Office of the Spokesperson
The U.S. Department of State will welcome 112 leaders in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields from Africa, the Middle East, and South and Central Asia to participate in the hybrid TechWomen Program. Through mentorships with U.S. women leaders in STEM fields, the TechWomen participants will strengthen business ties and build stronger professional networks to advance their work and benefit their communities. As a result, they will encourage more women and girls to pursue STEM careers.
From February 23 through March 31, program participants from 20 countries will connect with over 250 U.S.-based mentors in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area. They will also engage with innovative U.S. tech companies, connect to an accomplished network of professionals, and attend virtual workshops.
Emerging Leaders will explore topics such as teaming for success, leadership skills, design thinking, and impact models for change. Participants will be placed in small groups based on shared professional interests and matched with a member of the TechWomen community who will lead them through discussions designed to encourage groups to relate the topics to their careers and professional lives.
For more information, please contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at ECA-Press@state.gov and join the conversation on Twitter at #techwomen22.
- WWII Nazi Concentration Camp Guard Removed to Germany
February 20, 2021Today a Tennessee resident with German citizenship was removed to Germany for participating in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution while serving as an armed guard at a Nazi concentration camp in 1945.
- California Resident Sentenced to 121 Months in Prison for Facilitating Telemarketing Conspiracy that Defrauded Thousands of Vulnerable U.S. Consumers
May 21, 2021A California man has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for partnering with call centers in Peru that defrauded Spanish-speaking U.S. residents through lies and threats.
- Afghanistan Security: Some Improvements Reported in Afghan Forces’ Capabilities, but Actions Needed to Enhance DOD Oversight of U.S.-Purchased Equipment
August 24, 2021What GAO Found Since the Resolute Support mission began in 2015, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have improved some fundamental capabilities, such as high-level operational planning, but continue to rely on U.S. and coalition support to fill several key capability gaps, according to Department of Defense (DOD) reporting. DOD has initiatives to address some ANDSF capability gaps, such as a country-wide vehicle maintenance and training effort, but DOD reports it does not expect the ANDSF to develop and sustain independent capabilities in some areas, such as logistics, for several years. Examples of U.S.-Purchased Equipment for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces While DOD has firsthand information on the abilities of the Afghan Air Force and Special Security Forces to operate and maintain U.S.-purchased equipment, it has little reliable information on the equipment proficiency of conventional ANDSF units. U.S. and coalition advisors are embedded at the tactical level for the Air Force and Special Security Forces, enabling DOD to directly assess those forces’ abilities. However, the advisors have little direct contact with conventional ANDSF units on the front lines. As a result, DOD relies on those units’ self-assessments of tactical abilities, which, according to DOD officials, can be unreliable. GAO’s analysis of three critical equipment types illustrated the varying degrees of DOD’s information (see figure above). For example, DOD provided detailed information about the Air Force’s ability to operate and maintain MD-530 helicopters and the Special Security Forces’ ability to operate and maintain Mobile Strike Force Vehicles; however, DOD had limited information about how conventional forces operate and maintain radios and Mobile Strike Force Vehicles. DOD’s lack of reliable information on conventional forces’ equipment operations and maintenance abilities adds to the uncertainty and risk in assessing the progress of DOD efforts in Afghanistan. Why GAO Did This Study Developing independently capable ANDSF is a key component of U.S. and coalition efforts to create sustainable security and stability in Afghanistan under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led Resolute Support mission. The United States is the largest contributor of funding and personnel to Resolute Support, providing and maintaining ANDSF equipment, along with training, advising, and assistance to help the ANDSF effectively use and sustain the equipment in the future. House Report 114-537 included a provision for GAO to review the ANDSF’s capability and capacity to operate and sustain U.S.-purchased weapon systems and equipment. This report addresses (1) what has been reported about ANDSF capabilities and capability gaps and (2) the extent to which DOD has information about the ANDSF’s ability to operate and maintain U.S.-purchased equipment. To conduct this work, GAO analyzed DOD and NATO reports and documents, examined three critical equipment types, and interviewed DOD officials in the United States and Afghanistan. This is a public version of a sensitive report issued in September 2018. Information that DOD deemed sensitive has been omitted.
- Statement by Attorney General William P. Barr on the Passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
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- Three Individuals Affiliated With the Oath Keepers Indicted in Federal Court for Conspiracy to Obstruct Congress on Jan. 6, 2021
January 27, 2021Three individuals associated with the Oath Keepers, a paramilitary organization focused on recruitment of current and former military, law enforcement, and first responder personnel, were indicted today in federal court in the District of Columbia for conspiring to obstruct Congress, among other charges.
- Runaway Star Might Explain Black Hole’s Disappearing Act
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- Departments of Justice and Homeland Security Release Data on Incarcerated Aliens
October 16, 2020Today, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security released the Alien Incarceration Report for Fiscal Year 2019. The data shows that 94 percent of confirmed aliens incarcerated in Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and United States Marshals Service (USMS) facilities were unlawfully present in the United States. Additionally, the report found that nearly 70 percent of known or suspected aliens in BOP custody had been convicted of a non-immigration-related offense, and 39 percent of known or suspected aliens in USMS custody had committed a non-immigration-related offense.
