navy stated that it did not include a summary of the planned investments in the report because the HED program was not included in the President's fiscal year 2020 budget and also due to the need for additional HED data. However, Congress appropriated $35 million in funding for the HED program in 2020, which was available to support ship installation of the five previously purchased HEDs. The Navy stated that it can only use a small portion of this funding before it expires in September 2022 since the systems cannot be upgraded and incorporated into a ship's maintenance schedule in the next 3 years. In summer 2020, Navy requirements officials informed GAO and Congress that they plan to suspend the HED program and send the five surplus HED systems to support research into a new electric motor, known as Propulsion Derived Ship Service (PDSS). Navy requirements officials identified several reasons for suspending the HED program, but these reasons differ from information GAO obtained during the course of this review. For example: Navy officials stated that it is expensive to maintain the HED system. However, the commanding officer and crew of the USS Truxtun and senior Navy engineers stated that the system requires little maintenance. Navy officials also stated that the HED is not used very often in operations. According to the Navy's January 2020 report, the system was designed for low-speed operations (speed up to 11 knots), which comprise more than one-third of a typical DDGs operating profile. GAO did not assess the Navy's decision to use the HED systems for PDSS research because the Navy did not have documentation regarding the requirements, testing, schedule, or costs of the PDSS effort. GAO could not determine the merits of suspending the HED program and using the other five HED systems for the PDSS effort because the Navy has yet to complete analysis that determines the costs, benefits, and performance necessary to support such a decision. If the Navy completes a further assessment—which has been requested by Congress—it could provide the information necessary to inform future decisions about the HED program. This report assesses the Navy's HED program. Senate Report 115-262 accompanying the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 asked the Navy to submit a report on the HED system installed on the USS Truxtun. GAO was asked to review the Navy's report and the Navy's recent decision to suspend the HED program to pursue the PDSS research project. This report (1) examines the extent to which the Navy's report on the USS Truxtun included information regarding the assessment areas as requested by Congress; and (2) describes the Navy's decision to suspend the HED program and use the HED systems for the PDSS research effort. To conduct this work, GAO reviewed the Navy's 2020 report on the HED system, analyzed data and documentation the Navy used to guide investments, and assessed HED performance information. GAO also interviewed relevant Navy officials, such as the commanding officer and other senior crew of the USS Truxtun, and Navy engineers. GAO is not making any recommendations. For more information, contact Shelby S. Oakley at (202) 512-4841 or oakleys@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Owner of Michigan Payroll Tax Services Firm Charged With Employment Tax Fraud
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Detroit, Michigan, returned an indictment today charging a Farwell, Michigan, businessman with failing to pay payroll taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and failing to file his own returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider for the Eastern District of Michigan.
    [Read More…]
  • Peter Fay, One of Three Judges in Florida Who Served 50 Years, Dies at 92
    In U.S Courts
    Peter T. Fay, one of three federal judges from Florida who each served more than 50 years after being confirmed the same day in 1970, died Sunday in Miami at the age of 92.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Requires Divestiture of Tufts Health Freedom Plan in Order for Harvard Pilgrim and Health Plan Holdings to Proceed With Merger
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it would require Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (Harvard Pilgrim) and Health Plan Holdings (fka Tufts Health Plan) to divest Tufts Health Freedom Plan Inc. (Tufts Freedom), in order to proceed with their merger. Tufts Freedom is Health Plan Holdings’ commercial health insurance business in New Hampshire. The department has approved UnitedHealth Group Inc. (United), as the buyer. Health insurance is an integral part of the American healthcare system, and the proposed settlement will maintain competition for the sale of commercial health insurance to private employers in New Hampshire with fewer than 100 employees.
    [Read More…]
  • Cameroonian Citizen Extradited from Romania to Face Covid-19-Related Fraud Charges
    In Crime News
    A citizen of Cameroon was extradited to the U.S. yesterday to face federal charges for his alleged involvement in a fraud scheme perpetrated against American consumers.
