Day: May 11, 2017

Presidential Executive Order on Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure – 5/11/2017

May 11, 2017 – As one of his top priorities, and in keeping with his promise, President Donald J. Trump today signed a Presidential Executive Order on Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure from cyber attacks. This EO will improve network security of U.S. government agencies protecting them from hackers seeking access to U.S. data.  This EO will protect the U.S. infrastructure (energy grid, financial sector) which has been a target of cyber attacks and that can cripple the U.S. economy.  Also, this EO calls for a study of the threat posed by “botnets” used by hackers to overwhelm targeted servers.

 

The EO states that it will hold heads of executive departments and agenies accountable for managing cybersecurity risk to their enterprises.

 

Jake Olcott, VP at BitSight, a private-sector security ratings and risk assessment company, stated the EO provides for much-needed protection of critical data.  Olcott is a former legal advisor to the Senate Commerce Committee and counsel to the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee.

 

“Trump’s cybersecurity EO is smart policy and big win for this Administration.”

“The initiatives being put forth will help to bring the U.S. Federal Government and its agencies into the 21st century when it comes to protecting data and systems.”  

“It’s exactly what we expected from Trump and exactly what cybersecurity needs now.” 

“I think the trend is going in the wrong direction in cyber space.”

“It’s time to stop that and reverse it on behalf of the American people. We’ve seen increasing attacks, and sitting by and doing nothing isn’t an option.”  Jake Olcott

 

This past January, a bipartisan task force chaired by Michael McCaul, R. Texas, released a report with cybersecurity recommendations for the new administration.

 

“A silent war is waged against us in cyber space –if we don’t shape it, it will be shaped against us.”

“Every person in this room is a target and the phones in your pocket are the battle space –and the enemy is winning.”

Source: Fox News

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Presidential Executive Order on Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure

EXECUTIVE ORDER

– – – – – – –

STRENGTHENING THE CYBERSECURITY OF FEDERAL NETWORKS AND CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and to protect American innovation and values, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Cybersecurity of Federal Networks.  

(a)  Policy.  The executive branch operates its information technology (IT) on behalf of the American people.  Its IT and data should be secured responsibly using all United States Government capabilities.  The President will hold heads of executive departments and agencies (agency heads) accountable for managing cybersecurity risk to their enterprises.  In addition, because risk management decisions made by agency heads can affect the risk to the executive branch as a whole, and to national security, it is also the policy of the United States to manage cybersecurity risk as an executive branch enterprise. 

(b)  Findings.

(i)    Cybersecurity risk management comprises the full range of activities undertaken to protect IT and data from unauthorized access and other cyber threats, to maintain awareness of cyber threats, to detect anomalies and incidents adversely affecting IT and data, and to mitigate the impact of, respond to, and recover from incidents.  Information sharing facilitates and supports all of these activities.

(ii)   The executive branch has for too long accepted antiquated and difficult–to-defend IT.

(iii)  Effective risk management involves more than just protecting IT and data currently in place.  It also requires planning so that maintenance, improvements, and modernization occur in a coordinated way and with appropriate regularity. 

(iv)   Known but unmitigated vulnerabilities are among the highest cybersecurity risks faced by executive departments and agencies (agencies).  Known vulnerabilities include using operating systems or hardware beyond the vendor’s support lifecycle, declining to implement a vendor’s security patch, or failing to execute security-specific configuration guidance.

(v)    Effective risk management requires agency heads to lead integrated teams of senior executives with expertise in IT, security, budgeting, acquisition, law, privacy, and human resources.

(c)  Risk Management.

(i)    Agency heads will be held accountable by the President for implementing risk management measures commensurate with the risk and magnitude of the harm that would result from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction of IT and data.  They will also be held accountable by the President for ensuring that cybersecurity risk management processes are aligned with strategic, operational, and budgetary planning processes, in accordance with chapter 35, subchapter II of title 44, United States Code. 

(ii)   Effective immediately, each agency head shall use The Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (the Framework) developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or any successor document, to manage the agency’s cybersecurity risk.  Each agency head shall provide a risk management report to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) within 90 days of the date of this order.  The risk management report shall:

(A)  document the risk mitigation and acceptance choices made by each agency head as of the date of this order, including:

(1)  the strategic, operational, and budgetary considerations that informed those choices; and

(2)  any accepted risk, including from unmitigated vulnerabilities; and

(B)  describe the agency’s action plan to implement the Framework.

