Larry Abramson

Larry Abramson is NPR's National Security Correspondent. He covers the Pentagon, as well as issues relating to the thousands of vets returning home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Prior to his current role, Abramson was NPR's Education Correspondent covering a wide variety of issues related to education, from federal policy to testing to instructional techniques in the classroom. His reporting focused on the impact of for-profit colleges and universities, and on the role of technology in the classroom. He made a number of trips to New Orleans to chart the progress of school reform there since Hurricane Katrina. Abramson also covers a variety of news stories beyond the education beat.

In 2006, Abramson returned to the education beat after spending nine years covering national security and technology issues for NPR. Since 9/11, Abramson has covered telecommunications regulation, computer privacy, legal issues in cyberspace, and legal issues related to the war on terrorism.

During the late 1990s, Abramson was involved in several special projects related to education. He followed the efforts of a school in Fairfax County, Virginia, to include severely disabled students in regular classroom settings. He joined the National Desk reporting staff in 1997.

For seven years prior to his position as a reporter on the National Desk, Abramson was senior editor for NPR's National Desk. His department was responsible for approximately 25 staff reporters across the United States, five editors in Washington, and news bureaus in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. The National Desk also coordinated domestic news coverage with news departments at many of NPR's member stations. The desk doubled in size during Abramson's tenure. He oversaw the development of specialized beats in general business, high-technology, workplace issues, small business, education, and criminal justice.

Abramson joined NPR in 1985 as a production assistant with Morning Edition. He moved to the National Desk, where he served for two years as Western editor. From there, he became the deputy science editor with NPR's Science Unit, where he helped win a duPont-Columbia Award as editor of a special series on Black Americans and AIDS.

Prior to his work at NPR, Abramson was a freelance reporter in San Francisco and worked with Voice of America in California and in Washington, D.C.

He has a master's degree in comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley. Abramson also studied overseas at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and at the Free University in Berlin, Germany.

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National Security
4:36 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

U.S. Mulls Over More Possible Targets For Syria Strike

The U.S. is considering adding helicopters to its list of potential targets of a military strike. Here, rebel fighters are seen on a Russian-made helicopter seized from the Syrian army at the Minnig Military Airport near the Turkish border on Aug. 11.
Mahmoud Hassano Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 5:20 pm

As U.S. lawmakers weigh whether to support an attack on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, military planners have expanded the target list for a potential strike.

The Pentagon had been focused on attacking Syria with so-called standoff weapons — cruise missiles, for example. Launched from ships, they can attack Syrian positions without placing American pilots in danger. Cruise missiles are very precise, and perfect for hitting fixed targets, such as command-and-control centers the Syrian military relies on.

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Politics
5:08 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Lawmakers Struggle With Wording Of Syria Resolution

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 6:58 am

Congress is trying to fashion language that would restrict U.S. involvement in Syria from escalating. But lawmakers often find it uncomfortable to rein in the commander in chief once U.S. forces have been committed.

Parallels
11:39 am
Thu August 29, 2013

The Drums Of War, Poolside Edition

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, center, chains his hands with his counterparts from Vietnam, right, and Thailand before the ASEAN meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, on Thursday. The trip's message: The U.S. is committed to its "rebalance" toward the Asia-Pacific region.
Vincent Thian AP

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 2:11 pm

NPR's Larry Abramson is traveling with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is in Brunei's capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Plus, or ASEAN Plus. Larry sent us this dispatch:

You cannot hear the drums of war here in Brunei, but you can hear the surf from the Brunei coast, or the sounds of splashing from the humongous pools here at the Empire Hotel and Country Club.

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All Tech Considered
2:56 am
Thu August 22, 2013

How A Look At Your Gmail Reveals The Power Of Metadata

An MIT analysis of Larry Abramson's Gmail account illustrates his online relationships.
immersion.mit.media.edu

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 12:43 pm

Sometimes you have to give up a little privacy in order to find out how much — or how little — privacy you really have. So I handed over the keys to my Gmail account to Cesar Hidalgo, a professor at the MIT Media Lab and the designer of a program called Immersion.

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Law
5:27 am
Wed August 21, 2013

NSA Phone Records Revive Debate Over Supreme Court Case

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 12:03 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Carrie mentioned those leaks by Edward Snowden. Because of those leaks, we now know that, for years, the National Security Agency has been collecting the records of Americans' phone traffic. The government insists these are just billing records, who called whom, not the content of the calls.

Administration officials, like Deputy Attorney General James Cole, maintain that unlike the content of calls, these records do not require a search warrant.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

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NPR Story
5:13 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Obama Administration Resists Cutting Off Egypt Aid

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 6:58 pm

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Monday that the United States has limited influence in Egypt, where a violent crackdown by Egypt's military has left hundreds of protesters dead. Hagel's comment comes as some in Congress suggest the U.S. does have substantial leverage. They want the the U.S. to cut off military aid to Egypt.

Law
5:11 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Pentagon Adds New Measures To Combat Sexual Assault

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 5:43 pm

Under pressure from Congress, the Pentagon has announced additional measures to combat sexual assault. The Pentagon continues to resist proposals that would take prosecution of sexual assault out of the chain of command, but some lawmakers say that's the step that would make a difference.

