Ned Price, Department Spokesperson
The United States is gravely concerned by the reports of atrocities, including sexual violence, committed by fighters affiliated with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in the Amhara region of Ethiopia in late August and early September 2021, as described in a recent Amnesty International report. We call on all armed actors to renounce and end all human rights abuses and violence against civilians. It remains our firm position that there must be credible investigations into and accountability for atrocities as part of any lasting solution to the crisis.
Continued reports of atrocities underscore the urgency of ending the ongoing military conflict. We continue to engage parties to the conflict to urge a halt to the violence, an end to atrocities, the unhindered provision of life-saving humanitarian assistance, and a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
- Leader of Armed Home Invasion Robbery Crew Sentenced for RICO Conspiracy and Other Violent Crimes
May 7, 2021A Texas man was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his leadership role in an armed home invasion robbery crew that traveled the United States targeting families of South Asian and East Asian descent.
- Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations: DOD Needs to Take Action to Help Ensure Superiority
March 19, 2021What GAO Found The electromagnetic spectrum (the spectrum) consists of frequencies worldwide that support many civilian and military uses, from mobile phone networks and radios to navigation and weapons. This invisible battlespace is essential to Department of Defense (DOD) operations in all domains—air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace. The interruption of U.S. forces’ access to the spectrum can result in a military disadvantage, preventing U.S. forces from operating as planned and desired. According to the studies by DOD and others that GAO reviewed for its December 2020 report on military operations in the spectrum, adversaries, such as China and Russia, are also aware of the importance of the spectrum and have taken significant steps to improve their own capabilities that challenge DOD and its operations. For example, studies described how China has formed new military units and fielded new unmanned aerial vehicles with spectrum warfare capabilities, and Russian electromagnetic warfare forces have demonstrated their effectiveness through successful real-world applications against U.S. and foreign militaries. These developments are particularly concerning in the context of challenges to DOD’s spectrum superiority. GAO’s analysis of the studies highlighted DOD management challenges such as dispersed governance, limited full-time senior-level leadership, outdated capabilities, a lengthy acquisition process, increased spectrum competition and congestion, and a gap in experienced staff and realistic training. GAO found that DOD had issued strategies in 2013 and 2017 to address spectrum-related challenges, but did not fully implement either strategy because DOD did not assign senior leaders with appropriate authorities and resources or establish oversight processes for implementation. DOD published a new strategy in October 2020, but GAO found in December 2020 the department risks not achieving the new strategy’s goals because it had not taken key actions—such as identifying processes and procedures to integrate spectrum operations across the department, reforming governance structures, and clearly assigning leadership for strategy implementation. Also, it had not developed oversight processes, such as an implementation plan, that would help ensure accountability and implementation of the 2020 strategy goals (see figure). Actions to Ensure DOD Superiority in the Electromagnetic Spectrum Why GAO Did This Study The spectrum is essential for facilitating control in operational environments and affects operations in the air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace domains. Spectrum use is pervasive across warfighting domains and thus maintaining or achieving spectrum superiority against an adversary is critical to battlefield success. This statement summarizes: (1) the importance of the spectrum; (2) challenges to DOD’s superiority in the spectrum; and (3) the extent to which DOD has implemented spectrum-related strategies and is positioned to achieve future goals. This statement is based on GAO’s December 2020 report (GAO-21-64) and updates conducted in March 2021. For the report, GAO analyzed 43 studies identified through a literature review, reviewed DOD documentation, and interviewed DOD officials and subject matter experts. For the updates, GAO reviewed materials that DOD provided in March 2021.
- Montana Chiropractor and his Wife Plead Guilty to Tax Evasion
November 20, 2020A Montana chiropractor and his wife pleaded guilty today to tax evasion, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Kurt G. Alme for the District of Montana.
