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David Welna

David Welna is NPR's national security correspondent.

Having previously covered Congress over a 13-year period starting in 2001, Welna reported extensively on matters related to national security. He covered the debates on Capitol Hill over authorizing the use of military force prior to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the expansion of government surveillance practices arising from Congress' approval of the USA Patriot Act. Welna also reported on congressional probes into the use of torture by U.S. officials interrogating terrorism suspects. He also traveled with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Afghanistan on the Pentagon chief's first overseas trip in that post.

In mid-1998, after 15 years of reporting from abroad for NPR, Welna joined NPR's Chicago bureau. During that posting, he reported on a wide range of issues: changes in Midwestern agriculture that threaten the survival of small farms, the personal impact of foreign conflicts and economic crises in the heartland, and efforts to improve public education. His background in Latin America informed his coverage of the saga of Elian Gonzalez both in Miami and Cuba.

Welna first filed stories for NPR as a freelancer in 1982, based in Buenos Aires. From there, and subsequently from Rio de Janeiro, he covered events throughout South America. In 1995, Welna became the chief of NPR's Mexico bureau.

Additionally, he has reported for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, The Financial Times, and The Times of London. Welna's photography has appeared in Esquire, The New York Times, The Paris Review, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Covering a wide range of stories in Latin America, Welna chronicled the wrenching 1985 trial of Argentina's former military leaders who presided over the disappearance of tens of thousands of suspected dissidents. In Brazil, he visited a town in Sao Paulo state called Americana where former slaveholders from America relocated after the Civil War. Welna covered the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, the mass exodus of Cubans who fled the island on rafts in 1994, the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico, and the U.S. intervention in Haiti to restore Jean Bertrand Aristide to Haiti's presidency.

Welna was honored with the 2011 Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting of Congress, given by the National Press Foundation. In 1995, he was awarded an Overseas Press Club award for his coverage of Haiti. During that same year he was chosen by the Latin American Studies Association to receive their annual award for distinguished coverage of Latin America. Welna was awarded a 1997 Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University. In 2002, Welna was elected by his colleagues to a two-year term as a member of the Executive Committee of the Congressional Radio-Television Correspondents' Galleries.

A native of Minnesota, Welna graduated magna cum laude from Carleton College in Northfield, MN, with a Bachelor of Arts degree and distinction in Latin American Studies. He was subsequently a Thomas J. Watson Foundation fellow. He speaks fluent Spanish, French, and Portuguese.

Congress had a full seven months to block a rule change for federal courts that lets judges authorize the hacking of digital devices well beyond their districts . But after a September attempt in the Senate to vote on the measure failed, opponents on Capitol Hill waited until the day before the rule change was to take effect to introduce three motions aimed at shooting it down or at least delaying its implementation. They weren't successful. So as of midnight Dec. 1, the change to Rule 41 of...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Four years ago, the Senate Intelligence Committee produced a massive report on how the CIA detained and interrogated suspected terrorists. But that torture report, as it's come to be known, remains classified. Only a censored summary of its findings has come out. NPR's David Welna reports that with the arrival of the Trump administration, that full report may never be made public. DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Weighing in...

Among the many unknowns hanging over this presidential transition: the fate of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. President Obama has sworn to close it; President-elect Trump wants to fill it up again. Obama has been promising the closure will happen since his second day in office in 2009. In February, he repeated that pledge one more time, saying, "I'm absolutely committed to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo." That same day, at a campaign rally in Sparks, Nevada,...

The U.S. and Russia are the world's two mightiest nuclear powers, and yet over the years, they've made deals to reduce their respective arsenals. Just like a marriage gone bad, though, things have soured between Washington and Moscow. Bickering over nuclear issues has increased markedly in recent months, with each side accusing the other of cheating. And that war of words is being matched by actions: Russia, in early October, moved a battery of nuclear-capable missile launchers within range...

It's a strange experience seeing your own passport posted on a pro-Kremlin website . That's what happened to me last month after Ukraine's Defense Ministry got hacked — including the documents I'd sent there to get press credentials. The news site showed a letter from my editor, my passport details and identified me as a high-ranking "American adviser" who was in Ukraine to work on a military radio station in that country. In reality, I was reporting an NPR story on the radio station Army FM,...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency worker, is back in the news. On Capitol Hill, a House committee met in secret today. Members approved a new report about how Snowden leaked classified documents from the NSA three years ago. This report comes more than a year after Congress reined in the Intelligence Agency in response to Snowden's revelations. It also comes as a new film by the director Oliver...

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPyeu4uQVcc Europe's largest joint military exercise since the end of the Cold War rumbled to a close on Friday in Poland. More than 30,000 troops from across the North Atlantic Treaty Organization were there to send a message to Russia. "What we want to do is let the Russians know, and make no mistake about it — you step, even with your big toe, even with your unconventional 'little green men,' into one of our allied countries? To include the Baltic States? We...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The war over government access to encryption is moving to the battlefield on which Apple told the Justice Department it should always have taken place: Capitol Hill. The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee have introduced a bill that would mandate those receiving a court order in an encryption case to provide "intelligible information or data" or the "technical means to get it" — in other words, a key to unlock secured data. "I call it a 'follow the rule of law bill,' because that's...