(iii)  The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of OMB, consistent with chapter 35, subchapter II of title 44, United States Code, shall jointly assess each agency’s risk management report to determine whether the risk mitigation and acceptance choices set forth in the reports are appropriate and sufficient to manage the cybersecurity risk to the executive branch enterprise in the aggregate (the determination).

(iv)   The Director of OMB, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security, with appropriate support from the Secretary of Commerce and the Administrator of General Services, and within 60 days of receipt of the agency risk management reports outlined in subsection (c)(ii) of this section, shall submit to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, the following:

(A)  the determination; and

(B)  a plan to:

(1)  adequately protect the executive branch enterprise, should the determination identify insufficiencies;

(2)  address immediate unmet budgetary needs necessary to manage risk to the executive branch enterprise;

(3)  establish a regular process for reassessing and, if appropriate, reissuing the determination, and addressing future, recurring unmet budgetary needs necessary to manage risk to the executive branch enterprise; 

(4)  clarify, reconcile, and reissue, as necessary and to the extent permitted by law, all policies, standards, and guidelines issued by any agency in furtherance of chapter 35, subchapter II of title 44, United States Code, and, as necessary and to the extent permitted by law, issue policies, standards, and guidelines in furtherance of this order; and

(5)  align these policies, standards, and guidelines with the Framework.

(v)    The agency risk management reports described in subsection (c)(ii) of this section and the determination and plan described in subsections (c)(iii) and (iv) of this section may be classified in full or in part, as appropriate.

(vi)   Effective immediately, it is the policy of the executive branch to build and maintain a modern, secure, and more resilient executive branch IT architecture.  

(A)  Agency heads shall show preference in their procurement for shared IT services, to the extent permitted by law, including email, cloud, and cybersecurity services. 

(B)  The Director of the American Technology Council shall coordinate a report to the President from the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of OMB, and the Administrator of General Services, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce, as appropriate, regarding modernization of Federal IT.  The report shall:

(1)  be completed within 90 days of the date of this order; and 

(2)  describe the legal, policy, and budgetary considerations relevant to — as well as the technical feasibility and cost effectiveness, including timelines and milestones, of — transitioning all agencies, or a subset of agencies, to:

(aa)  one or more consolidated network architectures; and

(bb)  shared IT services, including email, cloud, and cybersecurity services.

(C)  The report described in subsection (c)(vi)(B) of this section shall assess the effects of transitioning all agencies, or a subset of agencies, to shared IT services with respect to cybersecurity, including by making recommendations to ensure consistency with section 227 of the Homeland Security Act (6 U.S.C. 148) and compliance with policies and practices issued in accordance with section 3553 of title 44, United States Code.  All agency heads shall supply such information concerning their current IT architectures and plans as is necessary to complete this report on time.

(vii)  For any National Security System, as defined in section 3552(b)(6) of title 44, United States Code, the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence, rather than the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of OMB, shall implement this order to the maximum extent feasible and appropriate.  The Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence shall provide a report to the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism describing their implementation of subsection (c) of this section within 150 days of the date of this order.  The report described in this subsection shall include a justification for any deviation from the requirements of subsection (c), and may be classified in full or in part, as appropriate. 

Sec. 2.  Cybersecurity of Critical Infrastructure. 

(a)  Policy.  It is the policy of the executive branch to use its authorities and capabilities to support the cybersecurity risk management efforts of the owners and operators of the Nation’s critical infrastructure (as defined in section 5195c(e) of title 42, United States Code) (critical infrastructure entities), as appropriate.

(b)  Support to Critical Infrastructure at Greatest Risk.  The Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the heads of appropriate sector-specific agencies, as defined in Presidential Policy Directive 21 of February 12, 2013 (Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience) (sector-specific agencies), and all other appropriate agency heads, as identified by the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall:

(i)    identify authorities and capabilities that agencies could employ to support the cybersecurity efforts of critical infrastructure entities identified pursuant to section 9 of Executive Order 13636 of February 12, 2013 (Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity), to be at greatest risk of attacks that could reasonably result in catastrophic regional or national effects on public health or safety, economic security, or national security (section 9 entities);

(ii)   engage section 9 entities and solicit input as appropriate to evaluate whether and how the authorities and capabilities identified pursuant to subsection (b)(i) of this section might be employed to support cybersecurity risk management efforts and any obstacles to doing so; 

(iii)  provide a report to the President, which may be classified in full or in part, as appropriate, through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, within 180 days of the date of this order, that includes the following:

(A)  the authorities and capabilities identified pursuant to subsection (b)(i) of this section;

(B)  the results of the engagement and determination required pursuant to subsection (b)(ii) of this section; and

(C)  findings and recommendations for better supporting the cybersecurity risk management efforts of section 9 entities; and

(iv)   provide an updated report to the President on an annual basis thereafter.

