Ned Price, Department Spokesperson
The United States is deeply concerned by Guatemalan Attorney General Consuelo Porras’ continued, brazen attacks on Guatemala’s justice system through politically motivated arrests and detentions of current and former public servants fighting corruption. The reports of repeated, uncommon delays in arraignment hearings, the withholding of information to defense counsels, refusals to hold hearings publicly, and leaks of sealed case details to online entities raise serious concerns regarding the fairness of these proceedings. In addition to the arrest of at least six former and current anti-corruption prosecutors, other prosecutors have been forced to flee the country and efforts continue to remove the immunity of additional anti-corruption judges and prosecutors. We are also alarmed that procedural delays often place public servants in the same facilities with those they have helped investigate or convict, leading to serious risks to their safety.
The United States calls on the Government of Guatemala to respect the human rights of all individuals, including by guaranteeing fair trials and ensuring the personal safety and fair and transparent treatment of all justice sector actors. The Attorney General’s efforts to target anticorruption and other prosecutors follow a disturbing trend of corruption and the weakening of democratic institutions and processes in Guatemala.
- Justice Department Settles with Amtrak to Resolve Disability Discrimination Across its Intercity Rail System
December 2, 2020The Justice Department today announced that it reached an agreement with Amtrak, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, to resolve the department’s findings of disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the agreement Amtrak will fix inaccessible stations and pay $2.25 million to victims hurt by its inaccessible stations.
- Secretary Michael R. Pompeo and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena at a Press Availability
October 28, 2020
- Botswana National Day
September 30, 2021
- Elections in Ethiopia
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September 26, 2020Do not travel to [Read More…]
- Rip crew gets significant sentences for multiple violent crimes
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- Secretary Antony J. Blinken with George Stephanopoulos of ABC’s Good Morning America
February 16, 2022
- Defense Management: Improved Planning, Training, and Interagency Collaboration Could Strengthen DOD’s Efforts in Africa
August 25, 2021When the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) became fully operational in 2008, it inherited well over 100 activities, missions, programs, and exercises from other Department of Defense (DOD) organizations. AFRICOM initially conducted these inherited activities with little change. However, as AFRICOM has matured, it has begun planning and prioritizing activities with its four military service components, special operations command, and task force. Some activities represent a shift from traditional warfighting, requiring collaboration with the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, and other interagency partners. GAO’s prior work has identified critical steps and practices that help agencies to achieve success. For this report, GAO was asked to assess AFRICOM in five areas with respect to activity planning and implementation. To do so, GAO analyzed DOD and AFRICOM guidance; observed portions of AFRICOM activities; interviewed officials in Europe and Africa; and obtained perspectives from interagency officials, including those at 22 U.S. embassies in Africa.AFRICOM has made progress in developing strategies and engaging interagency partners, and could advance DOD’s effort to strengthen the capacity of partner nations in Africa. However, AFRICOM still faces challenges in five areas related to activity planning and implementation. Overcoming these challenges would help AFRICOM with future planning, foster stability and security through improved relationships with African nations, and maximize its effect on the continent. (1) Strategic Planning. AFRICOM has created overarching strategies and led planning meetings, but many specific plans to guide activities have not yet been finalized. For example, AFRICOM has developed a theater strategy and campaign plan but has not completed detailed plans to support its objectives. Also, some priorities of its military service components, special operations command, and task force overlap or differ from each other and from AFRICOM’s priorities. Completing plans will help AFRICOM determine whether priorities are aligned across the command and ensure that efforts are appropriate, complementary, and comprehensive. (2) Measuring Effects. AFRICOM is generally not measuring long-term effects of activities. While some capacity-building activities appear to support its mission, federal officials expressed concern that others–such as sponsoring a news Web site in an African region sensitive to the military’s presence–may have unintended effects. Without assessing activities, AFRICOM lacks information to evaluate their effectiveness, make informed future planning decisions, and allocate resources. (3) Applying Funds. Some AFRICOM staff have difficulty applying funding sources to activities. DOD has stated that security assistance efforts are constrained by a patchwork of authorities. Limited understanding of various funding sources for activities has resulted in some delayed activities, funds potentially not being used effectively, and African participants being excluded from some activities. (4) Interagency Collaboration. AFRICOM has been coordinating with partners from other federal agencies. As of June 2010, AFRICOM had embedded 27 interagency officials in its headquarters and had 17 offices at U.S. embassies in Africa. However, the command has not fully integrated interagency perspectives early in activity planning or leveraged some embedded interagency staff for their expertise. (5) Building Expertise. AFRICOM staff have made some cultural missteps because they do not fully understand local African customs and may unintentionally burden embassies that must respond to AFRICOM’s requests for assistance with activities. Without greater knowledge of these issues, AFRICOM may continue to face difficulties maximizing resources with embassy personnel and building relations with African nations. GAO recommends that AFRICOM complete its strategic plans, conduct long-term activity assessments, fully integrate interagency personnel into activity planning, and develop training to build staff expertise. DOD agreed with the recommendations.
- Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks at Announcement of Pattern or Practice Investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department
April 21, 2021Good morning. Like so many of you, I have closely watched the events in Minnesota. Although the state’s prosecution was successful, I know that nothing can fill the void that the loved ones of George Floyd have felt since his death. My heart goes out to them and to all those who have experienced similar loss.
- Senior Advisor Hochstein’s Trip to Israel
November 6, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
- Statement from Attorney General William P. Barr on the Resignation of Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best
August 11, 2020Attorney General William P. Barr issued the following statement in response to the resignation of Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best:
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong Before Their Meeting
February 13, 2022
- Ongoing Protests in Nigeria
October 22, 2020
- Security Force Assistance: More Detailed Planning and Improved Access to Information Needed to Guide Efforts of Advisor Teams in Afghanistan
August 24, 2021What GAO FoundDOD and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have defined the mission and broad goals for Security Force Assistance (SFA) advisor teams; however, teams varied in the extent to which their approaches for developing their Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) units identified activities based on specific objectives or end states that were clearly linked with established goals. SFA guidance states that to be successful, advisors must have an end or goal in mind, and establish objectives that support higher-command plans. Theater commanders have outlined goals aimed at strengthening specific capabilities such as logistics, and it is largely left to the teams to then develop their approach for working with their counterparts. GAO found some advisor teams had developed structured advising approaches drawing from these goals, such as identifying monthly objectives and milestones for their team. Other teams GAO met with used less structured approaches, such as relying on interactions with ANSF counterparts to identify priorities and using this input to develop activities on an ad hoc basis, rather than as part of a longer-term, more structured approach to achieve broad goals. Officials from several teams stated that the guidance they received lacked specificity regarding desired end states for the development of their ANSF counterpart units. Without a more structured approach with clear linkages between end states, objectives, and milestones that are in support of broad goals for ANSF units, theater commanders cannot be assured that the advisor team activities are making progress toward these goals.The Army and Marine Corps have been able to fill requests for SFA advisor teams, using various approaches such as tasking non-deployed brigades to form advisor teams or creating teams using personnel already deployed in Afghanistan. According to Army and Marine Corps officials, the ability to substitute an individual at one rank above or below the request has helped the services meet rank and skill requirements. The Army’s reliance on brigades to provide a portion of their personnel to form advisor teams has enabled them to meet requirements but resulted in leaving large numbers of personnel at the brigades’ home stations. To manage these large rear detachments, brigades undertook significant planning to ensure that enough stay-behind leadership existed to maintain a sufficient command structure and provide certain training.The Army and Marine Corps have developed training programs for SFA advisor teams, but teams varied in the extent to which they had specific information to help prepare them for their mission prior to deployment. SFA guidance states that an in-depth understanding of the operational environment and of foreign security force capabilities is critical to planning and conducting effective SFA. Advisor teams may access such information from a variety of sources such as conducting video teleconferences with the teams they will replace, using secure networks to gather information, or sending personnel on predeployment site surveys, although teams varied in the extent to which they were actually able to gain access to these sources. For example, GAO found that while teams had access to a certain secure network at training sites, only some had access at home station, enabling them to shape their training and mission analysis earlier in predeployment training or after training but prior to deploying. Having limited access to this information prior to arriving in Afghanistan may result in advisor teams needing more time after deploying to maximize their impact as advisors.Why GAO Did This StudyISAF’s mission in Afghanistan has shifted from a combat role to focus more on preparing ANSF units to assume lead security responsibility by the end of 2014. A key element in advising and assisting the ANSF is SFA advisor teams, provided by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. A House Armed Services Committee report accompanying its version of the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act directed GAO to review DOD’s establishment and use of SFA advisor teams. Specifically, GAO evaluated the extent to which (1) DOD, in conjunction with ISAF, has defined SFA advisor team missions, goals, and objectives; (2) the Army and Marine Corps have been able to provide teams; and (3) the Army and Marine Corps have developed programs to train teams for their specific missions. GAO reviewed doctrine and guidance, analyzed advisor requirements, reviewed training curricula, and interviewed Army, Marine Corps, theater command, and SFA advisor team officials in the U.S. and Afghanistan.
