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Saturday, October 12, 2013


Weekly Address: End the Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON, DC— In this week’s address, President Obama said that Republicans in the House of Representatives chose to shut down the government over a health care law they don’t like. He urged the Congress to pass a budget that funds our government, with no partisan strings attached.  The President made clear he will work with anyone of either party on ways to grow this economy, create new jobs, and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul – but not under the shadow of these threats to our economy.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 5, 2013

Good morning.  Earlier this week, the Republican House of Representatives chose to shut down a government they don’t like over a health care law they don’t like.  And I’ve talked a lot about the real-world consequences of this shutdown in recent days – the services disrupted; the benefits delayed; the public servants kicked off the job without pay.

But today, I want to let the Americans dealing with those real-world consequences have their say.  And these are just a few of the many heartbreaking letters I’ve gotten from them in the past couple weeks – including more than 30,000 over the past few days.

Kelly Mumper lives in rural Alabama.  She works in early education, and has three children of her own in the Marines.  Here’s what she wrote to me on Wednesday.

“Our Head Start agency…was forced to stop providing services on October 1st for over 770 children, and 175 staff were furloughed.  I am extremely concerned for the welfare of these children.  There are parents who work and who attend school.  Where are they leaving their children…is it a safe environment…are [they] getting the food that they receive at their Head Start program?”

On the day Julia Pruden’s application to buy a home for her and her special needs children was approved by the USDA’s rural development direct loan program, she wrote me from Minot, North Dakota.

“We put in an offer to purchase a home this weekend, and it was accepted…if funding does not go through, our chances of the American Dream [are] down the drain…We have worked really hard to get our credit to be acceptable to purchase a home…if it weren’t for the direct lending program provided by the USDA, we would not qualify to buy the home we found.”

These are just two of the many letters I’ve received from people who work hard; try to make ends meet; try to do right by their families.  They’re military or military spouses who’ve seen commissaries closed on their bases.  They’re veterans worried the services they’ve earned won’t be there.  They’re business owners who’ve seen their contracts with the government put on hold, worried they’ll have to let people go.  I want them to know, I read the stories you share with me.

These are our fellow Americans.  These are the people who sent us here to serve.  And I know that Republicans in the House of Representatives are hearing the same kinds of stories, too.

As I made clear to them this week, there’s only one way out of this reckless and damaging shutdown: pass a budget that funds our government, with no partisan strings attached.  The Senate has already done this.  And there are enough Republican and Democratic votes in the House of Representatives willing to do the same, and end this shutdown immediately.  But the far right of the Republican Party won’t let Speaker John Boehner give that bill a yes-or-no vote.

Take that vote.  Stop this farce.  End this shutdown now.

The American people don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their job. Neither does Congress. They don’t get to hold our democracy or our economy hostage over a settled law. They don’t get to kick a child out of Head Start if I don’t agree to take her parents’ health insurance away. That’s not how our democracy is supposed to work.

That's why I won't pay a ransom in exchange for reopening the government. And I certainly won't pay a ransom in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. For as reckless as a government shutdown is, an economic shutdown that comes with default would be dramatically worse.

I'll always work with anyone of either party on ways to grow this economy, create new jobs, and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul. But not under the shadow of these threats to our economy.

Pass a budget. End this government shutdown.

Pay our bills. Prevent an economic shutdown.

These Americans and millions of others are counting on Congress to do the right thing. And I will do everything I can to make sure they do.

Thank you.


Press Availability in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Press Availability
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
October 10, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I know that President Obama was very disappointed to cancel his visit, especially given his personal connection and commitment to the region. But I also know that he believes very deeply in the importance of the relationship between the United States and Malaysia and also in the potential for a relationship in the years to come.

Today, our two nations are really working together in more areas than ever before, in economics, in climate, in connectivity, law enforcement, counterterrorism, counter-proliferation, maritime security, science, education – you name it, and we are doing it and doing it together. We’re very grateful for Malaysia’s leadership on every single one of these issues.

I had the occasion at a couple of the dinners in the last few days and at the ASEAN meeting as well as the APEC and similarly at the East Asia Summit to have long and good conversations with the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Najib. And I’m grateful for the discussions that we had, as well as with the Foreign Minister. And having just left Brunei and the first-ever summit that has taken place between the U.S. and ASEAN, I want to thank Malaysia for its leadership through every single one of those meetings on all of the topics of importance to us. So we’re very much looking forward to Malaysia’s chair of ASEAN, which will take place a year hence in 2015.

I’m also proud to say that the ties between our people are clearly getting stronger. Thanks to the close coordination between President Obama and Prime Minister Najib, today American Fulbright English teaching assistants are connecting to Malaysian students all over the country in Kuala Lumpur all the way to Kuantan. And I know firsthand the importance of that program, because I was lucky to have my daughter take part as a Fulbrighter, and I know how profound the impact of that program can be. In fact, all of those exchanges make a difference, and that’s why we’re deeply committed to them here in the region.

These critical connections are also behind our commitment in expanding our people-to-people initiatives like the Global Entrepreneurial Summit, which I will have the privilege of addressing tomorrow. I think it speaks to Malaysia’s important role in driving regional prosperity that it is holding and hosting the fourth global summit right here in Kuala Lumpur. And tomorrow, when I speak to them, I’m going to have a chance to talk to young people from around the world who are here in order to find ways to pursue their dreams and make their communities stronger and better.

On behalf of President Obama, the United States is really proud to be part of that effort. But we’re convinced that we can do even more to help young leaders be able to achieve their goals. In order for their success – excuse me – and the success of other entrepreneurs, both in the United States and Malaysia, to be as far reaching as possible, it’s imperative that we support open trade and open investment wherever we can.

Today, the United States and Malaysia have a very strong economic relationship. We are Malaysia’s fourth-largest trading partner and we are the largest foreign investor in Malaysian industries. But we believe we can do more. And the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we think is the instrument to help get us there. Prime Minister Najib and I had a very productive meeting with the TPP leaders in Bali earlier this week. And I really look forward to working with our partners in Malaysia in order to finalize that agreement by the end of the year.

We recognize there are always hurdles in each country, but as U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Froman has said, we are prepared to be both flexible and creative in order to help countries be able to meet both the timing and the goals.

So on behalf of President Obama, I want to thank Malaysia for its very committed partnership. I want to thank them for their friendship. And I look forward to continuing what has already been a very productive trip to the region with a dynamic set of meetings tomorrow morning. With that, I’m happy to take a couple questions.

MS. PSAKI: Anne.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. On Egypt, having taken this step on aid, what leverage does the United States still have to encourage the result you want there, a transition to – a return to civilian rule, given that neither the previous elected government nor the current interim military government seem to listen to you so far? What hope do you have that the result will be different?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I disagree with the premise of that. We’ve had a series of constant conversations regarding the roadmap, the road forward for Egypt. And we will continue to have those conversations. And I think the interim government understands very well our commitment to the success of this government, which we want to see achieve. And by no means is this a withdrawal from our relationship or severing of our serious commitment to helping the government meet those goals.

Obviously, we want to make sure that the roadmap results in a constitution that recognizes universal human rights, that respects minorities, that brings people to the table in an inclusive way, and we’re convinced that – and ultimately results in free and fair elections. In our conversations with the Egyptians, they insist to us that that is exactly the roadmap that they are on, that that is what they intend to achieve. And what we’re doing is holding back a certain element of the aid which we don’t believe is relevant to the immediate needs of this government in terms of the roadmap or in terms of their security.

Now with respect to security, with respect to the Sinai, with respect to the peace process, and with respect to the security needs of the region, we are continuing to provide assistance because it’s in our interest as well as theirs and our friends in the region to do so. In addition, we’re going to continue to provide spare and replacement parts and related services for some of the programs that we think are important to continuing military education and training, because that’s important to our interests. And they are grateful and, I think, understand that.

In addition, we’re going to continue to support areas that directly benefit the Egyptian people – education, private sector development. We will be engaged in that. And we will continue to make certain that the roadmap remains a primary goal for the interim government, because I believe they do want to continue the relationship in a positive way with the United States. Now, we will not be providing direct cash assistance to the budget of the government at this moment in time, and we’re reserving delivery with respect to any key large systems like the Apache or M1A1 tanks and a few things like that.

So I think that on the contrary, we’re going to continue. We want this government to succeed, but we want it also to be the kind of government that Americans will feel comfortable supporting and being engaged in.

QUESTION: How long do you think that suspension will last? And also, could I just ask you very quickly to comment on the kidnapping of the Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan?