- Rural Hospital Closures: Affected Residents Had Reduced Access to Health Care Services
January 21, 2021GAO found that when rural hospitals closed, residents living in the closed hospitals’ service areas would have to travel substantially farther to access certain health care services. Specifically, for residents living in these service areas, GAO’s analysis shows that the median distance to access some of the more common health care services increased about 20 miles from 2012 to 2018. For example, the median distance to access general inpatient services was 3.4 miles in 2012, compared to 23.9 miles in 2018—an increase of 20.5 miles. For some of the less common services that were offered by a few of the hospitals that closed, this median distance increased much more. For example, among residents in the service areas of the 11 closed hospitals that offered treatment services for alcohol or drug abuse, the median distance was 5.5 miles in 2012, compared to 44.6 miles in 2018—an increase of 39.1 miles to access these services (see figure). Median Distance in Miles from Service Areas with Rural Hospital Closures to the Nearest Open Hospital that Offered Certain Health Care Services, 2012 and 2018 Notes: GAO focused its analysis on the health care services offered in 2012 by the 64 rural hospitals that closed during the years 2013 through 2017 and for which data were available. For example, in 2012, 64 closed hospitals offered general inpatient services, 62 offered emergency department services, 11 offered treatment services for alcohol or drug abuse, and 11 offered services in a coronary care unit. To examine distance, GAO calculated “crow-fly miles” (the distance measured in a straight line) from the geographic center of each closed rural hospital’s service area to the geographic center of the ZIP Code with the nearest open rural or urban hospital that offered a given service. GAO also found that the availability of health care providers in counties with rural hospital closures generally was lower and declined more over time, compared to those without closures. Specifically, counties with closures generally had fewer health care professionals per 100,000 residents in 2012 than did counties without closures. The disparities in the availability of health care professionals in these counties grew from 2012 to 2017. For example, over this time period, the availability of physicians declined more among counties with closures—dropping from a median of 71.2 to 59.7 per 100,000 residents—compared to counties without closures—which dropped from 87.5 to 86.3 per 100,000 residents. Rural hospitals face many challenges in providing essential access to health care services to rural communities. From January 2013 through February 2020, 101 rural hospitals closed. GAO was asked to examine the effects of rural hospital closures on residents living in the areas of the hospitals that closed. This report examines, among other objectives, how closures affected the distance for residents to access health care services, as well as changes in the availability of health care providers in counties with and without closures. GAO analyzed data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program (NC RHRP) for rural hospitals (1) that closed and those that were open during the years 2013 through 2017, and (2) for which complete data generally were available at the time of GAO’s review. GAO also interviewed HHS and NC RHRP officials and reviewed relevant literature. GAO defined hospitals as rural according to data from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. GAO defined hospital closure as a cessation of inpatient services, the same definition used by NC RHRP. GAO defined service areas with closures as the collection of ZIP Codes that were served by closed rural hospitals and service areas without closures as the collection of ZIP Codes served only by rural hospitals that were open. GAO provided a draft of this report to HHS for comment. The Department provided technical comments, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact James Cosgrove at (202) 512-7114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Iran and China, the Totalitarian Twins
September 27, 2020Keith Krach, Under [Read More…]
- U.S. 2021 APEC Outcomes
November 12, 2021
- Atlanta Tax Professionals Plead Guilty to Promoting Syndicated Conservation Easement Tax Scheme Involving More Than $1.2 Billion in Fraudulent Charitable Deductions
December 21, 2020Stein Agee of Canton, Georgia, and Corey Agee of Atlanta, Georgia, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge W. Carleton Metcalf and pleaded guilty for their roles in a wide-ranging abusive tax scheme to defraud the IRS, announced United States Attorney R. Andrew Murray for the Western District of North Carolina, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, and Commissioner Charles Rettig of the IRS.
- North Carolina Return Preparer Sentenced to 50 Months in Prison for Multi-Year Tax Fraud Scheme
February 8, 2021A Rocky Mount, North Carolina, tax return preparer was sentenced to 50 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 U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon Jr. for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
- Justice Department Settles with Iowa-Based Nursing Home and Management Company to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim
August 13, 2021The Department of Justice announced today that it reached a settlement with JP Senior Healthcare LLC and JP Senior Management LLC, resolving the department’s claims that these companies violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against a Latino employee based on assumptions that the worker was not a U.S. citizen.
- Special Envoy for the Sahel Region Ambassador J. Peter Pham Travel to Burkina Faso
December 27, 2020
- United States Designates Entities and Individuals Linked to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) Weapons Programs
January 12, 2022Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- Netherlands Travel Advisory
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- Firearms Trafficking: More Information is Needed to Inform U.S. Efforts in Central America
