WCBE

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.

The U.S. government and cybersecurity companies agree that Iran has greatly improved its cyberattack capability over the past two years. A report being released tomorrow says Iran's cyberattacks have increased during nuclear talks, but some experts question that conclusion. Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: WikiLeaks today posted tens of thousands of documents that hackers stole last year from Sony Pictures Entertainment. The U.S....

Congress was out of town, and, to some extent, out of the loop when negotiators in Lausanne, Switzerland agreed April 2 on a "framework" for a deal that U.S. officials say would keep Iran from building a nuclear bomb. As the details for a final deal get worked out before a June 30 deadline, the White House would just as soon see Congress stay on the sidelines. After all, administration officials argue, this is an executive agreement, not a treaty — so it needs no approval by the legislative...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Bowe Bergdahl was charged today by the U.S. military. He's the U.S. Army sergeant who was captured in Afghanistan and held by the Taliban for nearly five years. Here's Army Colonel Daniel King announcing the charges. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) COLONEL DANIEL KING: One count of Article 85, desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty, and one count of Article 99, misbehavior before...

The U.S. air war in Iraq and Syria against the self-proclaimed Islamic State is now in its eighth month. American officials say dropping bombs won't be enough to defeat that group; it will also require fighting on the ground. So the U.S. is trying to put together a ground force in Syria by training and equipping thousands of Syrians. One big question is what the U.S. will do if these Syrian rebel forces get attacked by the regime of Bashar Assad — and so far, the U.S. doesn't have an answer....

Thad Rasmussen, 36, lost his mother, Rhonda , in the Sept. 11 attacks; she died at the Pentagon. This month, he sat in a courtroom at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and looked at five men accused of planning those attacks. "It was very difficult to see them as humans," he says. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp are accused of helping plot the Sept. 11 attacks. For the past three years, they've faced death penalty charges, appearing periodically in the...

This Sunday marks a dozen years since Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured in Pakistan — and seven years since Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann announced formal charges against him, alleging Mohammed was the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. Ever since, the United States has been working to try him and four other men on death penalty charges at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Now, one of the biggest cases in U.S. history may also become the longest running. And it could be years...

For years in the military courtroom at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, there's been a subject no one could talk about: torture. Now that's changed. This latest chapter began when the military commission at Guantanamo held a hearing earlier this month in the case of five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks — a case that's been stuck for nearly three years in pre-trial wrangling. It was the first time the court had met since a summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: On this program Monday, we told you about a remarkable encounter in the courtroom at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It involved the men charged with plotting and carrying out the 9/11 terrorist attacks. One of the men pointed at a court interpreter and said he had seen him before at a secret CIA prison where the defendant had been brutally interrogated. Today, government prosecutors addressed that claim. NPR's...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: The trial of five men accused of planning and facilitating the 9/11 terrorist attacks resumed today at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But the proceedings stopped almost as soon as it began. This was the first session of this war court since last summer, and the first since the release of a Senate report that detailed brutal interrogations in secret prisons against some of these defendants. It was those...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: Every three months, the special inspector general offers an independent view on the war in Afghanistan. The IG, John Sopko, has issued reports on how well and sometimes how badly American tax dollars are being spent to shore up the government in Kabul. Well, today, the latest report is out, but it was missing the usual details on funding for the Afghan military and police. That's because the top...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: On President Obama's third day in office, he issued a sweeping executive order. It banned the use of torture by U.S. officials or at any facilities under American control. The order was a public rejection of the CIA's interrogation methods during the George W. Bush administration, methods spelled out in a recent Senate report. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein led that review. Now she's concerned...

The White House is close to nominating someone to replace Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. Ashton Carter, the former number two at the Pentagon, is said to be the front-runner. Several other top candidates withdrew their names from consideration in the past week. Carter, a former Rhodes Scholar, is known as a strong manager and an expert on many issues facing the department. Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is far from being closed — something President Obama promised to do in the first days of his administration. But people are being released. Five Taliban prisoners were swapped in May for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Since the November midterm elections, there has been a new batch of transfers from Guantanamo, and more releases are in the works. Seven low-level detainees have been moved from Guantanamo to other nations this month, bringing the number...

It's a question we've all wrestled with: Which emails should be saved and which ones should be deleted? The Central Intelligence Agency thinks it's found the answer, at least as far as its thousands of employees and contractors are concerned: Sooner or later, the spy agency would destroy every email except those in the accounts of its top 22 officials. It's now up to the National Archives — the ultimate repository of all the records preserved by federal agencies — to sign off on the CIA's...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. A world leader called on his nation's lawmakers this past week to debate launching airstrikes against the group known as the Islamic State. That leader was not President Obama. It was British Prime Minister David Cameron. The American president, for his part, skipped getting Congress to sign on before attacking the group also known as ISIS...

President Obama now has the approval he sought from Congress to train and arm trusted Syrian rebel forces. What he didn't get from Congress was the money to pay for the mission. Lawmakers — who've skipped town for the campaign trail — also didn't approve any new money to pay for the broader air campaign against the group that calls itself the Islamic State. So where will the money come from? For a while, at least, combat in Iraq and Syria will probably be paid for from a special account meant...

Federal programs that give or pay for military-grade equipment for local police departments are coming under new scrutiny from the Senate Homeland Security panel. An oversight hearing on Tuesday was the first Congressional response to last month's turmoil in Ferguson, Mo. It was called for by Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, who has criticized the "militarization" of Ferguson's police force. Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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