SECRETARY KERRY: Sure. I think this recalibration of assistance is really geared to try to leverage the outcomes that citizens in American care about enormously, that Egyptians care about equally – more importantly, that the Egyptian people want for their country. And so as we see this roadmap evolve and actually be met, which the Egyptian Government has said, we expect the renewal of certain of those systems as it is deemed by the President of the United States to be relevant to that particular moment and to the relationship. So this will be on a basis of performance, and it’ll be on the basis of what evolves over the course of the roadmap in the next months.

With respect to Libya, I spoke this afternoon with Ambassador Deborah Jones and we’ve been, obviously, in touch with Washington regarding this. It is clearly a situation that is still evolving. The Libyan Prime Minister, to our understanding, has been released. It is our understanding that there has been no statement yet issued as to the who, what, why, and how. And so we’re staying in very close touch, obviously. Our embassy personnel are secure. We’re confident about our abilities to keep them in that security. But as the situation evolves over the next hours and days, we will obviously share more with you. But it is an evolving situation.

One of the things that it really underscores is something that we’ve been really focused on in these last months, which is building capacity in Libya. And we’ve had a number of meetings and discussions about this over the course of the last months. It’s something we and others, our friends and allies involved in Libya – the French, the British, Italians, and others – are all unified in trying to address. And we have hopes that we can continue to do that probably with greater speed and with greater success, but that is a very major focus that this really underscores the events of the last 24 hours.


QUESTION: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. Is this on? South Africa and Brazil both had nuclear weapons programs, and today they’re both enriching uranium. Iran has said that its right to peaceful enrichment is non-negotiable in the upcoming talks. Can you assure Iran’s new government, which says it wants a deal within a year but is facing strong opposition from domestic hardliners at home, that it too will be allowed to enrich like South Africa and Brazil once it comes clean on all illicit activities?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, obviously the question of enrichment is at the center of the negotiations themselves, and I’m not about to negotiate here in Kuala Lumpur today in answer to your question. But we have made it clear to Iran that they can have a peaceful nuclear program as they meet the requirements of the international community as expressed in the additional protocols and in the resolutions that have been passed by the UN Security Council.

Now, there is a negotiation coming up in the next few days. We’ve had private discussions; I’ve personally had private discussion with the Foreign Minister, and I think it’s best to keep those discussions private and personal at this point in time. But Iran knows what it needs to do in order to be able to have a peaceful program, and we’re prepared to negotiate a resolution and believe, as President Obama has said many times, that a negotiated, peaceful resolution is by far his preference. So we will negotiate, but we’re not going to negotiate publicly in the next days.

MODERATOR: Thanks, everyone.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you all. Have a good evening. Thanks.


New Virtual Curriculum Assists Separating Troops
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2013 - The Defense Department continues to assist service members and their families in preparing for the transition to civilian life with a new virtual curriculum, a Defense Department official said here.

During a telephone interview with American Forces Press Service, Susan S. Kelly, director of the Transition to Veterans Program office, discussed the redesign of the Transition Assistance Program and its evolution to include the Transition GPS virtual curriculum on the Joint Knowledge Online portal, or JKO, which became available today.

"We recognize that many of our service members don't have access to brick and mortar classrooms for transition instruction" Kelly said. "The JKO portal is our effort to take all of the redesigned TAP curriculum, which is called Transition GPS, ... and put it into an environment where they can access it whenever they need it from anywhere in the world."

Service members, she said, can improve their job search skills, find out about Veterans Administration benefits, learn how to find and apply to a college or university that fits their goals, or how to start their own business by accessing the Transition GPS virtual curriculum.

An essential part of the virtual curriculum capability, Kelly added, is to support the ability to meet career readiness standards published by the Defense Department.

"Those career readiness standards extend all the way from registering in VA's 'e-Benefits' so they're connected to the Veterans Affairs family immediately, all the way to career readiness standards for employment, where service members have to develop a job application packet, resume, personal and professional references as well as job applications," she said.

Those standards also include a completed application for institutions of higher learning or technical institutions if service members are planning to go to college or receive a certification using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Kelly said.

"There's a whole expanse of career readiness standards that the military members must meet before they separate," she said. "The Transition GPS curriculum has modules that build the skills for the service members to meet each one of those career readiness standards."

The ultimate goal is for the service members to determine what their personal goals are when they enter civilian life and to posture them well to be successful in pursuing those goals, Kelly said.

"The goal of the entire TAP redesign is to get military members career-ready for their civilian lives and to help them do very, very deliberate planning for both themselves and their families to do well as they become civilians," she added.

The best way for a service member to begin this process is to contact the transition assistance program staff on their installation, Kelly said. Soldiers should contact the Army Career Alumni Program, sailors and Marines can use fleet and family support centers, and airmen can begin this process at their nearest airmen and family readiness center.

"That's the first entry point for them to get scheduled for classes," Kelly said. For those who are geographically separated or isolated from installations, she added, the virtual curriculum is there for them on the JKO website.

Kelly also noted it's important that this virtual curriculum is being hosted on the JKO portal.

"That's where service members go for military training now in the joint world," she said. "So we are putting transition preparation training into that military training platform."

The virtual curriculum is a major accomplishment in the TAP redesign according to Kelly. It's the first time that the Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force, as an interagency partnership that includes the DOD and the Veterans Affairs, Labor and Education departments, as well as the Small Business Administration and the Office of Personnel Management, has developed and hosted a complete curriculum for service members on one website.

Kelly noted that the virtual curriculum can also be used by service members who are exploring their options as they think about continuing in the military or transitioning out.

"You don't have to be enrolled in the TAP class to use this website," she said. "Any service member can log in and use it, even years before they make the decision to transition to civilian life."

Preparing for separation is a part of any service member's military career, Kelly said.

"You want to align what you're gaining out of military training and experience with what you want to do as a civilian when you separate," she added.


Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW): Director General's Briefing to the Press

Taken Question
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 9, 2013

QUESTION: The DG of the OPCW said inspectors are to visit 20 sites that the Syrians declared, but the U.S. has said that there are at least 45 sites – have Syrians not declared all of their sites, or are we counting differently? If we are only visiting fewer than half of the sites, how can we characterize this as an “encouraging” start?

ANSWER: According to the September 27 OPCW Executive Council Decision, the OPCW will visit all declared sites within 30 days of adoption of the Executive Council Decision (October 27). The same decision and UN Security Council Resolution 2118 require that Syria permit the OPCW unfettered, immediate access to all other sites of interest. Syria's initial declaration of its chemical weapons holdings and facilities required under Article III of the Chemical Weapons Convention is due to the OPCW on October 27, pursuant to the OPCW Executive Council Decision.

We will continue to assess the completeness and accuracy of Syria's disclosures to the OPCW. As the Syrian disclosure to the OPCW has not been released to the public by the OPCW, we will not at this time discuss its details or our assessment of it.

The fact that just a month ago the Syrian regime did not even acknowledge it had chemical weapons, and now inspectors are not only on the ground but they are overseeing the initial stages of destruction, is a step forward. However, there is more work to be done, and the international community will be paying close attention to whether the Syrian regime is abiding by all of its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 2118 and the OPCW Executive Council Decision. It's critical that Syria's declaration of its chemical weapons holdings and facilities be complete.


Alexander Calls on Industry to Help Set Record Straight
By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2013 - The nation's top cyber commander called on industry today to "put the facts on the table" about the National Security Agency following leaks about the agency's surveillance programs, blaming inaccurate or sensational reporting for congressional failure to approve measures that he said are needed to protect the nation from a devastating cyberattack.

"We need the American people to understand the facts. And it's got to start with what we're actually doing -- not what we could be doing -- with the data," Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, NSA director and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, told an industry conference in suburban Maryland. "Most of the reporting is, 'They could be doing 'A.' The facts are they're doing 'B.'"

Warning that he doesn't want to have to explain why he failed to prevent another 9/11, Alexander appealed to industry to help in light of the damaging leaks in June by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Snowden has been charged in absentia with violating the Espionage Act and stealing government property for turning over secret documents to reporters detailing classified NSA programs, actions that Alexander has blamed for causing irreversible and significant damage to the security of the United States and its allies.

In the time since the leaks, Alexander said, the media have complicated matters through exaggerated or inaccurate reporting.

"Everything that comes out is almost sensationalized and inflamed by what it could be, not by what it is, and that singularly in my mind will impact our ability to get cyber legislation and defend the nation," he said. "And if you think about the numbers of disruptive attacks over the last year, and destructive attacks, and you plot that out statistically, what it says to me is it's getting worse, and that's going to grow."

