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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1:55am

Tue December 24, 2013
National Security

Air Force's Beloved 'Warthog' Targeted For Retirement

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 6:04 pm

The U.S. Air Force could retire the A-10 "Warthog," despite support for the plane from infantrymen and pilots. These types of clashes occur whenever the military tries to mothball a weapon.
Staff Sgt. Melanie Norman U.S. Air Force

Jeff Duford is standing next to an A-10, one of the most beloved planes of all time. It's painted green, a clue that it was designed for a threat that has disappeared — it was built at the height of the Cold War.

"The reason why it's painted this way is because at that time, this airframe was expected to stop Soviet tanks from rolling through Germany," says Duford, curator of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. "So it's painted to kind of match the terrain that one would find in Central Europe."

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10:48am

Tue December 10, 2013
The Two-Way

In Qatar, Hagel Tours Command Center That May Or May Not Exist

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited the Combined Air and Space Operations Center in the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Qatar on Tuesday morning, the last leg of a tour that has also taken him to Bahrain, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

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4:33pm

Mon December 9, 2013
NPR Story

Karzai's Political Games Overshadow Hagel's Visit To Afghanistan

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 9:45 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel returned to the Middle East today, after a weekend tour of Afghanistan and a stop in Pakistan. Hagel's visit to Afghanistan was overshadowed by continuing difficulties with President Hamid Karzai. Afghanistan has not yet agreed to terms that would allow U.S. forces to stay there beyond 2014. As NPR's Larry Abramson reports, Afghanistan is not the only country where the U.S. faces questions about its military staying power.

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1:10pm

Thu November 14, 2013
The Two-Way

Google Says It's Getting Far More User-Data Requests From Government

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 1:11 pm

Google says the number of requests it gets from the U.S. government for user information is rising — fast.

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12:30pm

Thu November 7, 2013
Parallels

Who Owns The Archives Of A Vanishing Iraqi Jewish World?

Originally published on Sun November 10, 2013 11:22 am

This colorfully illustrated French and Hebrew Passover Haggadah was published in Vienna in 1930. Caption on the image: "Eating Matzah." This restored document is part of an exhibit at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., that opens Nov. 8.
National Archives

When U.S. troops entered the basement of Saddam Hussein's secret police building in Baghdad a decade ago, they were looking for weapons of mass destruction. They didn't find any.

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5:46am

Sat November 2, 2013
NPR Story

A Controversial Week For The NSA

Originally published on Sat November 2, 2013 10:36 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This week, the National Security Agency fought back against criticism of it's operations following leaks from former contractor Edward Snowden that have revealed some of the scale of the agency's surveillance of Americans and people overseas, including heads of state of U.S. allies. NPR's Larry Abramson has been covering the story and joins us. Larry, thanks so much for being with us.

LARRY ABRAMSON, BYLINE: Hi Scott.

SIMON: Bring us up to date. What happened this week that's pushed the scandal into the news again?

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5:14pm

Fri November 1, 2013
U.S.

Pentagon Pushes States On Benefits For Same-Sex Couples

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 5:49 pm

The Pentagon extended military benefits to same-sex spouses this summer, but some states have been resisting. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called that resistance "wrong" on Thursday.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has directed the National Guard Bureau to resolve a dispute that is making it difficult for same-sex couples to receive military benefits.

The Pentagon started to recognize same-sex marriages soon after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act this summer. But some states are resisting.

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10:29am

Tue October 29, 2013
The Two-Way

READ: Bipartisan Bill To End NSA's Domestic Bulk Collection

Bipartisan concern on Capitol Hill about data from Americans' phone and Internet records being vacuumed up by the National Security Agency has led to an unusual alliance involving a prominent House Republican and a veteran Senate Democrat.

NPR's Larry Abramson writes that:

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1:56am

Tue October 29, 2013
All Tech Considered

Who Has The Right To Know Where Your Phone Has Been?

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 6:49 am

Cell towers are constantly tracking the location of mobile phones. And that data, federal courts have ruled, is not constitutionally protected.
Steve Greer iStockphoto.com

You probably know, or should know, that your cellphone is tracking your location everywhere you go. But whether law enforcement officials should have access to that data is at the center of a constitutional debate.

Matt Blaze, a professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania, says location tracking is key to how the cell system operates.

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2:46am

Tue October 22, 2013
Around the Nation

West Point Women: A Natural Pattern Or A Camouflage Ceiling?

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 10:53 am

At the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., the graduating class has been about 16 percent female since the institution first accepted women more than 30 years ago.
Mike Groll AP

At the 200-year-old U.S. Military Academy at West Point, tradition dictates everything. That includes the habit of having freshmen stand in the yard everyday and call cadets to lunch. It's also tradition that the overwhelming majority of the graduating class will be white and 84 percent male.

Some say those rates are due to natural patterns of matriculation.

"Women will naturally matriculate — or, they have naturally matriculated — into the academy at about the 16 to 17 percent rate," says West Point admissions director Col. Deborah McDonald.

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3:00pm

Tue October 15, 2013
The Two-Way

FISA Court: We Approve 99 Percent Of Wiretap Applications

A letter (pdf) released today by a special surveillance court clears up some misconceptions about legal oversight for government wiretap activities. Responding to a letter from Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Pat Leahy (D-VT) and ranking member Charles Grassley (R-IA), the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court says, yes, it's true, we do approve 99% of all wiretap applications.

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3:00pm

Tue October 1, 2013
The Two-Way

How The Shutdown Is Affecting The Military

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 5:52 pm

Larry Abramson, who covers national security for NPR, sent us this missive, about how the shutdown of the federal government is affecting the Pentagon:

If you are a soldier, sailor, airman or marine, you will be paid during a shutdown. But only half of civilian defense workers are supposed to show up for work, and the rest do not get paid.

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6:19pm

Thu September 26, 2013
The Two-Way

Is The U.S. Collecting Cellphone Location Data?

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 6:16 am

Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, in June 2013.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Is the National Security Agency collecting cellphone tracking information on millions of Americans?

After a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, we still can't be sure. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has been trying to get intelligence officials to confirm or deny the existence or nonexistence of such a program.

Remember, records of where your cellphone is located give a pretty good idea of where the owners are. Wyden asked NSA Director Keith Alexander about that at Thursday's hearing, and Alexander said, no — not under "the current program."

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4:31pm

Wed September 18, 2013
The Two-Way

On Budget Issues, Pentagon's Rhetoric Is Challenged

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 5:06 pm

The budget battles in Washington have inspired the need for some verbal gymnastics that have challenged even the most adept doublespeakers at the Pentagon. As one member of the House pointed out today, some Pentagonians have insisted that Congress cannot cut a single additional dollar from defense, without endangering the national defense strategy.

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3:36pm

Mon September 9, 2013
National Security

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

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 4:20 pm

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

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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