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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Politics
5:16 am
Wed July 29, 2015

New Gitmo Plan Would Relocate Some Detainees To U.S.

Captives separated by a fence conduct communal evening prayers at the Camp 6 prison building at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Walter Michot Miami Herald/TNS/Landov

Originally published on Wed July 29, 2015 2:22 pm

A top White House official is floating a plan to relocate all of the so-called "enemy combatants" held at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Some top congressional leaders had criticized President Obama for not spelling out how he'd shut down that facility, as he promised to do days after taking office in 2009.

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Middle East
5:51 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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Middle East
5:43 am
Wed July 15, 2015

Iran Nuclear Pact Could Spark Buildup Of Conventional Weapons

President Obama hosts leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council at Camp David, Md., on May 14. The president gave assurances that the U.S. would support its allies in the region concerned over Iran's growing influence.
Andrew Harnik AP

Originally published on Wed July 15, 2015 1:01 pm

The deal between Iran and six world powers is limited to keeping that nation from building a nuclear bomb. But it's inevitable that the agreement, announced Tuesday in Vienna, will have broader consequences and one of them could be a buildup of conventional arms in the Middle East.

As part of the nuclear deal, a United Nations arms embargo on Iran, which was imposed in 2007 in response to the country's nuclear program, will be lifted in five years for most weapons, and in eight years for ballistic missiles.

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National Security
6:26 pm
Thu July 9, 2015

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

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Politics
5:04 am
Thu July 9, 2015

Senate Panel Considers Gen. Dunford's Joint Chiefs Nomination

Originally published on Fri July 10, 2015 4:20 pm

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Parallels
5:32 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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Politics
4:37 pm
Thu June 25, 2015

Veterans Affairs Urges Congress For Help In Closing Budget Gap

Originally published on Thu June 25, 2015 7:17 pm

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Politics
5:07 am
Tue June 16, 2015

Senate Considers Anti-Torture Measure

Originally published on Tue June 16, 2015 7:59 am

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Law
4:57 pm
Fri June 12, 2015

U.S. Appeals Court Overturns Conviction Of Guantanamo Detainee

Originally published on Fri June 12, 2015 8:55 pm

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Politics
5:04 am
Tue June 9, 2015

Latest Domestic Surveillance Issues Conjure Up Church Committee's Probe

Originally published on Tue June 9, 2015 8:08 am

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National Security
5:31 pm
Thu June 4, 2015

New Snowden Documents Reveal Government Collection Of Online Data

Originally published on Thu June 4, 2015 8:50 pm

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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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National Security
5:21 pm
Mon June 1, 2015

NSA Bulk Collection On Hold As Senate Considers Bill

Originally published on Mon June 1, 2015 10:46 pm

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National Security
5:21 pm
Fri May 29, 2015

Senate To Vote On Patriot Act As Expiration Nears

Originally published on Fri May 29, 2015 6:20 pm

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National Security
4:43 pm
Fri May 22, 2015

State Department Releases First Set Of Clinton Emails

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 8:32 pm

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Politics
5:09 am
Fri May 22, 2015

Congressional Stalemate Threatens To Kill Phone Data Program

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 7:32 am

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National Security
4:56 pm
Wed May 20, 2015

U.S. Releases Documents From 2011 Osama Bin Laden Raid

Originally published on Wed May 20, 2015 7:17 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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