Alexander pointed to a series of recent destructive cyberattacks around the world, including on Saudi Aramco, a Saudi oil company, where he said data in more than 30,000 systems was destroyed last year, as well as attacks against Qatar's Rasgas gas company and twin attacks in South Korea earlier this year.

"Then, look at what hit Wall Street over the last year: over 300 distributed denial-of-service attacks. How do we defend against those?"

Alexander called for laws that would encourage industry and government to share information about potential threats in real time. "This will become hugely important in the future," he said. We've got to have legislation that allows us to communicate back and forth."

To get there, the general said, the rhetoric on media leaks must change and the trust factor must be fixed, "because we're not going to move forward with all that hanging out there."

In the absence of congressional action, President Barack Obama has issued an executive order promoting increased sharing of information about cyber threats across government and industry. However, Alexander said, the nation's cyber defenses remain dependent on closer, real-time cooperation between the government and Internet service providers and the anti-virus community.

"Our team -- government, industry and allies -- have to be ready to act, and we're not," he said. "We're stuck because of where we are in the debate, so what you could do to help is get the facts. We need your help to inform the American people and Congress about what we're doing."

Friday, October 11, 2013


Statement on Awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 11, 2013

I want to congratulate the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The world will never forget the loss of the more than 1,000 innocent Syrians senselessly killed with chemical weapons on Aug. 21. There could be no more stark reminder why for almost 100 years, the international community has deemed the use of these weapons far beyond the bounds of acceptable conduct.

Since that horrific attack, the OPCW has taken extraordinary steps and worked with unprecedented speed to address this blatant violation of international norms that shocked the conscience of people around the world. Just a few weeks ago, a united international community came together at the OPCW and the United Nations to establish a clear path toward eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons forever. And last week, OPCW inspectors, backed by the full weight of the United Nations, took the first, critical steps toward that goal.

Today, the Nobel Committee has rightly recognized their bravery and resolve to carry out this vital mission amid an ongoing war in Syria. On this occasion, I am also particularly mindful of the more than 100,000 Syrians lost in this bloody conflict, and the need for the entire international community to redouble our effort to bring it to an end and give peace-loving Syrians a country to return to, free of carnage.


International Day of the Girl
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 11, 2013

When many of the world’s 850 million girls go to sleep tonight, they will dream about futures that sadly –tragically–are nearly impossible for them to achieve.

In too many countries, the promise of the next generation of girls is at risk. In too many communities, the contributions of girls are not valued, their well-being is not protected, and their aspirations are not taken seriously.

As the father of two daughters, I know that is unacceptable. Supporting the rights of girls is the moral and just thing to do. And as someone who sits today in the same chair where extraordinary women like Hillary Rodham Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, and Madeleine Albright sat before me, I know that it’s also the smart thing to do. Investing in girls is a critical part of our duty to promote prosperity, security, and peace around the world. Empowered girls grow up to be empowered women. They grow up to be empowered mothers, leaders, and innovators. They grow up to move their communities forward and make the world a better place.

I am proud of the accomplishments of my own daughters and my wife. I want all girls to have the same opportunities they had to get a good education, pursue their passions in a safe environment, and achieve their full potential.

Thanks to a number of global partnerships and programs led by the State Department, like TechGirls and NeXXt Scholars – and great USAID programs like Safe Schools – we have made important progress. Today, more and more girls are enrolling in school in Afghanistan, and fewer and fewer girls are victims of female genital mutilation in Africa. But our work is far from over.

Every year, the International Day of the Girl is a chance for us to reaffirm our commitment to girls’ rights, to celebrate their value to society, and to address the unique challenges they still face. It is a call to action for everyone to build on the progress we have made on global women’s rights. If we heed that call, if we keep faith with the enormous potential and promise of young women, the dreams of our daughters will one day be just as viable as the dreams of our sons.


National Guard Faces the Shutdown
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2013 - National Guard personnel are feeling the effects of the government shutdown and leaders are worried about the readiness of the component, Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, the vice chief of the National Guard Bureau said today.

The Pay Our Military Act has mitigated some of the effects of the partial government shutdown for the Guard, but there are still concerns, the general said.

The act does not allow for drill training periods, unless the drill is in support of an excepted activity such as preparing for an overseas deployment, he said. "Most October drills are canceled, impacting nearly 400,000 National Guard members," Lengyel said. "These drill periods are critical to maintaining the training and preparedness of our citizen soldiers and airmen – nearly 85 percent of our force."

For individual Guardsmen canceling drills means a loss of pay. For units it means degrading the readiness needed to respond to homeland and overseas missions.

Not all units are impacted. "Units preparing for deployment are not affected by the government shutdown," Lengyel said. "The National Guard is now the best-trained and best-equipped force in our history. We are indispensable to both domestic and overseas operations. It would be extremely unfortunate to this nation if our readiness is allowed to atrophy."

The shutdown is delaying some training deployments, the general said, but it will not affect Guardsmen's ability to deploy for actual, real-world missions.

The National Guard responds to emergencies within the United States. Recent activities included providing assistance to local authorities during flooding in Colorado, aiding in fighting wildfires in the West and preparing for storms in the East. Guardsmen and civilians who work for the Guard remain on call despite the shutdown. "During the lapse of appropriations, DOD civilians who support the military in support of the preservation of life and protection of property were allowed to continue working," Lengyel said.

When Tropical Storm Karen threatened the Gulf Coast, the Guard worked with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to authorize the recall of up to 2,200 additional National Guard military technicians to assist with disaster response actions. "The department has now recalled additional categories of civilians as defined by the Pay Our Military Act," he said.

The initial shutdown furlough impacted more than 40,000 dual-status military technicians. These men and women are civilian employees during the week and drilling Guardsmen. "They provide critical support that makes it possible for traditional Guard soldiers to train and operate, such as performing day-to-day equipment maintenance, managing pay and other administrative functions," the general said.

Under POMA, DOD was able to recall additional categories of civilians, leaving the National Guard with nearly 250 dual-status technicians still on furlough. "While this is a positive development, there is still more work to be done in order to get everyone back to work," he said.


Hale Calls Shutdown 'a Tragedy,' Urges Congress to End It
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2013 - The lapse in appropriations that triggered the government shutdown "is a tragedy," and a "colossal waste of time" DOD's comptroller told the House Armed Services Committee today.

Under Secretary of Defense Robert F. Hale described for lawmakers how the department has implemented the Pay Our Military Act, which has mitigated some aspects of the shutdown. The act, passed September 30, took some days for DOD officials to examine and implement.

Hale described the steps the department took to prepare for the shutdown. On September 25, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter issued a memo on shutdown triggered by the lapse in appropriations defining excepted activities. Under the law such activities are related to military operations and safety to life and protection to property.

"Once the lapse occurred we have no authority ... except to follow this guidance," Hale said.

Under the guidance, active duty military personnel continued in their normal status. Commanders and managers identified DOD civilians who worked primarily on excepted activities.

"These excepted civilians continued working after the lapse," Hale said. "All others were placed on emergency no-notice furloughs."

Reserve component personnel on inactive duty were allowed to drill only if the drills were in support of excepted activities such as readying for deployment to Afghanistan.

All told around 400,000 DOD civilians were placed on furlough.

"They will be paid only if Congress passes separate legislation," Hale said. "Military personnel and excepted civilians continued to work and they are guaranteed to be paid. In [the] reserves they can't be paid until after the lapse ends."

This was the situation before the Pay Our Military Act was implemented. POMA is an appropriations act, Hale said. It guarantees pay and allowances for those on active service.

"DOD can now pay active duty military personnel on time and in full, even ... if the lapse continues beyond the active duty payday," he said.

The act also allows pay and and benefits for excepted civilians in full and on time, he said.

It further provides pay and benefits for civilians in other categories, and this allowed the department to call back many civilians "who most directly served the members of the armed forces," Hale said. Lawyers concluded the act did not allow a blanket recall.

Department leaders conducted a review to identify the DOD civilians that fell within the act's purview.

"That review focused on the degree to which civilians aided the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of members of the armed forces," Hale said.

Excepted personnel fell into this category. The department recalled civilians who provide day-to-day support, like health care providers, family support, some repair and maintenance, commissary workers and payroll activities.

Another group of civilians who provide longer term support were also recalled. They include acquisition oversight, financial management, logistics, and a number of others.

"Finally, a category of civilians was identified whose work is highly valuable and necessary ... but it provides less direct support to military members," Hale said. "These civilians were not covered by POMA, and some remain on furlough."