(c)  Supporting Transparency in the Marketplace.  The Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Secretary of Commerce, shall provide a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, that examines the sufficiency of existing Federal policies and practices to promote appropriate market transparency of cybersecurity risk management practices by critical infrastructure entities, with a focus on publicly traded critical infrastructure entities, within 90 days of the date of this order.

(d)  Resilience Against Botnets and Other Automated, Distributed Threats.  The Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall jointly lead an open and transparent process to identify and promote action by appropriate stakeholders to improve the resilience of the internet and communications ecosystem and to encourage collaboration with the goal of dramatically reducing threats perpetrated by automated and distributed attacks (e.g., botnets).  The Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall consult with the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the heads of sector-specific agencies, the Chairs of the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission, other interested agency heads, and appropriate stakeholders in carrying out this subsection.  Within 240 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall make publicly available a preliminary report on this effort.  Within 1 year of the date of this order, the Secretaries shall submit a final version of this report to the President. 

(e)  Assessment of Electricity Disruption Incident Response Capabilities.  The Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, with State, local, tribal, and territorial governments, and with others as appropriate, shall jointly assess:

(i)    the potential scope and duration of a prolonged power outage associated with a significant cyber incident, as defined in Presidential Policy Directive 41 of July 26, 2016 (United States Cyber Incident Coordination), against the United States electric subsector;

(ii)   the readiness of the United States to manage the consequences of such an incident; and

(iii)  any gaps or shortcomings in assets or capabilities required to mitigate the consequences of such an incident.  

The assessment shall be provided to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, within 90 days of the date of this order, and may be classified in full or in part, as appropriate. 

(f)  Department of Defense Warfighting Capabilities and Industrial Base.  Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, shall provide a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, on cybersecurity risks facing the defense industrial base, including its supply chain, and United States military platforms, systems, networks, and capabilities, and recommendations for mitigating these risks.  The report may be classified in full or in part, as appropriate.

Sec. 3.  Cybersecurity for the Nation.

(a)  Policy.  To ensure that the internet remains valuable for future generations, it is the policy of the executive branch to promote an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet that fosters efficiency, innovation, communication, and economic prosperity, while respecting privacy and guarding against disruption, fraud, and theft.  Further, the United States seeks to support the growth and sustainment of a workforce that is skilled in cybersecurity and related fields as the foundation for achieving our objectives in cyberspace. 

(b)  Deterrence and Protection.  Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the United States Trade Representative, in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, shall jointly submit a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, on the Nation’s strategic options for deterring adversaries and better protecting the American people from cyber threats.

(c)  International Cooperation.  As a highly connected nation, the United States is especially dependent on a globally secure and resilient internet and must work with allies and other partners toward maintaining the policy set forth in this section.  Within 45 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Attorney General and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shall submit reports to the President on their international cybersecurity priorities, including those concerning investigation, attribution, cyber threat information sharing, response, capacity building, and cooperation.  Within 90 days of the submission of the reports, and in coordination with the agency heads listed in this subsection, and any other agency heads as appropriate, the Secretary of State shall provide a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, documenting an engagement strategy for international cooperation in cybersecurity.

(d)  Workforce Development.  In order to ensure that the United States maintains a long-term cybersecurity advantage:

(i)    The Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Education, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, and other agencies identified jointly by the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall:

(A)  jointly assess the scope and sufficiency of efforts to educate and train the American cybersecurity workforce of the future, including cybersecurity-related education curricula, training, and apprenticeship programs, from primary through higher education; and

(B)  within 120 days of the date of this order, provide a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, with findings and recommendations regarding how to support the growth and sustainment of the Nation’s cybersecurity workforce in both the public and private sectors.

(ii)   The Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the heads of other agencies identified by the Director of National Intelligence, shall:

(A)  review the workforce development efforts of potential foreign cyber peers in order to help identify foreign workforce development practices likely to affect long-term United States cybersecurity competitiveness; and 

(B)  within 60 days of the date of this order, provide a report to the President through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism on the findings of the review carried out pursuant to subsection (d)(ii)(A) of this section.