- Justice Department, EPA and Texas Settle with DuPont and PMNA and Require Action to Address Violations of Waste, Water and Air Environmental Laws at Texas Facility
October 14, 2021The U.S. Department of Justice, the Eastern District of Texas, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announced a settlement with E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) and Performance Materials NA, Inc. (PMNA) to resolve alleged violations of hazardous waste, air and water environmental laws at the PMNA Sabine River chemical manufacturing facility in Orange, Texas.
- United States Reaches Agreement to Protect New Orleans Waterways and Lake Pontchartrain
September 29, 2020Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice announced a settlement with the Churchill Downs Louisiana Horseracing Company LLC, d/b/a Fair Grounds Corporation (Fair Grounds) that will resolve years of Clean Water Act (CWA) violations at its New Orleans racetrack. Under the settlement, Fair Grounds will eliminate unauthorized discharges of manure, urine and process wastewater through operational changes and construction projects at an estimated cost of $5,600,000. The company also will pay a civil penalty of $2,790,000, the largest ever paid by a concentrated animal feeding operation in a CWA matter.
- Serbia National Day
February 15, 2022
- Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Justice
July 7, 2021What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified 18 priority recommendations for the Department of Justice (DOJ). Since then, DOJ has implemented nine of those recommendations by, among other things, improving the accuracy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) face recognition capabilities and the public’s understanding of how the FBI uses and protects personal information, assessing its progress in its efforts to more efficiently handle FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints, developing better ways to assess its ability to combat illicit opioids, better addressing immigration judge staffing needs, and overseeing implementation of an electronic-filing system for immigration courts. In June 2021, GAO identified three additional priority recommendations for DOJ, bringing the total number to 12. The 12 recommendations fall into the following areas: Efforts to combat illicit opioid abuse. Federal prison system. FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints. Immigration courts. Cybersecurity. Improper payments. DOJ’s continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations. Why GAO Did This Study Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015, GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations. For more information, contact Charles M. Johnson, Jr. at (202) 512-8777 or email@example.com.
- Designations of Four PRC and Hong Kong Officials Threatening the Peace, Security, and Autonomy of Hong Kong
November 9, 2020
- Founder of Russian Bank Sentenced for Felony Tax Conviction Arising from Scheme to Evade Exit Tax while Renouncing his U.S. Citizenship
October 29, 2021The founder of a Russian bank was sentenced today for his felony conviction for filing a false tax return. As required under his plea agreement, prior to sentencing, Oleg Tinkov, aka Oleg Tinkoff, paid $508,936,184, more than double what he had sought to escape paying to the U.S. Treasury through a scheme to renounce his U.S. citizenship and conceal from the IRS large stock gains that he knew were reportable. This includes $248,525,339 in taxes, statutory interest on that tax and a nearly $100 million fraud penalty. Tinkov was additionally fined $250,000, which is the maximum allowed by statute, and sentenced to time served and one year of supervised release.