They include chief information officer staff functions, public affairs officers except internal communications personnel, legislative affairs, deputy chief management officer, auditors, and related functions, as well as personnel providing support to non-DOD personnel.

More than 95 percent of DOD civilians who were on furlough were recalled, and most were back to work by October 7th.

Still, the lapse of appropriations is having serious adverse effects on DOD, Hale said.

"Despite our very best efforts, there are already some limited adverse effects on the war in Afghanistan," he said. While military operations are excepted, "we no longer have authority to make ... the Commander Emergency Response Program payments."

CERP funds are used to pay Afghans compensation for deaths or damage, or other events.

"They are key to continuing a responsible drawdown in Afghanistan," Hale said.

Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the International Security Assistance Force commander in Kabul, has expressed his strong concerns on the situation.

"But we have not yet identified a legal way to make these payments during a lapse of appropriations," Hale said. "We're trying our best."

The lapse continues to erode reserve component training and readiness. Weekend drills have been halted. The National Guard has canceled around 100,000 drills in the first weekend; the reserves canceled around 75,000 drills.

Active duty personnel are also hit in training and readiness accounts.

"The lapse forces us to waste a good deal of the public's money," Hale said. "About 400,000 DOD civilian personnel on furlough did not work for four days. That's roughly $600 million in services that we lost in support of national security objectives."


Regulators Encourage Institutions to Work with Borrowers Affected by Government Shutdown

Five federal regulatory agencies encourage financial institutions to work with customers affected by the federal government shutdown.

Prudent workout arrangements that are consistent with safe-and-sound lending practices are generally in the long-term best interest of the financial institution, the borrower, and the economy.

Affected borrowers may face a temporary hardship in making payments on debts such as mortgages, student loans, car loans, credit cards, and other debt. The agencies encourage financial institutions to consider prudent workout arrangements that increase the potential for creditworthy borrowers to meet their obligations. The agencies realize that the effects of the federal government shutdown on individuals should be transitory, and prudent efforts to modify terms on existing loans should not be subject to examiner criticism.

Those affected by the government shutdown are encouraged to contact their lenders immediately should financial strain occur.


Opening Remarks at U.S.-ASEAN Summit
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
October 9, 2013

Well, thank you very much, Your Majesty. Thank you for a wonderful welcome here and for your generous hospitality. And to all of the leaders here, we’re very grateful for the opportunity to be able to meet. We thank the Government of Brunei. Your Majesty, for the first time, I noticed up on the sign there, it emphasizes the first ASEAN-U.S. Summit. And while we’ve had meetings before the leaders, we’ve never had the opportunity to raise the level of the meeting and the level of the discussion to a summit. And we’re very grateful to you for doing so.

A moment where our nations can come together in order to discuss our partnership, the important issues that you just laid out, and the challenges that we know we face. And I know I speak for President Obama when I say we are exceedingly grateful for your hospitality and grateful for this particular opportunity.

I also want to especially thank the Government of Myanmar and President Thein Sein for their hard work as the U.S. Country Coordinator at ASEAN, and I thank them in advance for what we know will be a very productive year for U.S.-ASEAN relations when Myanmar takes the association’s chairmanship in 2014.

I bring you both President Obama’s sincerest greetings and his apologies for not being able to be here. You all understand why, and you just mentioned it, Your Majesty, in your comments, but I assure you that these events in Washington are a moment in politics and not more than that. The partnership that we share with ASEAN remains a top priority for the Obama Administration, and the ties among our nations – I think all of you know this from the engagement that we have on individual basis with you, as well as collectively through ASEAN – that those ties have been strong for decades now. And we know that strengthening those ties on security issues, on economic issues, and more on our people-to-people relationships, are a critical part of President Obama’s rebalance to Asia. That rebalance is a commitment, it is there to stay, and will continue into the future.

I’m also delighted, personally, to be here today, and I look forward to the discussion of the East Asia Summit tomorrow, and to continuing to strengthen our partnership in many, many ways, Your Majesty. I’ll have more to say after the press has departed, but I really want to express President Obama’s commitment to this relationship, to ASEAN, to the value of our meeting here, and we’re very grateful for your hospitality. Thank you.


Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel greets Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon at the Pentagon, Oct. 8, 2013. The two leaders met to discuss issues of mutual importance. DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Hinton
Hagel, Israeli Defense Minister Meet at Pentagon
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2013 - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon met yesterday at the Pentagon to share views on the range of regional security challenges the United States and Israel are facing together, Defense Department officials said.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, officials noted it was the third face-to-face meeting between the two defense leaders in the past six months.
Hagel told Yaalon that while U.S. officials intend to test the prospect for a diplomatic solution with Iran, they remain clear-eyed about the challenges ahead and will not waver from a firm policy of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, officials said.

The defense secretary applauded the announcement by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria has started, the Pentagon statement said, adding that while much work remains to be done, this is a step in the right direction to eliminating that threat.

The leaders also discussed progress on the United States effort to increase Israel's qualitative military edge with advanced capabilities that Hagel announced on his visit to Israel earlier this year, the statement said.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Message from the Attorney General to Employees
~ Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dear Colleagues,

This ongoing shutdown continues to be a very frustrating time for all of us who work for the Department of Justice and those who provide services on contract. I remain particularly concerned about the impact the shutdown continues to have on all of you and your families. Unfortunately, because we are unable to predict when it will be resolved, we are not able to allay all of your justifiable concerns.

In an effort to answer as many questions as possible, we have updated material under the "Information for Employees" section of the Department's homepage: There you will find information about pay, ethics issues, employee assistance programs, unemployment compensation, and the Department's contingency plans.

I also want to reiterate how important each and every one of you is to the Department of Justice's mission. To those of you who are excepted from furlough, thank you for continuing to work through this difficult period, even though most of you are doing so on an "IOU" basis. To those of you who are furloughed, I wish you were on the job furthering the mission of this great institution, instead of wondering when you will be able to return to work and if and when you will be paid. Please understand that I believe every Department employee, whether excepted or furloughed, is essential to ensure that justice is served on behalf of the American people.

As we await a resolution of this shutdown, we will continue to provide information to you as quickly as possible. Please continue to check the Department homepage to receive the most up-to-date information for employees.

Thank you for your service to the American people. I look forward to see you all back on the job again soon.


Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General


Situation Involving the Libyan Prime Minister
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 10, 2013

While we were pleased to hear of Prime Minister Zeidan’s release, the United States condemns the events of the last twenty four hours that captured the attention of the world. Libyans did not risk their lives in their 2011 revolution to tolerate a return to thuggery. If a free people are going to succeed in forging a democratic, secure, and prosperous country with a government based on the rule of law and respect for human rights, then there can be no place for this kind of violence in the new Libya. The United States will continue to work with the Libyan government to build its capacity to deliver security and good governance to its people. In fact, today’s events only underscore the need to work with Prime Minister Zeidan and with all of Libya’s friends and allies to help bolster its capacity with greater speed and greater success.

President Obama's Message to the 4th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | The White House

President Obama's Message to the 4th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | The White House



Remarks With Philippines Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario at Their Meeting

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
October 10, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I’m delighted to be here with my friend Albert del Rosario, the Foreign Minister of the Philippines. And I’ve just had a communication with President Aquino and the Foreign Minister. And we have agreed for a decision that we have made, because of the judgment of our pilots and the airlines, that with the approaching typhoon we are going to postpone the trip that I was going to make to the Philippines.

I want to emphasize the strength of our relationship, the bilateral ties that we have that are literally unbreakable, and my own personal connections to the Philippines. I was enormously looking forward to going back, because I was deeply involved in events historically with the change of government from President Marcos to President Aquino and other ties going back to my days in the Navy even. So I’m sorry not to be there in the next day or so.

But the good news is I am absolutely committed to returning within a month or so. I’m coming back to the region, and I look forward to visiting with our friends in the Philippines. And I’m very grateful to President Aquino and to the Foreign Minister for their understanding of this situation. This is a big storm. Obviously storms can change paths at the last minute. We wish the people in the Philippines safety, and their wellbeing is our concern over the course of the next days. And I’m very appreciative to the Foreign Minister for his understanding. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER DEL ROSARIO: We regret the postponement of Secretary Kerry’s visit to Manila. And this is due to the possibility, increasing possibility now, that there is a major typhoon that could be entering Philippine responsibility.

We, of course, we’re eager to welcome Secretary Kerry. He is an old and dear friend to the Philippines. And in addition to seeing him, we had planned to meet and discuss the many bilateral issues that – well, these are not issues actually, but we have – we wanted to use this as an opportunity to be able to further advance our alliance and our strategic partnership.
We are – nonetheless, we are looking forward to the visit of Secretary Kerry. He has promised the President that he would be coming before the end of the year. So we’ll see him then.