    [Read More…]
  • Opening Remarks by Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo Before the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • The Republic of Kenya’s National Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Ben Shapiro of The Ben Shapiro Show
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • The United States Opposes the ICC Investigation into the Palestinian Situation
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Federal Contractor Agrees to Pay $18.98 Million for Alleged False Claims Act Caused by Overcharges and Unqualified Labor
    In Crime News
    Cognosante LLC has agreed to pay the United States $18,987,789 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by using unqualified labor and overcharging the United States for services provided to government agencies under two General Services Administration (GSA) contracts, the Justice Department announced today.  Cognosante, which is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, provides health care and IT services and solutions to federal agencies.   
    [Read More…]
  • Nuclear Weapons: NNSA Should Further Develop Cost, Schedule, and Risk Information for the W87-1 Warhead Program
    In U.S GAO News
    The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) did not consider cost estimates in early major design decisions for the W87-1 warhead because it was not required to do so, but NNSA has since changed its guidance to require that cost be considered, according to a May 2019 NNSA review of program documentation. The design decisions that remain for features that would achieve either minimum or enhanced requirements for the W87-1 could affect cost, according to NNSA officials (see table). We found, however, that NNSA did not yet have study plans for assessing the costs and benefits of the remaining decisions consistent with best practices as detailed in NNSA's analysis of alternatives business procedure. NNSA does not require and only recommends that programs such as the W87-1 follow these best practices. By directing the W87-1 program and future weapons programs to follow best practices for design studies, or to justify and document deviations, NNSA would have better assurance that design studies apply consistent, reliable, and objective approaches. NNSA Cost Estimates for W87-1 Warhead Design Variations That Meet Minimum and Enhanced Requirements, as of December 2018 (Dollars in billions) W87-1 design variations Cost estimate rangea Design includes features that meet minimum safety and security requirements 7.7 - 13.3 Design includes enhanced safety and security features 8.6 - 14.8 Difference between the above estimate ranges 0.9 - 1.5 Source: National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) documentation | GAO-20-703 aThe cost ranges reflect low and high estimates for a single design variation. The ranges represent technical and production risk and uncertainty. It is not clear that NNSA will be able to produce sufficient numbers of pits—the fissile cores of the primary—to meet the W87-1 warhead's planned production schedule. Recent NNSA and independent studies have cast doubt on NNSA's ability to ready its two planned pit production facilities in time. If one facility is not ready to produce pits in the early 2030s, for example, NNSA would likely produce fewer weapons than planned, according to GAO's analysis of NNSA plans. We were unable to fully assess the extent to which the two pit production facilities will be ready to produce pits for the W87-1 because NNSA's plutonium program—which is managing the facility readiness efforts—has not yet completed an integrated schedule for the overall pit production effort. An integrated schedule is important, according to best practices, because it integrates the planned work, resources, and budget. An NNSA official stated that the program was building a schedule, but could not provide documentation that it would meet best practices. A schedule consistent with best practices would provide NNSA with better assurance that it will have adequate pits to meet planned W87-1 production. This is a public version of a classified report that GAO issued in February 2020. Information that NNSA or DOD deemed classified or sensitive has been omitted. The Department of Defense (DOD) and NNSA restarted a program in fiscal year 2019 to replace the capabilities of the aging W78 nuclear warhead with the W87-1. NNSA made key design decisions for this weapon from 2010 until the program was paused in 2014. NNSA estimated in December 2018 that the W87-1 would cost $8.6 billion to $14.8 billion, which could make it the most expensive warhead modernization program to date. NNSA plans to newly manufacture the entire warhead, including the two major nuclear components, called the primary and secondary, using facilities it is modernizing or repurposing. You asked us to examine plans for the W87-1 warhead. This report examines, among other things, the extent to which NNSA (1) considered cost estimates in prior design decisions for the W87-1 and the potential effects of remaining design decisions on program cost, and (2) will be able to produce sufficient numbers of key nuclear components to meet W87-1 production needs. GAO reviewed NNSA documentation on prior and remaining design decisions and preliminary cost estimates, reviewed warhead and component production schedules, and interviewed NNSA and DOD officials. GAO is making four recommendations, including that NNSA require programs such as the W87-1 to follow analysis of alternatives best practices when studying design options and that the plutonium program build an integrated schedule consistent with schedule best practices. NNSA generally agreed with the recommendations. For more information, contact Allison B. Bawden at (202) 512-3841 or bawdena@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • The Nation’s Fiscal Health: Information on the Spending and Revenue Implications of Potential Debt Targets
