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.

There was some consternation Monday on Capitol Hill after President Trump told the United Nations General Assembly that "if [the U.S.] is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea." Congress is, after all, the only branch of government constitutionally authorized to declare war. And that would seem to include nuclear war.

But Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker says it's complicated.

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In a bucolic valley nestled in Romania's Carpathian mountains, herds of sheep graze the hillsides. Then, suddenly, all hell breaks loose.

Volleys of live artillery fire thunder across a wide hollow. Stryker fighting vehicles charge down a hillside as troops in camouflage brandish automatic rifles as they scramble through tall grasses.

Other than vodka, the Russian product most familiar to Americans is probably the anti-virus software made by Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab.

Trash-tweeting the news media for the fifteenth time in a week, President Trump spent part of Sunday morning at his Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey maligning CNN.

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Former national security adviser Mike Flynn has said he'd testify to congressional committees investigating Russian election meddling in exchange for immunity from prosecution. President Trump encouraged him to try to make such a deal to protect himself from what Trump called a "witch hunt."

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Russia has deployed new nuclear missiles and violated the "spirit and intent" of a landmark Cold War arms-reduction treaty, a top Pentagon commander says.

Now President Trump and leaders in Washington must decide what to do about it.

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President Trump's counterterrorism adviser is under fire from his peers — and Sebastian Gorka is hitting back.

Just ask Michael Smith. He's a counterterrorism expert in Charleston, S.C., who specializes in online recruiting efforts and who has advised members of Congress on terrorism-related issues.

Smith says that at about 7 p.m. Tuesday, he received a call on his smartphone from a private number in Falls Church, Va. It was Gorka — not calling from a government line at his office at the White House.

If President Trump wants to keep his promise to send new detainees to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, there's plenty of room.

"We haven't received any orders to take additional detainees in," says Navy Capt. John Filostrat. "But if given the order, we could go ahead and comply."

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After nearly an hour's flight north from Baghdad, a cavernous C-130 military cargo plane touches down. Aboard are reporters, Pentagon officials and the man who has occasioned this trip, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

The plane taxis along an airstrip that as recently as July was controlled — and then largely destroyed — by Islamic State fighters.

This is the Qayyarah Airfield West, just 30 miles south of Mosul.

Congress had a full seven months to block a rule change for federal courts that lets judges authorize the hacking of digital devices well beyond their districts.

But after a September attempt in the Senate to vote on the measure failed, opponents on Capitol Hill waited until the day before the rule change was to take effect to introduce three motions aimed at shooting it down or at least delaying its implementation.

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Among the many unknowns hanging over this presidential transition: the fate of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. President Obama has sworn to close it; President-elect Trump wants to fill it up again.

Obama has been promising the closure will happen since his second day in office in 2009. In February, he repeated that pledge one more time, saying, "I'm absolutely committed to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo."

That same day, at a campaign rally in Sparks, Nevada, Donald Trump was promising the opposite.

The U.S. and Russia are the world's two mightiest nuclear powers, and yet over the years, they've made deals to reduce their respective arsenals.

Just like a marriage gone bad, though, things have soured between Washington and Moscow. Bickering over nuclear issues has increased markedly in recent months, with each side accusing the other of cheating.

And that war of words is being matched by actions:

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The war over government access to encryption is moving to the battlefield on which Apple told the Justice Department it should always have taken place: Capitol Hill.

The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee have introduced a bill that would mandate those receiving a court order in an encryption case to provide "intelligible information or data" or the "technical means to get it" — in other words, a key to unlock secured data.

More than 50 world leaders are attending a nuclear security summit in Washington this week. But Vladimir Putin is a no-show. And, as if on cue, North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Friday.

These biannual nuclear summits, aimed at locking down fissile material worldwide that could be used for doomsday weapons, were proposed by President Obama back in 2009, barely two months into his presidency.

"We must insure that terrorists never acquire a nuclear weapon," he declared, calling such a scenario "the most immediate and extreme threat to global security."

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As national security has come to dominate the 2016 presidential race, the GOP contenders in particular are being pushed to define where they stand on a contentious matter: how suspected terrorists should be interrogated. Specifically, they've been asked about the currently banned use of waterboarding — a simulated drowning technique the CIA used on at least three alleged terrorists.

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