SECRETARY KERRY: I will absolutely. I have a trip coming out here to the region. I think originally we’re going to Vietnam. We’ll be coming to the Philippines, if it works for you.


SECRETARY KERRY: And I really look forward to it. So thank you so much for understanding.


SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, my friend. All right. I will miss this visit, but I’ll be there in a few weeks. Thank you. All right. Thank you all very much.


VA Secretary Warns of Shutdown Impact on Veterans, Families
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2013 - Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki painted a dire picture today of the impact of the government shutdown on benefits and services to veterans -- from a slowdown in claims reviews to the threat of cancelled compensation checks to more than 5 million beneficiaries if funding isn't restored soon.

"All the effects ... are negative," Shinseki reported during testimony before the House Veterans Affairs Committee. "It is an impediment to VA's ability to deliver services and benefits that veterans have earned through their service."

VA's health care system continues to function under advance appropriations provided through fiscal 2014. This means all VA medical centers, clinics and other health services remain open for business as usual.

But cancellation of overtime payments when appropriations lapsed at midnight Sept. 30 has had an immediate impact on benefit claims reviews, Shinseki told the panel. This not only has stalled progress made in recent months toward eliminating the claims backlog, but actually increased it by about 2,000 claims, he reported.

"The shutdown directly threatens VA's ability to eliminate the backlog," he lamented. "We have lost ground we fought hard to take. Roughly 1,400 veterans a day are not receiving decisions on their disability claims due to the end of overtime."

If the impasse continues through late October, Shinseki said, claims processing for compensation, pension, education, vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits will be suspended. "Once mandatory funds are depleted at the end of this month, nearly 5,600 veterans a day will not receive a decision on their disability claims," he said.

Meanwhile, Shinseki warned of more severe consequences in terms programmed compensation benefits, pension payments and educational benefits if funding isn't approved soon.

"VA will not be able to assure delivery of [Nov. 1] checks to more than 5.18 million beneficiaries," who collectively are scheduled to receive $6.25 billion in benefits, Shinseki said. This includes payments to more than 3.8 million veterans -- some suffering the most severe disabilities -- as well as more than 364,000 survivors and more than 1,200 children with birth defects and other conditions related to a parent's military service.

Pension payments, too, will stop for almost 315,000 veterans and more than 202,000 surviving spouses and dependents if the shutdown continues into late October, he said.

A prolonged shutdown also will stop education benefits and living stipends under GI Bill programs for more than a half-million veterans and service members, he reported.

Shinseki said employee furloughs at VA already are affecting operations that directly support services and benefits for veterans.

Exhausting carryover funds that had sustained the Veterans Benefits Administration through yesterday, VA furloughed more than 7,800 VBA employees, he said. That's on top of almost 2,800 employees from VA's Office of Information and Technology who were furloughed Oct. 1, Shinseki reported. In both cases, more than half of the furloughed VA employees are veterans themselves, he noted.

Shinseki told Congress that a piecemeal approach to restoring funding isn't the answer, because VA partners with so many other federal agencies to deliver veterans services.

He noted, for example, his department's work with the Labor Department to promote veterans jobs programs and with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to end veteran homelessness.

VA has weathered government shutdowns in the past. But during the last one, in 1996, the United States was enjoying a sustained period of relative peace, Shinseki said.

"Today we are in the 13th year of war in Afghanistan, providing care and benefits to veterans of that war and the war in Iraq as well," he told the committee. "Members of this latest generation of veterans are enrolling in VA at a higher rate than ever before. They, along with the veterans of every preceding generation, will be harmed if the shutdown continues."

Shinseki urged Congress to resolve the fiscal impasse now, "so that VA and our federal partners on whom we have to rely to do our work can get back to work full-time, fulfilling President Lincoln's call to care for those who have borne the battle."



Scheme Affected U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Mortgage Guarantee Program

WASHINGTON — A former residential sales manager of a Florida property management company was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison today in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, in Orlando, for his participation in a wire fraud scheme involving housing repair contracts for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Justice announced.

Ryan J. Piana pleaded guilty on July 16, 2013, to two wire fraud counts of a 10-count indictment. In addition to his prison sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Roy B. Dalton Jr. also sentenced Piana to pay $147,285 in restitution to the VA.

The indictment, originally filed in January 2012, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, in Rockford, charged Piana, Ronald B. Hurst and Bryant A. Carbonell with conspiring to commit bribery and wire fraud from beginning at least as early as January 2006 continuing until as late as September 2007.  Piana, Hurst and Carbonell were also charged with bribery and wire fraud.  As part of the plea agreement, the United States agreed to dismiss the remaining counts against Piana at the time of his sentencing.

“Steering contracts to a company in return for kickbacks distorts the competitive process and harms consumers,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “The Antitrust Division will not tolerate anticompetitive activity that defrauds the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Piana is a former residential sales manager at West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC, and Hurst and Carbonell are former contractors for Ocwen.  According to court documents, Ocwen managed foreclosed properties under contract with the VA, which guaranteed qualifying residential mortgages for veterans.  Under the contract between the VA and Ocwen, if a veteran defaulted, Ocwen completed necessary repairs and re-sold the property.  Proceeds from the re-sale of VA-acquired properties directly benefit the VA by reducing the cost of guaranteeing residential mortgages to veterans.

According to the charges, Hurst and Carbonell paid Piana to steer housing repair work to companies affiliated with Hurst and Carbonell.  Piana recruited other Ocwen employees into the scheme and paid them on behalf of himself and the other conspirators.  The department said in order to execute the scheme, the conspirators sent, or caused to be sent, various transmissions via wire communication.

Carbonell pleaded guilty to the wire fraud counts on Sept. 21, 2012.  Hurst pleaded guilty to the same counts on Feb. 15, 2013.  Both Hurst and Carbonell entered their guilty pleas in the U.S. District Court in Rockford. Their sentencing dates are scheduled for Dec. 5 and 6, 2013, respectively.

This is the third case involving properties managed by Ocwen under contract with the VA. On Dec. 3, 2010, Benjamin K. Graves, also a former Ocwen employee, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Orlando to wire fraud in connection with the VA contract.  On Jan. 25, 2012, Joshua R. Nusbaum, another a former Ocwen employee, and Andrew J. Nusbaum, a former Ocwen contractor, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Orlando to wire fraud in connection with the same VA contract.

The sentence announced today resulted from an ongoing federal investigation of housing repair contracts performed under contract with the VA.  The investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office and the Central Field Office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division, located in Hines, Ill. 


Former Envit Capital Boiler-Room Salesman Settles SEC Fraud Charges

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that on October 8, 2013, the federal court in Massachusetts entered a judgment against Jonathan Fraiman in a previously-filed case, arising from his alleged participation in a boiler room operated by Edward M. Laborio. Fraiman consented to the entry of the judgment.

On August 10, 2012, the Commission charged Fraiman, Laborio, Matthew K. Lazar, and seven entities owned and controlled by Laborio, including a non-existent hedge fund, (collectively, the "Envit Companies") with raising up to $5.7 million from more than 150 investors through the fraudulent sale of five unregistered offerings. The Complaint alleged that Laborio hired Fraiman in January 2008 to market Envit Capital Multi Strategy Mixed Investment Fund I LP, a purported hedge fund that in reality never conducted any business, and Laborio also named Fraiman as the Director and Chief Compliance Officer of Envit Capital Private Wealth Management, LLC, the purported investment adviser arm of the Envit Companies. Among other conduct, the Complaint alleged that Fraiman raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Laborio by misrepresenting the historical returns and financial health of the Envit Companies, including that: (i) the non-existent hedge fund returned 42.9% in 2006 and 43.7% in 2007; (ii) shares in one of the unregistered offerings pay a 5% to 10% dividend; and (iii) the company had no debt and was cash flow positive.

On October 8, 2013, the Court entered a final judgment against Fraiman: (i) permanently enjoining him from violating Section 17(a)(2) of the Securities Act of 1933 (Securities Act); Sections 10(b) and 15(a)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) and Rule 10b-5(b) thereunder; and Sections 206(1), 206(2), and 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (Advisers Act) and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder; (ii) barring him from participating in any offering of penny stock; (iii) finding him liable for disgorgement of $180,961.42 and prejudgment interest of $24,537.22, for a total of $205,498.66; and (iv) waiving payment of the disgorgement and prejudgment interest, and not imposing a civil penalty, based upon the representations in Fraiman's sworn statement of financial condition. Fraiman agreed to settle the Commission's charges without admitting or denying the allegations in the Complaint.