January 11, 2022What GAO Found The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) receives firearm trace requests from the governments of Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras for some, but not all, firearms recovered in those countries. ATF tracing data for approximately 27,000 firearms recovered from 2015 through 2019—the most recent data available—show that 40 percent came from the U.S. and the rest from 39 other countries. ATF data also indicate that almost half of the U.S.-sourced firearms were likely diverted from legitimate commerce in the four countries rather than smuggled from the U.S. From January 2015 through March 2021, more than 100,000 firearms were legally exported from the U.S. to the four countries, according to agency data. Firearms are not manufactured in these countries, but U.S. and foreign officials stated that criminals can obtain them through illegal markets and theft, among other means. ATF data show most firearms submitted for tracing were handguns. Types of Firearms Recovered in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras and Submitted to ATF for Tracing, 2015–2019 Although disrupting firearms trafficking is not a specific U.S. goal for the region, U.S. agencies have broad capacity-building, investigative, and border security efforts, which may help disrupt firearms trafficking. For example: The Department of State provided a total of $38 million for capacity-building programs in fiscal years 2015 through 2019, which included some activities related to firearms trafficking—for example, training on firearms-trafficking investigations. ATF assisted partner governments by tracing recovered firearms, which provided investigative leads and helped law enforcement agencies in partner countries to link disparate criminal acts. U.S. Customs and Border Protection shared information on criminal activity, including firearms smuggling, with the four countries. The 2021 U.S. Strategy for Addressing Root Causes of Migration in Central America directs U.S. agencies to address violence, crime, and security in the region. State officials said that in response to this strategy, they plan to develop new projects or modify existing projects to focus on firearms. However, according to the officials, they lack sufficient information about relevant country conditions to tailor these projects to address each country’s needs. State officials have not sought such information from the four countries’ governments or other U.S. agencies because State has not focused on firearms trafficking in the countries. Obtaining such information would enhance State’s ability to develop effective programs to reduce criminal access to firearms and firearms-related violence in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Why GAO Did This Study The four Central American countries Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have high rates of violence, including homicide. According to foreign crime data and foreign officials, most homicides in the countries are committed with firearms imported legally or illegally from other countries. Violence and insecurity in the countries have been identified as contributing factors in migration to the U.S. GAO was asked to report on U.S. efforts to counter firearms trafficking to Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. This report examines (1) U.S. agencies’ knowledge about firearms trafficking to criminals in these countries, (2) U.S. agencies’ efforts to disrupt firearms trafficking in these countries, and (3) U.S. planning to address firearms trafficking in these countries. GAO reviewed firearms tracing and other agency data, related analysis, and program information for fiscal years 2014 through 2020. GAO also interviewed U.S. and foreign officials.
- Deputy Secretary Wendy R. Sherman At a Press Availability
November 17, 2021Wendy R. Sherman, Deputy [Read More…]
- Elections in Ethiopia
June 11, 2021Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Major Management Issues Facing DOD’s Development and Fielding Efforts
August 31, 2021The current generation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has been under development since the 1980s. UAVs were used in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002 and 2003 to observe, track, target, and strike enemy forces. These successes have heightened interest in UAVs within the Department of Defense (DOD). Congress has been particularly interested in DOD’s approach to managing the growing number of UAV programs. GAO was asked to summarize (1) the results of its most current report on DOD’s approach to developing and fielding UAVs1 and the extent to which the approach provides reasonable assurance that its investment will lead to effective integration of UAVs into the force structure, and (2) the major management issues GAO has identified in prior reports on UAV research and development.GAO’s most recent report points out that while DOD has taken some positive steps, its approach to UAV planning still does not provide reasonable assurance that the significant Congressional investment in UAVs will result in their effective integration into the force structure. In 2001, DOD established the joint UAV Planning Task Force in the Office of the Secretary of Defense to promote a common vision for UAV-related efforts and to establish interoperability standards. To communicate its vision and promote UAV interoperability, the task force issued the 2002 UAV Roadmap. While the Roadmap provides some strategic guidance for the development of UAV technology, neither the Roadmap nor other documents represent a comprehensive strategic plan to ensure that the services and other DOD agencies focus development efforts on systems that complement each other, will perform the range of priority missions needed, and avoid duplication. Moreover, the Task Force has only advisory authority and, as such, cannot compel the services to adopt its suggestions. GAO’s prior work supports the need for effective oversight of individual UAV programs at the departmental level. UAVs have suffered from requirements growth, risky acquisition strategies, and uncertain funding support within the services. Some programs have been terminated. Success has been achieved as a result of top-level intervention and innovative acquisition approaches. For example, in 2003, the Office of the Secretary of Defense had to intervene to keep the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle program viable. As UAV programs grow in the future, they will face challenges in the form of increased funding competition, greater demand for capabilities, and spectrum and airspace limitations. Moreover, UAVs are no longer an additional “nice-to-have” capability; they are becoming essential to the services’ ability to conduct modern warfare. Meeting these challenges will require continued strong leadership, building on the UAV Roadmap and Planning Task Force as GAO has recommended.
- The United States and the Holy See: Promoting Religious Freedom and Defending Human Dignity
September 30, 2020
- Department Press Briefing – October 4, 2021
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- Former Senior Libyan Intelligence Officer and Bomb-Maker for the Muamar Qaddafi Regime Charged for The December 21, 1988 Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103
December 21, 2020Today, Attorney General William Barr, Director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers, and Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Michael Sherwin, announced new charges against a former Libyan intelligence operative, Abu Agela Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, aka, “Hasan Abu Ojalya Ibrahim” (Masud), for his role in building the bomb that killed 270 individuals in the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on Dec. 21, 1988.
- Leader of a Sophisticated Drug Trafficking Organization and Prolific Ally of the Sinaloa Cartel Sentenced
July 27, 2021A Mexican national was sentenced today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to 22 years in prison for her role in an international drug trafficking conspiracy to transport into the United States thousands of kilograms of cocaine and dozens of pounds of methamphetamine.