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Al-Thani
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- Trafficking: Use of Online Marketplaces and Virtual Currencies in Drug and Human Trafficking
February 14, 2022What GAO Found Drug and human traffickers are increasingly using online marketplaces and virtual currencies to connect with buyers and obscure the source of payments, according to agency documentation and interviews with agency officials. However, according to the Department of Homeland Security, traffickers continue to primarily use cash. Online marketplaces facilitate trafficking by providing anonymity, connecting buyers and sellers, and allowing a range of payment methods, including virtual currencies (see figure). These marketplaces often use the “dark web,” a hidden part of the internet that users access using specialized software. Traffickers use virtual currencies and peer-to-peer mobile payment services because transactions are somewhat anonymous, making detection by law enforcement more difficult. However, all transactions on a public blockchain (the technology used by some virtual currencies) can be tracked to some extent. Summary of Participants Involved in Drug Trafficking Using Online Marketplaces and Virtual Currency Several federal law enforcement agencies investigate and prosecute trafficking cases involving virtual currency and online marketplaces, including through interagency partnerships. In addition, federal regulators oversee financial institutions’ processes and controls to comply with anti-money laundering requirements, including reporting of potential trafficking activities to law enforcement. State regulations such as licensing requirements for money transmitters and other virtual currency businesses also can help impede trafficking, although such requirements vary by state. Law enforcement and others can use blockchain analytics tools to investigate suspected illicit activity that uses virtual currencies, but these tools can be of limited effectiveness. Many virtual currency transactions are permanently recorded on public blockchains, allowing them to be matched to user information collected by virtual currency platforms that comply with anti-money laundering requirements. However, law enforcement’s ability to detect and track illicit uses of virtual currencies may be hindered by criminals’ use of privacy technology, and by some market participants’ noncompliance with anti-money laundering requirements, according to law enforcement officials and analytics firms. Why GAO Did This Study Drug and human trafficking are longstanding and pervasive problems. Federal law enforcement agencies have noted the use of online marketplaces, such as social media sites and messaging platforms, in drug and human trafficking. Further, agencies have expressed concern about traffickers’ increased use of virtual currencies—that is, digital representations of value that are usually not government-issued legal tender. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 includes a provision for GAO to review how a range of methods and payment systems, including online marketplaces and virtual currencies, are used to facilitate drug and human trafficking. This report examines what is known about drug and human traffickers’ use of online marketplaces and virtual currencies, efforts by federal and state agencies to counter such trafficking, and benefits and challenges virtual currencies pose for detecting and prosecuting drug and human trafficking, among other objectives. GAO reviewed federal agency and industry documentation and GAO’s relevant body of past work; interviewed officials at federal and state agencies and industry and nonprofit stakeholders; and reviewed recently adjudicated cases involving the use of virtual currencies in drug or human trafficking. For more information, contact Michael E. Clements at (202) 512-8678 or email@example.com or Gretta Goodwin at (202)512-8777 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Beam Suntory Inc. Agrees to Pay Over $19 Million to Resolve Criminal Foreign Bribery Case
October 27, 2020Beam Suntory Inc. (Beam), a Chicago-based company that produces and sells distilled beverages, has agreed to pay a criminal monetary penalty of $19,572,885 to resolve the department’s investigation into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
- DOD Critical Technologies: Plans for Communicating, Assessing, and Overseeing Protection Efforts Should Be Completed
January 12, 2021Critical technologies—such as elements of artificial intelligence and biotechnology—are those necessary to maintain U.S. technological superiority. As such, they are frequently the target of theft, espionage, and illegal export by adversaries. The Department of Defense (DOD) has outlined a revised process (see figure) to better identify and protect its critical technologies including those associated with acquisition programs throughout their lifecycle or those early in development. Prior DOD efforts to identify these technologies were considered by some military officials to be too broad to adequately guide protection. The revised process is expected to address this by offering more specificity about what elements of an acquisition program or technology need to be protected and the protection measures DOD is expected to implement. It is also expected to support DOD’s annual input to the National Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technologies, which was first published in October 2020. Overview of DOD’s Revised Process to Identify and Protect Critical Acquisition Programs and Technologies DOD began implementing this process in February 2020, and officials expect to complete all steps for the first time by September 2021. DOD has focused on identifying critical acquisition programs and technologies that need to be protected and how they should be protected. It has not yet determined how it will communicate the list internally and to other agencies, which metrics it will use to assess protection measures, and which organization will oversee future protection efforts. By determining the approach for completing these tasks, DOD can better ensure its revised process will support the protection of critical acquisition programs and technologies consistently across the department. Once completed, the revised process should also inform DOD and other federal agencies’ protection efforts. Military officials stated they could use the list of critical acquisition programs and technologies to better direct resources. Officials from the Departments of State, Commerce, and the Treasury stated that they could use the list, if it is effectively communicated, to better understand what is important to DOD to help ensure protection through their respective programs. The federal government spends billions annually to develop and acquire advanced technologies. It permits the sale and transfer of some of these technologies to allies to promote U.S. national security, foreign policy, and economic interests. However, the technologies can be targets for adversaries. The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 requires the Secretary of Defense to develop and maintain a list of acquisition programs, technologies, manufacturing capabilities, and research areas that are critical for preserving U.S. national security advantages. Ensuring effective protection of critical technologies has been included on GAO’s high-risk list since 2007. This report examines (1) DOD’s efforts to identify and protect its critical technologies, and (2) opportunities for these efforts to inform government protection activities. GAO analyzed DOD critical acquisition program and technologies documentation, and held interviews with senior officials at DOD and other federal agencies responsible for protecting critical technologies. GAO is recommending that DOD specify how it will communicate its critical programs and technologies list, develop metrics to assess protection measures, and select the DOD organization that will oversee protection efforts beyond 2020. DOD concurred with the first recommendation and partially concurred with the second and third. GAO maintains the importance of all recommendations in this report. For more information, contact William Russell at (202) 512-4841 or email@example.com.
- Convicted Sex Trafficker Sentenced to 270 Months in Prison
September 21, 2020The Justice Department today announced that Senior Judge William K. Sessions III sentenced Brian Folks, 45, to 270 months in prison today.