To settle the Commission's charges in related administrative proceedings that the Commission will separately institute, Fraiman has consented to be barred from any future association with any broker, dealer, investment adviser, municipal securities dealer, municipal advisor, transfer agent, or nationally recognized statistical rating organization, with the right to reapply after ten years.

The Commission's civil injunctive action against Laborio, Lazar, and the Envit Companies, SEC v Laborio et al., 1:12-cv-11489-MBB (D. Mass., Aug. 10, 2012), is still pending.

In conducting its investigation, the Commission acknowledges assistance from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State of Florida Office of Financial Regulation, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).


Hagel Appoints Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2013 - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today announced the appointment of Paul M. Lewis as special envoy for the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The announcement reflects the Defense Department's commitment to implementing President Barack Obama's directive to close the facility, Pentagon officials said.

Lewis brings experience from his previous position as the minority general counsel of the House Armed Services Committee, where he oversaw Guantanamo-related issues, officials said. In addition to facilitating transfer determinations for Guantanamo detainees, he will oversee efforts to transfer third-country nationals currently being held by the United States in Afghanistan, they added.

He also has served as the general counsel for the House Armed Services Committee, and previously served in the Office of Legislative Counsel in the Defense Department general counsel's office, where he became the director. Before his Defense Department appointment, he was the counsel to the chairman of the House Ethics Committee and a senior counsel for the House Armed Services Committee.

Lewis will begin his work at the Pentagon on Nov. 1.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Remarks by the President in Nominating Dr. Janet Yellen as Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

State Dining Room

3:16 P.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  Over the past five years, America has fought its way back from the worst recession since the Great Depression.  We passed historic reforms to prevent another crisis and to protect consumers.  Over the past three and half years, our businesses have created 7.5 million new jobs.  Our housing market is rebounding.  Manufacturing is growing.  The auto industry has come roaring back.  And since I took office, we’ve cut the deficit in half.

I think everybody understands we’ve still got a lot of work to do to rebuild the middle class, but we've made progress.  And we shouldn’t do anything to threaten that progress -- for these hard-won gains have made a difference to millions of Americans.  And, in part, we can thank the extraordinary grit and resilience of the American people; in part, we can thank the dynamism of our businesses.  But a lot of it also has to do with the choices we’ve made as a nation to create more jobs and more growth.  And one of the most important contributors to this whole process has been the Federal Reserve, under the strong leadership of Ben Bernanke.

For nearly eight years, Ben has led the Fed through some of the most daunting economic challenges of our lifetime.  For some time now he’s made it clear that he intends to finish his service as chairman at the end of his term, which is this January.  So, today I just want to take a minute to pay tribute to Ben for his extraordinary service.  But I also want to announce my choice for the next chair of the Federal Reserve, one of the nation’s foremost economists and policymakers -- current Vice Chairman Janet Yellen.

After I became President, I was proud to nominate Ben for a second term.  And while the Fed is, and must always be, independent, I want you to know, Ben, I'm personally very grateful to you for being such a strong partner in helping America recover from recession.

Perhaps it’s no surprise -- as the son of a pharmacist and a school teacher -- that Ben Bernanke is the epitome of calm.  And against the volatility of global markets, he’s been a voice of wisdom and a steady hand.  At the same time, when faced with a potential global economic meltdown, he has displayed tremendous courage and creativity.  He took bold action that was needed to avert another Depression -- helping us stop the free fall, stabilize financial markets, shore up our banks, get credit flowing again.

And all this has made a profound difference in the lives of millions of Americans.  A lot of people aren't necessarily sure what the chairman of the Federal Reserve does, but thanks to this man to the left of me, more families are able to afford their own home; more small businesses are able to get loans to expand and hire workers; more folks can pay their mortgages and their car loans.  It’s meant more growth and more jobs.

And I’d add that with his commitment to greater transparency and clarity, he’s also allowed us to better understand the work of the Fed.  Ben has led a new era of “Fedspeak” and been a little more clear about how the system works.  And that is good for our democracy.

And I have to tell you, as I travel around the world, the job of the Fed chair is not just our top monetary policymaker.  The world looks to the American Fed chair for leadership and guidance.  And the degree to which Ben is admired and respected, and the degree to which central bankers all across the world look to him for sound advice and smart policymaking is remarkable.  He has truly been a stabilizing force not just for our country, but for the entire world.  And I could not be more grateful for his extraordinary service.

And so, Ben, to you and your wife Anna, and your children Joel and Alyssa, I want to thank you for your outstanding service.  Thank you so much.  (Applause.)

Now, as I’ve said, the decision on who will succeed Ben is one of the most important economic decisions that I’ll make as President -- one of the most important appointments that any President can make -- because the chair of the Fed is one of the most important policymakers in the world, and the next chair will help guide our economy after I’ve left office.

I’ve considered a lot of factors.  Foremost among them is an understanding of the Fed’s dual mandate -- sound monetary policy to make sure that we keep inflation in check, but also increasing employment and creating jobs, which remains our most important economic challenge right now.

And I’ve found these qualities in Janet Yellen.  She’s a proven leader and she’s tough -- not just because she’s from Brooklyn.  (Laughter.)  Janet is exceptionally well-qualified for this role.  She’s served in leadership positions at the Fed for more than a decade.  As Vice Chair for the past three years, she’s been exemplary and a driving force of policies to help boost our economic recovery.

Janet is renowned for her good judgment.  She sounded the alarm early about the housing bubble, about excesses in the financial sector, and about the risks of a major recession.  She doesn’t have a crystal ball, but what she does have is a keen understanding about how markets and the economy work -- not just in theory but also in the real world.  And she calls it like she sees it.

Janet also knows how to build consensus.  She listens to competing views and brings people together around a common goal. And as one of her admirers says, “She’s the kind of person who makes everybody around her better.”  Not surprisingly, she is held in high esteem by colleagues across the country and around the world who look to the United States, as I said, and the Fed for leadership.

Janet is committed to both sides of the Fed’s dual mandate, and she understands the necessity of a stable financial system where we move ahead with the reforms that we've begun -- to protect consumers, to ensure that no institution is too big to fail, and to make sure that taxpayers are never again left holding the bag because of the mistakes of the reckless few.

And at the same time, she’s committed to increasing employment, and she understands the human costs when Americans can’t find a job.  She has said before, “These are not just statistics to me.  The toll is simply terrible on the mental and physical health of workers, on their marriages, on their children.”  So Janet understands this.  And America’s workers and their families will have a champion in Janet Yellen.
So, Janet, I thank you for taking on this new assignment.  And given the urgent economic challenges facing our nation, I urge the Senate to confirm Janet without delay.  I am absolutely confident that she will be an exceptional chair of the Federal Reserve.  I should add that she’ll be the first woman to lead the Fed in its 100-year history.  And I know a lot of Americans -- men and women -- thank you for not only your example and your excellence, but also being a role model for a lot of folks out there.

It’s been said that Janet found love at the Federal Reserve -- literally.  (Laughter.)  This is where she met her husband George, a celebrated economist in his own right.  And their son Robert is an economist as well.  So you can imagine the conversations around the dinner table might be a little different than ours.  (Laughter.)  In fact, I’ve been told their idea of a great family vacation is the beach -- with a suitcase full of economics books.  (Laughter.)  But this is a family affair.  We thank George and Robert for their support as Janet begins this journey.

Again, I want to thank Ben Bernanke for the outstanding work that he’s done, and obviously he will continue to help keep our economy moving forward during the remainder of his tenure here.  So we'll probably have occasion for additional good-byes.  And I know that Janet is very much counting on him to give some good advice as she moves into the chairman spot.

But with this, I’d like to give Janet a chance to say a few words.  (Applause.)

DR. YELLEN:  Thank you, Mr. President.  I'm honored and humbled by the faith that you’ve placed in me.  If confirmed by the Senate, I pledge to do my upmost to keep that trust and meet the great responsibilities that Congress has entrusted to the Federal Reserve -- to promote maximum employment, stable prices, and a strong and stable financial system.

I'd also like to thank my spouse, George, and my son, Robert.  I couldn't imagine taking on this new challenge without their love and support.

The past six years have been tumultuous for the economy and challenging for many Americans.  While I think we all agree, Mr. President, that more needs to be done to strengthen the recovery, particularly for those hardest hit by the Great Recession, we have made progress.  The economy is stronger and the financial system sounder.

As you said, Mr. President, considerable credit for that goes to Chairman Bernanke, for his wise, courageous and skillful leadership.  It has been my privilege to serve with him and learn from him.