NPR Story
5:13 am
Thu August 15, 2013

Drone Manufacturers Confident Domestic Industry Will Grow

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 8:53 am

Gathering in Washington, D.C., drone manufacturers say they are optimistic about their business, despite a downturn in defense spending. The unmanned vehicle industry is hopeful the domestic market will open up. But they first must address privacy concerns exacerbated by the NSA spying scandal.

National Security
4:24 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Obama Supports Some Senators' Call For NSA Reform

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 5:45 pm

At his press conference on Friday, President Obama promised more transparency about the government's secret national security surveillance programs. The president expressed support for some reform efforts being considered in Congress and called for the release of more documents that explain how and why the surveillance effort works and whether it safeguards the privacy of Americans.

Research News
4:08 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Study: Rising Military Suicide Rate Not Linked To Deployment

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 7:25 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A new study out today finds that the rising number of suicides in the military is not caused by deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The paper says mental health and alcohol abuse are much stronger indicators that a service member will commit suicide. As NPR's Larry Abramson reports, that finding runs smack into other evidence that says there is a connection.

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The Two-Way
3:34 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

In A First, Unmanned Navy Jet Lands On Aircraft Carrier

A Navy X-47B drone, seen here last month being launched off the aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush, successfully landed on the ship Wednesday, a first.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 12:10 pm

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NPR Story
4:45 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Former FISA Judge Questions Court's Approval Of Surveillance

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 6:00 pm

A former judge for the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court raised questions about the court's approval of government data collection programs on Tuesday. He was testifying before the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent agency considering recently uncovered surveillance efforts.

NPR Story
5:01 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Privacy Board To Scrutinize Surveillance Programs

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 6:49 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. Just after Edward Snowden first leaked secrets about government surveillance, he gave an interview to two journalists while he was hiding out in Hong Kong. Yesterday, The Guardian newspaper released more of that interview with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras.

GREENE: In that video, Snowden discusses why he exposed the surveillance programs.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

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National Security
9:54 am
Sat July 6, 2013

Defense Contractors See Their Futures In Developing World

A mannequin in night-vision goggles is part of a display at a border-security expo in Pheonix last year. Defense companies are seeking growth in markets in the developing world, or in homeland and cybersecurity.
Amanda Meyers AP

Originally published on Sat July 6, 2013 5:12 pm

Defense manufacturers worldwide are facing tough times ahead, as tight budgets force Western governments to cut spending. But while the West is cutting back, developing countries around the world are spending more on defense — a lot more.

Last fall, defense contractors warned of massive layoffs if the U.S. government enacted the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. Now, sequestration is in effect, but job losses are limited, in part because many Pentagon contracts were already in place and will keep assembly lines rolling for much of this year.

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National Security
4:59 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

NSA May Have Been Collecting Email Data Since Sept. 11

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 5:44 pm

The Guardian newspaper has released a new leaked document that details how the National Security Agency, after Sept. 11, collected email records. The program targeted foreigners but included Americans. It ended in 2011.

Same-Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court
5:01 am
Thu June 27, 2013

Gay Military Spouses To Benefit From Supreme Court Ruling

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning. The Supreme Court ruling yesterday on the Defense of Marriage Act will change the lives of many people, including some in the U.S. military. Gay spouses of service members have long been denied the substantial benefits available to heterosexual couples. Yesterday's ruling that struck down DOMA means gay married couples can look forward to more equal treatment from the Pentagon, as NPR's Larry Abramson reports.

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National Security
6:58 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Service Members Receive Sexual Assault Prevention Training

Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 11:13 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All this month, members of the military have been in sessions focusing on how to prevent sexual assault. It's part of a stand-down declared Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. That means service members drop what they're doing and go through intensive training to deal with what has been a growing problem. NPR's Larry Abramson sat in on some of the sessions.

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World
6:10 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

WikiLeaks Helps NSA Leaker As It Works To Stage A Comeback

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Edward Snowden's travels have been underwritten in part by Wikileaks. That organization, of course, has also attracted scrutiny for publishing government secrets. Lately, Wikileaks has retreated from the headlines, but as we hear from NPR's Larry Abramson, the organization has been slowly staging a comeback.

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National Security
5:14 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Will The U.S. Military Really Welcome Women On Battlefields?

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 9:40 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's Wednesday and it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning.

Everyone is entitled to a chance. Those were the words of then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in January, when he announced plans for women to serve on the front lines in combat roles long closed to them. Yesterday the Pentagon offered some details. For one thing, women can begin training for the Navy's inland water combat units as early as next month.

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National Security
5:23 am
Tue June 11, 2013

Will Surveillance Disclosure Lead To More Oversight Of NSA?

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer. The recent leaks revealing the extent of the National Security Agency surveillance programs came as news to many people. But some members of Congress have been warning for years that such surveillance could threaten the privacy of average Americans.

NPR's Larry Abramson reports that in the end, it was Congress that decided not to disclose details about these programs to the public.

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