    In U.S GAO News
    The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated major federal spending to respond to the national public health emergency and resulting economic turmoil. This response and the severe economic contraction from the pandemic have led to increased federal debt. Once the COVID-19 pandemic abates and the economy has substantially recovered, Congress and the administration will need to address the federal government’s fiscal challenges. To help change the long-term fiscal path, in September 2020 GAO recommended that Congress consider establishing a long-term fiscal plan that includes fiscal rules and targets, such as a debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) target. In this report, GAO analyzed the changes in spending and revenue needed to reach six potential debt-to-GDP targets at the end of a 30-year period (2020-2049). To reach any of the targets, policymakers will need to cut program spending, increase revenue, or, most likely, a combination of both (see table). Illustrative Examples of Changes Needed to Achieve Debt-to-GDP Targets Debt target, percent of GDP (end of 30 years) Spending and revenue: total change over 30 years Program spending alone: Immediate and permanent decrease needed in annual projected program spendinga Revenue alone: Immediate and permanent increase needed in annual projected revenue Percent Dollars, trillions Percent Percent 140 25.4 13.8 18.5 120 31.2 16.9 22.8 100 37 20 27 80 42.8 23.1 31.2 60 48.5 26.3 35.4 0 (paying off all debt) 65.9 35.7 48.1 Source: GAO simulation. | GAO-21-211. Note: The simulation used for this analysis generally reflect historical trends, such as the extension of tax provisions scheduled to expire. It does not account for potential macroeconomic effects of fiscal policy changes over time. aProgram spending consists of all spending except interest payments on debt held by the public. When considering the spending and revenue changes needed to achieve various debt-to-GDP targets, policymakers may also consider how changes in assumptions about key variables—such as discretionary spending, revenue, and GDP—affect these fiscal outcomes. For example, if GDP growth is greater than expected, policymakers may have to make smaller spending cuts or revenue increases to reach a selected debt-to-GDP target than those that would be needed based on GAO’s standard assumptions. GAO created an interactive web tool accompanying this report to allow users to enter different assumptions for each of these variables. This tool illustrates how these changes would affect the different debt-to-GDP targets over time, as well as the changes in spending and revenue needed to achieve various targets. This tool can be found at https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-21-211. Even before the fiscal and economic effects resulting from COVID-19, an imbalance between federal revenue and spending that is built into current law and policy was contributing to the growing federal debt. The Congressional Budget Office projects that by 2023 federal debt held by the public will reach 107 percent of GDP, its highest point in U.S. history. This situation—in which federal debt grows faster than GDP—means that our nation is on an unsustainable fiscal path. GAO was asked to review issues related to fiscal rules and targets and the federal fiscal condition. In response to this request, in September 2020, GAO issued a report (GAO-20-561) on key considerations for the design, implementation, and enforcement of fiscal rules and targets. This report supplements that work and describes how changes in assumptions of future spending and revenue affect the federal government’s projected fiscal condition. GAO updated its long-term simulations of federal revenue and spending to (1) analyze six potential debt-to-GDP targets and (2) measure the fiscal gap—the policy change needed to reach a given debt-to-GDP fiscal target from the start to the end of 30-years. GAO also analyzed how changes in key variables affected the debt-to-GDP targets and the fiscal gap. For more information, contact Jeff Arkin at (202) 512-6806 or arkinj@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Louisiana Tax Preparer Sentenced to Prison for Filing Fraudulent Returns
    In Crime News
    A Louisiana tax return preparer was sentenced to 24 months in prison today for conspiring to defraud the United States, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Michael R. Pompeo and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud After Their Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]