While we have made progress, we have farther to go.  The mandate of the Federal Reserve is to serve all the American people, and too many Americans still can't find a job and worry how they’ll pay their bills and provide for their families.  The Federal Reserve can help if it does its job effectively.  We can help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to work hard and build a better life.  We can ensure that inflation remains in check and doesn’t undermine the benefits of a growing economy.
We can, and must, safeguard the financial system.

The Fed has powerful tools to influence the economy and the financial system.  But I believe its greatest strength rests in its capacity to approach important decisions with expertise and objectivity, to vigorously debate diverse views and then to unite behind its response.

The Fed’s effectiveness depends on the commitment, ingenuity and integrity of the Fed staff and my fellow policymakers.  They serve America with great dedication.

Mr. President, thank you for giving me this opportunity to continue serving the Federal Reserve and carrying out its important work on behalf of the American people.  (Applause.)


Shutdown Hurts Morale, Top Cyber Commander Says
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2013 - The morale of the cybersecurity workforce is being damaged by the government shutdown, the nation's top cyber commander said here today.

"What these people take an oath to do is to protect and defend this country and our civil liberties and privacy, and we're telling them to stay at home," said Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency.

"How do you get good talent to come to government when you treat them like that?" he asked an audience of cybersecurity professionals during a conference at the Newseum.

The NSA is still performing its most critical functions: terrorism-related missions and those that protect life and limb, the general said. But, he noted, due to the shutdown the agency risks losing some of its most vulnerable employees -- young people new to government service.

The loss of trust in the NSA caused by recent leaks has further damaged employee morale, Alexander said.

"We need the facts on the table so that we can make informed decisions about our future in defending our nation and protecting our civil liberties and privacy. ... We need to inform the debate," he said.

The general said that if Americans understood the oversight and compliance that governs NSA's collection of data, they would realize that the United States is better than any other country in the world at protecting civil liberties and privacy.

"Ours is a noble cause," he said.

Alexander said he believes it's in the nation's best interests to put phone data into a repository in such a way that Americans can be confident that the data isn't being misused – "that you have confidence that the oversight compliance and the ways that we look at it -- the auditing and the controls -- is exactly right," he said.

This type of bulk data collection is necessary to ensure that there won't be another terrorist attack on U.S. soil, Alexander said.

"We made a commitment that 9/11 would never happen again," he said. "And one of the reasons it happened is because we didn't have a database like this. We didn't have a repository that would allow us to connect the dots."

The intelligence community was found lacking by the 9/11 Commission, the general said, and in response it came up with the tools it needed to prevent it from happening again.

Alexander said he is open to the idea of an examination of the oversight and compliance controls on the NSA's collection and use of data. But, he said, it should be done carefully to prevent the nation from a painful re-learning of the lessons of 9/11.

"If we don't know there's a threat, we can't stop it," he said. "Don't put us back to the beginning."


Fisher House Steps Forward to Aid DOD in Paying Death Benefits
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2013 - The Fisher House Foundation has stepped in to aid the Defense Department so families of fallen service members can receive the full set of benefits they have been promised, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said here today.

The Fisher House Foundation and DOD entered an agreement that includes the $100,000 death gratuity payment.

"I am offended, outraged, and embarrassed that the government shutdown had prevented the Department of Defense from fulfilling this most sacred responsibility in a timely manner," Hagel said in a written statement.

In the weeks before the shutdown, defense officials had warned Congress that the ability to pay death benefits to grieving families would run out when the appropriations lapsed.

"The Department of Defense informed Congress that the department would be legally unable to pay death benefits were there to be a lapse in DOD appropriations," White House press secretary Jay Carney said during his daily briefing today.

The issue was not explicitly addressed as part of the Pay Our Military Act. "The president was very disturbed to learn of this problem, and he directed the Department of Defense to work with the Office of Management and Budget and his lawyers to develop a possible solution and he expects this ... to be fixed today," Carney said.

Since the shutdown began Oct. 1, DOD budget officials looked at options to continue these benefits, Hagel said. "Even under the Pay Our Military Act, we found that we lacked the necessary authority to make payments to the families directly," the secretary said.

The Fisher House Foundation offered to make payments to these families from its own funds, and OMB officials determined DOD can enter into a contract with the Fisher House Foundation to provide these benefits.

"The Fisher House Foundation will provide the families of the fallen with the benefits they so richly deserve," Hagel said. "After the shutdown ends, DOD will reimburse the Fisher House for the costs it has incurred."

The Fisher House Foundation is best known for the houses built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers nationwide and in Europe. Families of wounded or hospitalized service members stay at the houses as their loved ones undergo hospitalization for a combat injury, illness or disease.

A total of 26 service members have died since Oct. 1, including five killed in combat in Afghanistan. The $100,000 death gratuity comes from appropriated funds, and DOD could not obligate funds once the fiscal year 2013 appropriation ran out. The department also cannot pay the benefit that provides 12 months of basic allowance for housing, as that money also comes via appropriated funds.

"The department has no higher priority than taking care of our service members and their families," Hagel said. "Congress has responsibilities as well, and it has abdicated them.

"Along with the rest of the department's leaders," he continued, "I will continue to work every day to address the very real impact that the government shutdown is having on our people, and I once again call on Congress to fulfill its basic responsibilities and restore funding for the federal government."


Monday, September 30, 2013
Pennsylvania Man Admits Conspiring with Alleged Members of Organized Crime Family and Others in Fraud Scheme

A Pennsylvania man today admitted he conspired to defraud FIRSTPLUS Financial Group Inc. (FPFG), a Texas-based financial services company allegedly targeted for extortionate takeover and looting by a group led by alleged Lucchese organized crime family member Nicodemo S. Scarfo.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey made the announcement.

Cory Leshner, 30, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in a federal court in Camden, N.J., to a superseding information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He faces a maximum of five years in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 17, 2014.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Leshner and 12 others – including Scarfo, an alleged member of the Lucchese La Cosa Nostra (LCN) crime family, and Salvatore Pelullo, an alleged associate of the Lucchese and Philadelphia LCN families – were variously charged in a November 2011 indictment with a racketeering conspiracy that included acts of securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, extortion, interstate travel in aid of racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice.  The indictment charged that FPFG was targeted for extortionate takeover and looting by a group of the conspirators.  A substantial part of the enterprise’s activities occurred in New Jersey, including communications and the transfer of money into and out of the state.  Cory Leshner admitted that he joined the conspiracy in April 2007.

Leshner admitted that he assisted Scarfo and Pelullo in managing family trusts and limited liability companies as part of the scheme to defraud FPFG.  Pelullo directed Leshner in the use of various bank accounts through which Pelullo received hundreds of thousands of dollars between July 2007 and April 2008 as part of the scheme.  The money involved proceeds of the fraud that Pelullo allegedly received as part of a fraudulent “consulting” agreement between his shell company, Seven Hills Management, and codefendant William Maxwell, a Texas attorney who served as “special counsel” to FPFG as part of the scheme.  The money also involved proceeds received from the fraudulent sale of Scarfo and Pelullo’s worthless companies to FPFG in 2007.  The receipt of the fraudulent proceeds often occurred in the form of wire transfers from accounts in Pennsylvania to accounts in New Jersey.

According to his court statements, Leshner was a law student during the scheme.  Leshner graduated from law school in 2009 and became an attorney in Pennsylvania in 2011.  As part of his plea agreement, Leshner agreed to notify the Pennsylvania Supreme Court of his guilty plea and to accept any disciplinary action brought by disciplinary officials as a result of the guilty plea and sentence.  Leshner also agreed to not seek the reinstatement of his license to practice law while serving any sentence of imprisonment imposed in the case.

Scarfo, Pelullo, and five other defendants charged in November 2011 – including attorneys William Maxwell, David Adler, Gary McCarthy, and Donald Manno, as well as John Maxwell – are scheduled for trial beginning Oct. 28, 2013.  Todd Stark, also charged in the indictment, previously pleaded guilty to providing ammunition to Scarfo and Pelullo, convicted felons.

This case was investigated by the FBI; the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with the assistance of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Adam Small of the Organized Crime and Gang Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven D’Aguanno and Howard Wiener of the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office Organized Crime/Gangs Unit and Criminal Division in Camden.

With respect to the defendants awaiting trial, the charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Hagel Receives Update on Shutdown From Service Leaders
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2013 - The Defense Department's top leadership, including the service secretaries and service chiefs, updated Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel yesterday on the impact of the ongoing government shutdown, Pentagon officials reported.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, officials said Hagel is pleased that most DOD civilians are returning to work this week, and that he thanked the service leadership for quickly implementing the guidance issued over the weekend regarding furloughs.