(iii)  The Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Director of National Intelligence, shall:

(A)  assess the scope and sufficiency of United States efforts to ensure that the United States maintains or increases its advantage in national-security-related cyber capabilities; and

(B)  within 150 days of the date of this order, provide a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, with findings and recommendations on the assessment carried out pursuant to subsection (d)(iii)(A) of this section.

(iv)   The reports described in this subsection may be classified in full or in part, as appropriate.

Sec. 4.  Definitions.  For the purposes of this order:

(a)  The term “appropriate stakeholders” means any non-executive-branch person or entity that elects to participate in an open and transparent process established by the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Homeland Security under section 2(d) of this order.

(b)  The term “information technology” (IT) has the meaning given to that term in section 11101(6) of title 40, United States Code, and further includes hardware and software systems of agencies that monitor and control physical equipment and processes.

(c)  The term “IT architecture” refers to the integration and implementation of IT within an agency.

(d)  The term “network architecture” refers to the elements of IT architecture that enable or facilitate communications between two or more IT assets.

Sec. 5.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of OMB relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  All actions taken pursuant to this order shall be consistent with requirements and authorities to protect intelligence and law enforcement sources and methods.  Nothing in this order shall be construed to supersede measures established under authority of law to protect the security and integrity of specific activities and associations that are in direct support of intelligence or law enforcement operations.

(d)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE,
    May 11, 2017.

 

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Remarks by Vice President Pence at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians – 5/11/2017

 

The White House
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release

Remarks by Vice President Pence at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians

The Mayflower Hotel
Washington, D.C.

9:24 A.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  It is a joy to be with all of you today to touch on a topic of enormous importance not only in the life of people of faith across the world, but enormous importance to this administration.  And would you join me in congratulating Reverend Franklin Graham for bringing together this first ever World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians.  (Applause.)  
 
Reverend Graham, Senator Lankford, Senator Blunt, Congressman Smith, Congressman Hultgren, leaders of faith in public life across this country and across the world, to my brothers and sisters in Christ.  (Applause.)  I often say when people have asked me over the years what my philosophy is, I tell them I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.  (Applause.) 
 
It is a distinct honor and, frankly, a humbling privilege to join you today at this first-ever Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians.  Let me first and foremost bring greetings from my friend, a champion of the freedom of religion and the freedoms enshrined in our Bill of Rights, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)  
 
And I’m here on behalf of the President as a tangible sign of his commitment to defending Christians and, frankly, all who suffer for their beliefs across the wider world.  I stand here today as a testament to President Trump’s tangible commitment to reaffirm America’s role as a beacon of hope and light and liberty to inspire the world.  (Applause.)  You are here from across this land and from distant others because America was and is and ever will be that shining city on a hill where men and women of faith throughout our history have been able to walk and openly worship their faith in God to the glory of God, and it will ever be true in these United States of America.  (Applause.)  
 
And on behalf of our President, let me personally thank our host today.  This is a man who I, having just recognized once — someone who I’m blessed to call my friend, and the President is blessed to call a friend in Reverend Graham.  And I want to thank all of you Christian leaders from so many faith traditions who have traveled to join us here today.  To Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop Pierre, Archbishop Tikhon, Metropolitan Hilarion, Bishop Anis, Patriarch Aphrem, Dr. Zacharias, Dr. Michael Youssef, Dr. Youssef, and all the faith leaders are here today.
 
Each one of you bear witness to the power of truth to transform lives.  And the people that you shepherd impact every corner of the world.  And it’s an honor to be with all of you today.
 
And of course, let me also say how deeply humbling it is for me to stand today before the courageous men and women who are with us, who have stood without apology for their faith in Christ and suffered persecution across the wider world.  Reverend Sami Dagher, Father Douglas Bazi, Reverend Eliseo Villar, Rashin Soodmand, Cheol Kang, Ishak Shehata, Ishmail, and so many others who are here with us today.  
 
Your faith inspires me.  It humbles me.  And it inspires all who are looking on today.  Would you all join me in thanking the courageous believers who have stood for their faith under withering persecution who are with us here today?  We are honored by their presence.  (Applause.)  On behalf of the President of the United States, I say from my heart to that number, we are with you.  We stand with you.  And we are here at this world’s summit because of you.
 
The Bible tells us: “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  And those of you gathered here today are emblematic of millions across the world.  You’ve persevered through the crucible of persecution.  You refused to be conformed to this world.  You have chosen instead to be counted with those outside the city gate for your faith.  And by your life, you bear witness to the truth that brings us together here at this summit.
 
