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.

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...

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

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 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...

When President Obama announced a year ago that he was authorizing new military operations in Iraq, he drew sharp limits on that action. It would only comprise, he said, "targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death." Airstrikes began the next day to rescue the Yazidi people who were trapped on Iraq's Mount Sinjar. That air campaign...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Some other news - Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has made a surprise visit to Iraq. He's in the country where the U.S. military is advising and using air power to support Iraqis fighting ISIS. NPR's David Welna has been traveling with the defense secretary. He's in Baghdad. Hi, David. DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Hi, Steve. INSKEEP: What's the secretary doing? WELNA: So the secretary came here primarily to...

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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: The nuclear pact with Iran that the U.S. and five other major powers agreed on this week is being denounced by some of Iran's Middle Eastern neighbors. The loudest objections to the deal by far are coming from Israel. Defense Secretary Ash Carter travels there this weekend in what's being seen as a bid to reassure the riled U.S. ally. Carter will also be meeting with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia. NPR's...

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