David Welna | KGOU
KGOU

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 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.

As a national security correspondent, Welna has continued covering the overseas travel of Pentagon chiefs who've succeeded Hagel. He has also made regular trips to the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to provide ongoing coverage of the detention there of alleged "foreign enemy combatants" and the slow-moving prosecution of some of them in an episodically-convened war court. In Washington, he continues to cover national security-related issues being considered by Congress.

In mid-1998, after 16 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 in 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, Minnesota, 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.

When local health officers issued simultaneous orders on March 16 for all residents of seven counties in the San Francisco Bay area to "shelter at their place of residence," Arnab Mukherjea thought it was "a bit draconian" for him as well as his wife and two young children.

As the cases of known coronavirus infections multiply worldwide, restrictions are increasing on international travel as well.

Two days after being sworn in for a second five-year term at a ceremony attended by senior U.S. officials, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has reversed his initial refusal to release Taliban prisoners prior to peace talks with the insurgents.

A South Korean contract construction worker working at the U.S. military garrison Camp Walker in Daegu — the South Korean city hardest hit by the the coronavirus outbreak — on Monday became the eighth person linked to the U.S. military in that nation to be diagnosed with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Political chaos reigned in Afghanistan Monday as dueling presidential swearing-in ceremonies took place in Kabul.

Incumbent Afghan President Ashraf Ghani took the oath of office for a second term while Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, citing fraud, proclaimed himself Afghanistan's president at a rival inauguration event.

With less than four days to go before peace talks are to begin in Afghanistan between that nation's authorities and the Taliban insurgency, things are not looking promising.

Taliban fighters are stepping up attacks on Afghan security forces. American warplanes are counterattacking. And a prisoner exchange that was to take place before those intra-Afghan talks start is being rejected by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

For nearly a half century, Freedom House — the avowedly non-partisan democracy advocacy organization whose founders include Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell Wilkie — has published an annual report on the state of freedom in the world. This year's edition, titled "A Leaderless Struggle for Democracy," is just out, and it is decidedly downbeat in its assessment of where worldwide freedom stands today.

In a move reminiscent of the Cold War, five Chinese state media entities were informed by the U.S. State Department Monday that they will have to reduce the number of their nationals working in the U.S.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has given the go-ahead to begin a drawdown of American forces in Afghanistan, despite reports that the Taliban is ending a partial ceasefire and has resumed attacks on Afghan forces.

Updated at 10:22 a.m. ET

The U.S. and the Taliban have struck a deal that paves the way for eventual peace in Afghanistan. U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad and the head of the militant Islamist group, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, signed the potentially historic agreement Saturday in Doha, Qatar, where the two sides spent months hashing out its details.

As fears spread of a wider coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., experts in global health pandemics as well as some of President Trump's leading political adversaries contend that the federal government's response may be lacking a key figure: a coronavirus czar.

In the weeks following Iran's Jan. 8 ballistic missile attack on the Ain al-Assad air base in Iraq, 110 American service members deployed there were diagnosed with what has been the signature, albeit invisible, wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: traumatic brain injury caused by concussive blasts from exploding weapons.

The price the U.S. has paid trying to build up infrastructure and a working system of governance in Afghanistan, while at the same time waging Washington's longest war there, has typically been measured in dollars.

The more than $137 billion the U.S. has spent implementing that 18-year nation-building effort in Afghanistan well exceeds, in today's dollars, what the U.S. spent on the Marshall Plan to help rebuild 16 Western European nations after World War II.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

One day after a contentious interview that was followed by an expletive-filled verbal lashing of NPR host Mary Louise Kelly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is publicly accusing her of lying to him — "twice."

In a statement released by the State Department on Saturday, Pompeo says Kelly first lied "in setting up our interview."

Updated at 3:24 p.m. ET

Two astronauts aboard the International Space Station conducted their fourth and final spacewalk Saturday to finish a series of repairs aimed at extending the functioning of a cosmic ray detector attached to the spacecraft.

The six-hour, 16-minute foray outside the space capsule began shortly after 7:00 a.m. ET and ended at 1:20 p.m.

Eight U.S. troops diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI) arrived in the U.S. on Friday, according to Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.

Two years after moving the metaphorical minute hand of its Doomsday Clock to within two minutes of midnight — a figurative two-minute warning for all humanity — the science and security board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists revealed Thursday that it has moved that minute hand another 20 seconds closer to the midnight hour.

It was Day Two of the House managers' opening arguments in another Senate impeachment trial 21 years ago. Bob Barr, a Georgia House Republican,
was speaking in the well of the Senate, making a case for removing President Bill Clinton from office.

"We urge you, the distinguished jurors in this case," Barr said to the assembled senators, "not to be fooled."

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