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.

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Middle East
6:19 am
Thu July 23, 2015

U.S. Defense Secretary Makes Unannounced Visit To Iraq

Originally published on Fri July 24, 2015 11:32 am

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National Security
5:41 am
Wed July 22, 2015

After Iran Nuclear Deal, U.S. Defense Secretary Reassures Mideast Allies

Originally published on Wed July 22, 2015 7:47 am

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National Security
4:03 pm
Fri July 17, 2015

In Wake Of Iran Deal, Defense Secretary Embarks On Middle East Tour

Originally published on Fri July 17, 2015 7:39 pm

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US News
6:26 pm
Thu July 9, 2015

Russia Poses 'Greatest Threat' To U.S., Gen. Dunford Tells Senate Panel

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Parallels
4:43 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

In Data Breach, Reluctance To Point The Finger At China

Adm. Michael Rogers, NSA director and head of the U.S. Cyber Command, has avoided singling out China for blame in the OPM hack, which may affect as many as 18 million federal workers.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 6:35 pm

Adm. Michael Rogers is among the American officials most likely to know which country perpetrated the Office of Personnel Management's massive data breach, possibly the biggest hack ever of the U.S. government. He's not only director of the National Security Agency, but also heads the U.S. Cyber Command.

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National Security
5:25 pm
Tue June 2, 2015

Senate Advances USA Freedom Act, After Republican Leaders Fail To Amend Bill

Originally published on Tue June 2, 2015 6:35 pm

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Parallels
5:42 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

The Man Who Keeps Tabs On U.S. Money Spent In Afghanistan

John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, testifies on Capitol Hill last June. Sopko says the Afghans are still having trouble managing the money the U.S. sends to the country. The U.S. has spent $110 billion on Afghanistan's reconstruction since 2002.
Charles Dharapak ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Fri May 15, 2015 2:46 pm

John Sopko, whose job is to watch over U.S. government spending in Afghanistan, says it's not his job to be a cheerleader — it's to speak truth to power.

"I am often the bringer of bad news to people. Or at least that's what some people think," he says.

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National Security
7:59 am
Sat May 2, 2015

Citing Religious Beliefs, Muslim Gitmo Inmates Object To Female Guards

A shackled detainee is transported by guards, including a female soldier, at Camp Delta detention center, Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba, in this photo from December 2006.
Brennan Linsley AP

Originally published on Sun May 3, 2015 8:08 pm

A clash between Muslim inmates and the female soldiers assigned to guard them has led to a standoff at the lockup in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A judge has blocked female guards from shackling and escorting five Muslim men being tried for plotting the Sept. 11 attacks. Soldiers, in turn, have filed Equal Opportunity complaints against the judge.

Walter Ruiz is the lawyer for one of the Guantanamo detainees who object to being escorted by female guards.

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Politics
8:21 am
Wed April 29, 2015

GOP Measure Would Make It Harder For Obama To Empty Guantanamo

The entrance to Camp 5 and Camp 6 at the U.S. military's Guantanamo Bay detention center at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, in a photograph taken in 2014.
Ben Fox AP

Originally published on Wed April 29, 2015 5:21 pm

All presidencies begin with promises. One of the first ones President Obama made was to shut down the stockade holding enemy combatants at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

More than six years later, that promise has yet to be fulfilled. And the Republican-controlled Congress is moving to make it even harder to actually empty Guantanamo.

At the prison camp, walking alongside the high outer walls of Guantanamo's detainee lock-ups, Navy spokesman Capt. Tom Gresback gestures to the west.

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Politics
5:44 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Lawmakers Urge Boehner To Act On Obama's Use Of Force Request

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 7:03 pm

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