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.

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8:25am

Sat May 2, 2015
National Security

Citing Religious Beliefs, Muslim Gitmo Inmates Object To Female Guards

Originally published on Sun May 3, 2015 8:08 pm

A shackled detainee is transported by guards, including a female soldier, at Camp Delta detention center, Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba, in this photo from December 2006.
Brennan Linsley AP

A clash between Muslim inmates and the female soldiers assigned to guard them has led to a standoff at the lockup in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A judge has blocked female guards from shackling and escorting five Muslim men being tried for plotting the Sept. 11 attacks. Soldiers, in turn, have filed Equal Opportunity complaints against the judge.

Walter Ruiz is the lawyer for one of the Guantanamo detainees who object to being escorted by female guards.

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4:53pm

Thu April 30, 2015
National Security

House Judiciary Committee Passes Bill To Limit NSA Spying

Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 8:19 pm

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

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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5:33am

Wed April 29, 2015
Politics

GOP Measure Would Make It Harder For Obama To Empty Guantanamo

Originally published on Wed April 29, 2015 5:21 pm

The entrance to Camp 5 and Camp 6 at the U.S. military's Guantanamo Bay detention center at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, in a photograph taken in 2014.
Ben Fox AP

All presidencies begin with promises. One of the first ones President Obama made was to shut down the stockade holding enemy combatants at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

More than six years later, that promise has yet to be fulfilled. And the Republican-controlled Congress is moving to make it even harder to actually empty Guantanamo.

At the prison camp, walking alongside the high outer walls of Guantanamo's detainee lock-ups, Navy spokesman Capt. Tom Gresback gestures to the west.

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5:21pm

Thu April 23, 2015
Politics

Lawmakers Urge Boehner To Act On Obama's Use Of Force Request

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 7:03 pm

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

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5:06am

Thu April 23, 2015
Politics

Congressional Battle Brews Over Bill To Extend NSA Data Collection

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 2:15 pm

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5:26am

Wed April 15, 2015
Politics

Obama, Senate Compromise Gives Congress A Say On Iran Nuclear Deal

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 2:17 pm

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

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5:26pm

Tue April 14, 2015
Politics

Senate Panel Backs Bill To Allow Congressional Review Of Iran Deal

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 5:49 am

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously voted Tuesday in support of a bill that would give Congress a role in approving the Iran nuclear agreement.

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

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Something unusual took place on Capitol Hill this afternoon.

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4:56pm

Mon April 13, 2015
Politics

Senators To Review Bill Designed To Limit Iran Nuclear Deal

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 7:53 pm

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will review a bill Tuesday that intends to give Congress a voice on the Iran nuclear agreement. The bill would take away the president's power to lift sanctions on Iran for 60 days after an agreement is reached, so Congress would have time to review it.

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6:09pm

Sat April 11, 2015
National Security

New START Nuke Deal With Russia May Be Aging — But It's Not Over

Originally published on Sat April 11, 2015 9:04 pm

President Obama speaks beside Russian President Dmitry Medvedev after signing New START documents in 2010. Now five years old, that treaty has taken on renewed relevance in light of the framework nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran.
Joe Klamar AFP/Getty Images

The tentative deal limiting Iran's nuclear program has gotten a lot of attention since it came together on April 2. It's shaping up to be a major test of the Obama administration's ability to finesse both negotiations abroad and politics on the home front. But this won't be the first time.

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5:02pm

Tue April 7, 2015
It's All Politics

How Congress Can Stop A Nuclear Deal With Iran

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will shepherd bills on Congress' reaction to the Iran framework deal struck by President Obama.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

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 branch of government.

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