More than 50 world leaders are attending a nuclear security summit in Washington this week. But Vladimir Putin is a no-show. And, as if on cue, North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Friday. These biannual nuclear summits, aimed at locking down fissile material worldwide that could be used for doomsday weapons, were proposed by President Obama back in 2009, barely two months into his presidency. "We must insure that terrorists never acquire a nuclear weapon," he declared, calling such a...

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As national security has come to dominate the 2016 presidential race, the GOP contenders in particular are being pushed to define where they stand on a contentious matter: how suspected terrorists should be interrogated. Specifically, they've been asked about the currently banned use of waterboarding — a simulated drowning technique the CIA used on at least three alleged terrorists. In a debate on ABC News earlier this month, Donald Trump said, "I would bring back waterboarding, and I would...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: Defense Secretary Ash Carter has a blunt message for his counterparts fighting the Islamic State. The U.S. wants and expects them to do more. Carter meets with those defense chiefs tomorrow in Brussels. The summit is happening as the Syrian regime wages a bloody offensive against rebel-held Aleppo and as doubts are growing about the U.S. strategy there. Here's NPR's David Welna. DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: This...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript DAVID GREENE, HOST: Now, when it comes to American satellites, the United States is getting help from a surprising place - Russia. The White House has sanctioned Russian officials for human rights abuses. The Pentagon is spending money to counter Russian aggression. And yet to launch top-secret military satellites, the Pentagon still relies almost entirely on rocket engines made in Russia. Here's NPR's David Welna. DAVID...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: The U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is the emptiest it's been in nearly 14 years. Fewer than a hundred detainees remain after 10 were transferred last night to Oman. That's the largest group ever sent to a single nation. It's all part of President Obama's drive to close the military prison before he leaves office. Joining us to talk about it is NPR's national security correspondent David...

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: They're called smart guns - weapons that can only be fired by their owners. President Obama is directing the Pentagon and other federal agencies to both develop and promote smart gun technology. Firearms manufacturers, though, have resisted adding these safety features. Gun safety advocates hope that will change with the president's new initiatives. NPR's David Welna reports. DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: In...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee are out with a scathing new report today. It accuses the Obama administration of breaking the law - actually, several laws - when it exchanged five Taliban prisoners for captive U.S. Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl last year. The reports release coincides with the debut of the second season of the popular podcast "Serial." It's all about the Bergdahl saga....

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: In this country, the Pentagon has been looking for new places to hold detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the prison President Obama wants too close. One possibility is Fremont County in southeastern Colorado. NPR's David Welna paid a visit. DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: The town of Florence, Colo. sits on a mile-high scrubby plain framed by the snowcapped peaks of the Rocky Mountains. MIKE PATTERSON: This...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: It took a little prodding, but CIA director John Brennan talked this week about what it's like for the spymaster to be spied on. NPR's David Welna reports. DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: It happened at a daylong conference on the ethics of spying. CIA director Brennan was the leadoff speaker with an ode to the wonders of spying in the digital age. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) JOHN BRENNAN: New technologies...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript DAVID GREENE, HOST: OK, so a big debate here over whether this committee is just after Hillary Clinton or asking serious and probing questions about a tragic event. Last week, Kansas Republican Mike Pompeo, who's on the committee, told us it is the latter. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST) MIKE POMPEO: We have, for the entire time, been focused on solving the riddle of how we had an ambassador murdered, the first one since...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Vice President Joe Biden's decision may be good news for Hillary Clinton, but she'll need to get through tomorrow first. After months of delays and growing speculation, Clinton will testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Four Americans were killed during an attack three years ago on U.S. installations in that Libyan city. The Republicans who summoned Clinton say they want to know more...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: The list keeps getting longer - the list of U.S. government officials whose personal email accounts appear to have been hacked. The latest would-be victim, and perhaps the most surprising to date, is no less than CIA Director John Brennan. The target, it seems, was Brennan's private AOL account. David Welna is NPR's national security correspondent. Welcome back, David. DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Thanks Audie...

Obama's plan to leave 5,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the end of his term means he won't fulfill a promise to remove all American forces from that war zone. While he added the disclaimer, "I do not support the idea of endless war," he also said he's not disappointed . "This modest but meaningful extension of our presence, while sticking to our current narrow missions, can make a real difference. It's the right thing to do," he said. The president did not say how much longer American...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Here's a disturbing warning. The kind of cyber-attacks that have recently hit the government and private sector will not only keep happening. They're going to increase. As NPR's David Welna reports, lawmakers heard that warning today, but they didn't hear many solutions. DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: The heads of the nation's top spy agencies appeared before a rare open hearing of the House Intelligence...

The only American military installation abroad that's unwelcome to its host government is the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A treaty signed in 1934 leases Guantanamo to the United States in perpetuity, for about $4,000 a year. And the U.S. has no plans to leave, despite the two countries having just restored diplomatic ties. Guantanamo Bay — at least officially — is still part of the "Pearl of the Antilles," as the Caribbean's largest island is known. But Cuban officials are...

In hopes that it can persuade Congress to drop its prohibition on transferring detainees in Guantanamo to American soil, the White House is hunting for a highly secure place in the U.S. for some 50 detainees. Labeled as "enemy combatants," they've been held for more than a decade without trial in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, at a camp President Obama has promised to close. Unlike the 52 other captives at Guantanamo whose release can occur as soon as a country is found to take them, these detainees...

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