The reality is, across the wider world, the Christian faith is under siege.  Throughout the world, no people of faith today face greater hostility or hatred than the followers of Christ.  In more than 100 countries spread to every corner of the globe –- from Iran to Eritrea, Nigeria to North Korea –- over 215 million Christians confront intimidation, imprisonment, forced conversion, abuse, assault, or worse, for holding to the truths of the Gospel.  And nowhere is this onslaught against our faith more evident than in the very ancient land where Christianity was born. 
 
Two millennia ago, the Disciples of Christ, the forefathers of our faith, fanned out from Israel in every direction to bring the good news that we proclaim across the globe to this day.  And in the valleys of Syria, Palestine, the plains of Nineveh and the Nile, on the banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates, they planted seeds of belief.  They watered them with their sacrifice and their courage.  They blossomed into fruit, and have borne fruit for the Gospel ever since. 
 
The Christian communities where the message of our Lord was first uttered and embraced today, though, are often the targets of unspeakable atrocity.  In Egypt, just recently, we saw bombs explode in churches in the very midst of the celebration of Palm Sunday.  A day of hope was transformed into tragedy.  I was just this weekend with a pastor who — from Egypt who spoke of the images that day, of seeing the palms the people carried into church on the ground, marked with the blood of the injured.  
 
In Iraq, at the hands of extremists, we’ve actually seen monasteries demolished, priests and monks beheaded, and the two-millennia-old Christian tradition in Mosul virtually extinguished overnight.  In Syria, we see ancient communities burned to the ground.  We see believers tortured for confessing Christ, and women and children sold into the most terrible form of human slavery.
 
Know today with assurance that President Trump sees these crimes for what they are: vile acts of persecution animated by hatred — hatred for the Gospel of Christ.  And so too does the President know those who perpetrate these crimes.  They are them the embodiment of evil in our time.  He calls them by name — radical Islamic terrorists.  (Applause.)  
 
From al Qaeda to al Shabaab, from Boko Haram to the Taliban, these extremist groups seek to stamp out all religions that are not their own, or even a version of their own that they approve.  And believers from every background have suffered grievously at their hands.  And this summit is about calling the attention to the world to those tragic circumstances.
 
The practitioners of terror harbor a special hatred for the followers of Christ, and none more so than the barbarians known as ISIS.  That brutal regime shows a savagery, frankly, unseen in the Middle East since the Middle Ages.  And I believe ISIS is guilty of nothing short of genocide against people of the Christian faith, and it is time the world called it by name.  (Applause.)  
 
Now, Christianity faces unprecedented threats in the land where it was given life, its creed in an exodus unrivaled since the days of Moses in some communities.  In Syria, the Christian population has plummeted from one-and-a-quarter million to only 500,000 in just the past six years.  In Iraq, followers of Christ have fallen by 80 percent in the past decade and a half due to the violence of extremism and acts against Christian communities.
 
But you know, it wasn’t always like this.  I saw it firsthand in 2004, shortly after the end of initial combat operations in Operation: Iraqi Freedom.  I traveled to al-Basrah in Iraq.  It was my first time overseas and in that part of the world.  And I’ll never forget, we met with local leaders — political leaders and religious leaders — our small delegation of congressmen.  
 
And there I witnessed something I’ll never forget.  I saw the local imam standing in his traditional apparel, and then as the local bishop arrived I saw the two of them embrace warmly, and began to speak with one another in animated ways.  And the translator who was with me said that they were speaking about their families.  The imam was expressing the appreciation that the bishop had expressed for condolences for the loss in their community.  And there was warm affection between them.  
 
I turned to the State Department official who was traveling with us and said — not knowing, I said, how long has there been a Christian church in al-Basrah?  And he smiled and said, about 1,500 years.  (Laughter.)  It’s a community of common purpose and affection.  And it can be that way again.
 
Our brother and sisters in faith, I can assure you are being carried by the prayers of the faithful across this nation and across the world.  You have the prayers of our President and all the American people.  And the Old Book says, not be anxious about anything but in every form of prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your request to God and the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
 
So know those of you that stare persecution in the face every day in distant lands, you have the prayers of the American people, prayers of my family, and you have the prayers of the President of the United States.
 
The suffering of Christians in the Middle East has stirred America to act, and it brings me here today.  President Trump rightly said not long ago that — of the Christian church, “nobody has been treated worse in the Middle East.”  He’s made it clear that America will stand by followers of Christ in this hour of need.  Our administration is fully committed in bringing relief and comfort to believers not only across the Middle East but across the world.  This President knows the terrorists will not stop until we stop them.  And under President Donald Trump, we will stop them.  (Applause.) 
 