All of the leaders noted that despite the recall of most civilians and the resumption of many activities, critical programs and benefits remain halted, officials said. For example, they noted, the department does not have the authority to pay death gratuities for the survivors of service members killed in action -- typically, a cash payment of $100,000 paid within three days of the service member's death.

In addition, officials said, emergency funding that supports commanders on the ground and intelligence activities remains unavailable, and service leaders reported that they are further curtailing training for later deploying units -- an activity that already had been reduced due to sequestration spending cuts.

Hagel assured the service leaders that he would work closely with them to address these challenges, and support the service members and families affected by these disruptions, officials said. He expressed his continued concern for the morale and welfare of DOD's civilian employees, who have endured unprecedented uncertainty this year and suffered losses in pay, they added.

The secretary will continue to receive regular updates and review authorities to expend funds during this lapse in appropriations, the statement said.


Readout of Secretary Hagel's Meeting with Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon

Secretary Hagel met with Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon earlier today at the Pentagon for their third face to face meeting in the past six months. Both leaders expressed appreciation for the opportunity to frequently share views on the range of regional security challenges the United States and Israel are facing together.

On Iran, Secretary Hagel noted that while the United States intends to test the prospect for a diplomatic solution with Iran we remain clear eyed about the challenges ahead and will not waver from our firm policy to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Secretary Hagel applauded the announcement by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria has started. While much works remains to be done, this recent progress is a step in the right direction to eliminating this threat.

The leaders also discussed progress on the United States effort to increase Israel's qualitative military edge with advanced capabilities that Secretary Hagel announced on his visit to Israel earlier this year.

Both Secretary Hagel and Minister Ya'alon thanked one another for continued unprecedented levels of security cooperation between the United States and Israel and pledged to remain in close touch.


Press Secretary: U.S. Will Continue Confronting Terrorist Threat
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2013 - The U.S. military can put pressure on the al-Shabaab terrorist organization's leadership whenever it so chooses, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

In a statement, Little said U.S. military personnel conducted a targeted operation the night of Oct. 4 against Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir, known as "Ikrima," a Kenyan of Somali origin.

Ikrima is a top commander in the terrorist group al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida affiliate, the press secretary said. He is closely associated with now-deceased al-Qaida operatives Harun Fazul and Saleh Nabhan, who played roles in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, he added, and in the 2002 attacks on a hotel and airline in Mombassa, Kenya, that resulted in the deaths of Kenyan and Israeli citizens, including children.

The goal of the operation was to capture Ikrima under legal authorities granted to the Defense Department by the 2001 authorization to use military force against al-Qaida and its associated forces, Little said.

"While the operation did not result in Ikrima's capture," he added, "U.S. military personnel conducted the operation with unparalleled precision and demonstrated that the United States can put direct pressure on al-Shabaab leadership at any time of our choosing."

Working in partnership with Somalia's government, the press secretary said, the U.S. military will continue to confront the threat posed by al-Shabaab.

"The United States military has unmatched capabilities and could rely on any of them to disrupt terrorist networks and plots," he added.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Secretary Kerry Meets With Mission Indonesia Staff
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Grand Hyatt Bali
Bali, Indonesia
October 8, 2013


MS. BAUER: Welcome.

SECRETARY KERRY: Hi, Kristen. How are you? Nice to see you.

MS. BAUER: Hi, I’m well. Well, let me welcome everyone.

SECRETARY KERRY: Like an interview here. “How are you?” “I’m fine.” Right. (Laughter.)

MS. BAUER: As many of you know, I’m from Boston, Massachusetts, so it gives me special pleasure to introduce to you the man who represented my state for 28 years in the U.S. Senate. He’s of course our Secretary of State and has led us through this very successful APEC. Please join me in welcoming Secretary Kerry.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Kristen. Thank you very, very much. (Applause.) I’m too far away here. I don’t want to come – I can’t even see you with these bright lights. Am I screwing up? Is this all right? It’s okay, you can do that? Now I feel closer, and this is like I’m talking to people. How are you?


SECRETARY KERRY: That’s fantastic. Isn’t it great that she’s from Boston, Massachusetts? (Laughter.) Yeah, I know. That’s not loud enough – yes, it’s great! I want to hear. (Cheers.) Anyway, I want you to know – she doesn’t know this, but she had the job that my father had at the Embassy in Oslo, Norway.

MS. BAUER: Oh, no, I didn’t know that.

SECRETARY KERRY: See? She was the political counselor there, political and economic affairs. And years ago, when I was in my teens, my dad was stationed as a Foreign Service Officer in Norway for a while, which we loved, and I’m sure you did too. Wasn’t it great? Yeah, it was fabulous.

Anyway, I am really happy to be here. And this also deserves applause - she just got promoted to Minister-Counselor, so that’s fabulous. (Applause.) Really excellent. And she’s doing a fabulous job as our charge, and shortly, Ambassador Bob Blake will be here as we get Washington doing what Washington is supposed to do, which is send people out to work and pay them, right, when they do it. It’s not a bad idea. By the way, did you all order your turkeys, those of you who – (laughter) – I know this is – you got your order in, didn’t you? I'm sorry, but I know you've been here working really hard. Thank you.

I guess it’s hard coming to Bali. Was it? (Laughter.) Whoa. Who’s laughing about that one? I know what goes into this. It’s really a tremendous amount of work, a conference like this. Thank you for making it really easy. Everything just worked so well. This is really one of the best international meetings I’ve been to, and I heard a lot of the other leaders saying how organized they thought it was and how effective. So we’re really grateful to all of you. Thank you very, very much, Embassy Jakarta, for doing so much for us here.

And thank you for – I know it was really hard when you were chosen to come to Bali for a few days, and you groaned and said, “I don’t want to,” right? No. You’re all happy, and I know it’s great. Did you get any time off? Anybody get to the beach? None at all? (Laughter.) We worked – all right.

PARTICIPANT: (Off-mike.)

SECRETARY KERRY: I beg your pardon.

PARTICIPANT: To breathe for a little bit.

SECRETARY KERRY: To breathe only a little bit. Well, thank you very, very much. I mean that. This is a special place. It’s pretty incredible to come out here. As I said the other day when I gave a speech that I worked very hard in 2004 to replace a president of the United States, but this is not what I had in mind coming here. (Laughter.) And I know President Obama very, very much regrets not being able to be here, but for all the obvious reasons, he’s back home and focused on the debt crisis and on the question of the government shutdown as he ought to be.

And I apologize to all of you. I am sorry for all the disruption, I’m sorry for the questions that it raises and that you have to answer about what’s going on in our government and at home, and I am particularly sorry that many of you are facing difficulties in terms of pay and what is going to happen over these next months and big question marks. So my apologies to you for what is not being decided and what is not happening that should be.

Obviously it was on the minds of many of the leaders that I met with and talked to, but I am convinced and I do believe that when we get beyond this, the presence of the United States in this region will be as strong as ever, that we will continue to do the rebalance to Asia. We are focused on this; we worked at length today on the TPP. We had a very strong meeting with very good results, and I promise all of you that your hard work and your devotion and commitment to this effort will pay off in the long run. So thank you very, very much for what you’re doing.

On another level, it is amazing to be in a country where so many young kids run around wearing a t-shirt with the President of the United States on it. It’s pretty amazing, and to have a president who can speak some local dialect and who has the kind of connection that he has here, you can just feel it in my conversations with the President that there’s a pride, and there’s a real sense of connection to the United States of America. And our relationship with Indonesia today because of the work that all of you do, because of the relationship with the President, because of the work that Indonesia has done with the United States in terms of environment, economy, our relationship, our security interests, military-to-military, all of these things are working really, frankly, better than they ever have. I’d say the relationship with Indonesia is as strong as it’s ever been and growing stronger.

So I thank every single one of you for being here. I think we have about 276 Americans assigned to the Embassy in Jakarta and about 1,400 or so local staff. All the local staff, raise your hands, please, those of you who are local. Thank you profoundly from all of us. (Applause.) We’re very, very grateful to you. Thank you very, very much.

So I want you to continue to be the optimists that brought you to this kind of mission in the first place. You’re all people who believe in making a difference. You believe in helping countries to come together, people to come together, bridge the gaps, create stability, build a future for all of us not just as Americans, but as global citizens, and I thank you very, very much for caring about that and being part of this great adventure. I look forward to saying hello to all of you now personally. Thank you very, very much. Look forward to it. (Applause.)