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 MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: We have an update now on a story that's been going on for years. At the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, five men imprisoned there are accused of plotting the September 11 terrorist attacks. The military commission that is to try them meets only infrequently. NPR's David Welna traveled to Guantanamo this weekend to cover the latest session of that court. He's with us now on the line to talk...

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. In a debate on ABC News earlier this month, Donald Trump said, "I would bring back waterboarding, and I would...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: Defense Secretary Ash Carter has a blunt message for his counterparts fighting the Islamic State. The U.S. wants and expects them to do more. Carter meets with those defense chiefs tomorrow in Brussels. The summit is happening as the Syrian regime wages a bloody offensive against rebel-held Aleppo and as doubts are growing about the U.S. strategy there. Here's NPR's David Welna. DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: This...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: We're going to hear next how the issue of torture is playing out in the presidential race. Ahead of today's New Hampshire primary, the GOP contenders have been weighing in on the use of waterboarding by U.S. officials on alleged terrorists. Some of the candidates endorse this practice, which many other people consider torture. We asked NPR national security correspondent David Welna examine some of the...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript DAVID GREENE, HOST: Now, when it comes to American satellites, the United States is getting help from a surprising place - Russia. The White House has sanctioned Russian officials for human rights abuses. The Pentagon is spending money to counter Russian aggression. And yet to launch top-secret military satellites, the Pentagon still relies almost entirely on rocket engines made in Russia. Here's NPR's David Welna. DAVID...

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

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: They're called smart guns - weapons that can only be fired by their owners. President Obama is directing the Pentagon and other federal agencies to both develop and promote smart gun technology. Firearms manufacturers, though, have resisted adding these safety features. Gun safety advocates hope that will change with the president's new initiatives. NPR's David Welna reports. DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: In...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript DAVID GREENE, HOST: President Obama might be getting closer to meeting a goal he set when he first took office - emptying the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. One hundred and seven captives remain there. Fifty or so have no immediate chance of getting out. And let's hear about one of Guantanamo's so-called forever prisoners. It's a case that's drawn support from celebrities and human rights activists. Here's NPR's...

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 ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: Nearly a year ago, a Senate Intelligence Committee report about the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques concluded that torture doesn't work. Well, today, a report from the advocacy group Human Rights Watch says there is plenty of evidence to order the prosecution of those behind the interrogations. NPR's David Welna reports. DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Human Rights Watch titles its report "No More Excuses: A...

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