In President Trump, we not only have a leader who calls our enemy by name, we have a President who is confronting those who commit terror no matter the home or hut or cave in which they hide.  In President Trump, I can promise you the armed forces of the United States of America, working with our allies in the region in Iraq and Afghanistan — we will not rest, we will not relent until we hunt down and destroy ISIS at its source.  (Applause.) 
 
Because of the action of President Donald Trump, ISIS is already on the run.  Progress in Mosul is tangible.  But the fight goes on.  And I would say to each of you, persevere in prayer for those who wear the uniform and who are in this fight.  Carry them in your prayers.
 
I was out at Walter Reed Hospital not long ago with one of our servicemembers who had been injured been Mosul.  And like all of our courageous men and women, the only thing he wanted to do was get better and get back and fight.  So carry them in your prayers, the effective and fervent prayer of a righteous people avail of — much.  We ask you to avail yourselves to the opportunity to remember our armed forces as they fight for our freedom across the world.
 
And rest assured, in the Middle East and North Africa, anywhere terror strikes, America stands with those who are targeted and tormented for their belief, whether they’re Christian, Yazidi, Druzes, Shia, Sunni, or any other creed.  The President’s commitment to protecting people of faith also will not end with the elimination of ISIS or the eradication of terror.  Under President Donald Trump, America will continue to condemn persecution of any kind, of any faith, any place, any time.  We will stand against it with our ideals and with all our might.  
 
The freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience is at the very heart of who we are as Americans.  In a very real sense, America was founded by people who had the courage to cross the Atlantic, motivated in so many cases to come here so that they might have that freedom of religion.
 
Truth is, today, for all the prosperity of the freedom of faith in America and other free societies, today, according to the Pew Center, nearly 80 percent of the human family lives in places where restrictions on religion are either “high” or “very high.”  It’s a five-percent increase in a single year.
 
Too many nations let the mob trample on the rights of the minority.  Still more prefer the coercion of the state to conviction of the soul.  And the limitations placed on people of belief have become too numerous to count.  They range from violence to vandalism — forced conversion to crush free speech, blasphemy laws to building codes, to detainment, to death.
 
Across the wider world, Christians face this and more.  But to be clear, adherents of other religions across the world have not been spared.  And we will speak for them and pray for them as well.  For as history attests, persecution of one faith is ultimately the persecution of all faiths.  (Applause.) 
 
President Trump will continue to stand without apology to protect this fundamental freedom, not just for our people but stand for it in the world.  Since the founding of our nation, America has stood for the proposition that the right to believe and the right to act on one’s beliefs is the right of all peoples at all times.  Protecting and promoting religious freedom is a foreign policy priority of the Trump administration.  (Applause.)  
 
Under President Donald Trump, America will continue to stand for religious freedom of all people, of all faiths, across the world.  And I believe that all God’s children, no matter their country or their creed, can know with confidence that God will continue to guide this nation, to play our unique role on behalf of freedom in the world.  So have confidence.
 
When I first ran for office back in 1999 — okay, when I first ran successfully for office — (laughter) — my wife presented me with a framed verse.  It hung over our mantle for 12 years when I served in the Congress of the United States.  And it hung over the mantle of the Governor’s Residence in Indiana.  Now it hangs over the mantle in the home of the Vice President of the United States of America.  
 
It simply reads some ancient words people of faith have clung to throughout the millennia.  And as we reflect on the great challenges at this world summit today that believers Christ face across the globe, I think we do well to claim this promise again.  It simply reads, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope, and a future.”
 
True words when they were first spoken by the prophet, every bit as true today.  And so I want to encourage all of you today, fellow believers in Christ, cling to one another in these challenging times.  Know that America stands with you and will labor alongside.  But be confident because in the midst of it all, he knows the plans he has for us.
 
And even as history records, even in times of persecution, this church has prospered, it’s grown, it’s had hope and a future.  And with your continued courage and faith, and with the strong and unwavering support of America and its courageous President, Donald Trump, I know that future is bright indeed, now and in eternity.
 
Thank you very much.  May God bless your ministries in this land and around the world.  God bless you all and these United States of America.  (Applause.) 
 
END 
9:47 A.M. EDT

5/11/2017 – Sarah Huckabee Sanders Press Briefing from the White House

 

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