Tom Gjelten

Tom Gjelten covers a wide variety of global security and economic issues for NPR News. He brings to that assignment many years covering international news from posts in Washington and around the world.

Gjelten's overseas reporting experience includes stints in Mexico City as NPR's Latin America correspondent from 1986 to 1990 and in Berlin as Central Europe correspondent from 1990 to 1994. During those years, he covered the wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Colombia, as well as the Gulf War of 1990-1991 and the wars in Croatia and Bosnia.

With other NPR correspondents, Gjelten described the transitions to democracy and capitalism in Eastern Europe and the breakup of the Soviet Union. His reporting from Sarajevo from 1992 to 1994 was the basis for his book Sarajevo Daily: A City and Its Newspaper Under Siege (HarperCollins), praised by the New York Times as "a chilling portrayal of a city's slow murder." He is also the author of Professionalism in War Reporting: A Correspondent's View (Carnegie Corporation) and a contributor to Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know (W. W. Norton).

Prior to his current assignment, Gjelten covered U.S. diplomacy and military affairs, first from the State Department and then from the Pentagon. He was reporting live from the Pentagon at the moment it was hit on September 11, 2001, and he was NPR's lead Pentagon reporter during the war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. Gjelten has also reported extensively from Cuba in recent years, visiting the island more than a dozen times. His 2008 book, Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause (Viking), is a unique history of modern Cuba, told through the life and times of the Bacardi rum family. The New York Times selected it as a "Notable Nonfiction Book," and the Washington Post, Kansas City Star, and San Francisco Chronicle all listed it among their "Best Books of 2008."

Since joining NPR in 1982 as labor and education reporter, Gjelten has won numerous awards for his work. His 1992 series "From Marx to Markets," documenting the transition to market economics in Eastern Europe, won an Overseas Press Club award for "Best Business or Economic Reporting in Radio or TV." His coverage of the wars in the former Yugoslavia earned Gjelten the Overseas Press Club's Lowell Thomas Award, a George Polk Award and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. He was part of the NPR teams that won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for Sept. 11 coverage and a George Foster Peabody Award for coverage of the war in Iraq. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

In addition to reporting for NPR, Gjelten is a regular panelist on the PBS program Washington Week and serves on the editorial board of World Affairs Journal. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, he began his professional career as a public school teacher and a freelance writer.

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2:56am

Wed October 16, 2013
Parallels

Are We Moving To A World With More Online Surveillance?

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 11:04 am

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was angered by reports that the National Security Agency was spying on her. She has called for giving individual countries greater control over the Internet.
Getty Images

Many governments around the world have expressed outrage over the National Security Agency's use of the Internet as a spying platform. But the possible response may have an unforeseen consequence: It may actually lead to more online surveillance, according to Internet experts.

Some governments, led most recently by Brazil, have reacted to recent disclosures about NSA surveillance by proposing a redesign of Internet architecture. The goal would be to give governments more control over how the Internet operates within their own borders.

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7:57am

Sat September 28, 2013
Africa

Al-Shabab Shifts Focus From Territory To Terrorism

Originally published on Sat September 28, 2013 4:05 pm

Al-Shabab has been around for years as a militia group fighting for territory in Somalia.

When al-Shabab militants, dressed in casual clothes, turned up in a ritzy shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, last weekend and gunned down men, women and children, the group shifted from an insurgent movement to a terrorist organization.

"A week ago, al-Shabab wasn't in the news," says Bruce Hoffman, a a terrorism expert at Georgetown University and the Rand Corporation. "Arguably, outside of Somalia, no one really cared about them."

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4:52pm

Fri September 20, 2013
National Security

The Effects Of The Snowden Leaks Aren't What He Intended

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 5:24 pm

Edward Snowden's leaks about the NSA's secret surveillance program have pushed the agency to expedite planned reforms ahead of schedule, according to NSA officials.
Maxim Shemetov Reuters/Landov

An official assessment of the damage caused by news leaks about government surveillance programs suggests that terrorist groups are changing their communication methods in response to the disclosures, according to officials at the National Security Agency.

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3:19am

Wed September 18, 2013
National Security

Officials: Edward Snowden's Leaks Were Masked By Job Duties

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 10:58 am

Government officials tell NPR that Edward Snowden's job responsibilities allowed him to copy sensitive files unnoticed.
Maxim Shemetov Reuters /Landov

More than three months after Edward Snowden revealed details of NSA secret surveillance activities, intelligence officials are still assessing the fallout from the former contractor's disclosures. But they already know how the leaks happened.

"We have an extremely good idea of exactly what data he got access to and how exactly he got access to it," says the NSA's chief technology officer, Lonny Anderson.

In interviews with NPR, two government officials shared that part of the Snowden story in one of the most detailed discussions of the episode to date.

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5:24pm

Fri August 30, 2013
Technology

Firms Brace For Possible Retaliatory Cyberattacks From Syria

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 9:18 pm

With the possibility of a strike on Syrian targets, U.S. firms are trying to protect themselves from cyberattacks that may follow.
iStockphoto.com

The prospect of a military strike against Syria in the next few days has private U.S. firms bracing for retaliation — in cyberspace.

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2:57am

Thu August 15, 2013
All Tech Considered

The Next Disaster Scenario Power Companies Are Preparing For

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 8:49 am

Part of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant in Lewiston, N.Y., is seen from the air on Aug. 14, 2003, during a massive power outage that stretched from New York to Detroit and into Canada.
David Duprey AP

In the 10 years since sagging power lines in Ohio sparked a blackout across much of the Northeastern United States and Canada, utility engineers say they have implemented measures to prevent another such event in the country's electric grid.

But there is one disaster scenario for which the power companies are still unprepared: a massive attack on the computer networks that underlie the U.S. electric grid.

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5:43am

Sun July 28, 2013
News

Which Citizens Are Under More Surveillance, U.S. Or European?

Originally published on Sun July 28, 2013 12:31 pm

Protesters demonstrate against alleged NSA surveillance in Germany during a rally in Hannover, Germany, on Saturday.
Peter Steffen AP

The disclosure of of previously secret NSA surveillance programs has been met by outrage in Europe. The European Parliament even threatened to delay trade talks with the United States.

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5:20pm

Fri June 21, 2013
All Tech Considered

NSA Leak Could Be Bad Business For U.S. Tech Companies

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 7:11 pm

The disclosure of previously secret National Security Agency surveillance programs has left many Americans worried that the privacy of their personal data and communications is in jeopardy.

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5:25am

Sat June 15, 2013
National Security

The Case For Surveillance: Keeping Up With Terrorist Tactics

Originally published on Sat June 15, 2013 4:40 pm

The National Security Agency's headquarters in Fort Meade, Md.
NSA Reuters /Landov

Since public revelations that the National Security Agency is collecting telephone records and reviewing Internet communications in the U.S. and abroad, officials have been making the case that the programs are vital. They argue that the tactics match the new ways terrorists are planning and communicating.

There was a time when America's enemies conspired face-to-face, or communicated through couriers, or by leaving messages for each other somewhere. But in the digital age, that has changed.

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4:08pm

Thu June 6, 2013
Politics

For China To Invest In Smithfield, Broader Review Needed

Originally published on Mon June 10, 2013 5:38 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Sunnylands, not the White House. That's the private estate in the California desert where the U.S. and China will hold a summit tomorrow. The meeting between President Obama and China's new president, Xi Jinping, comes as China is buying its way ever deeper into the U.S. economy.

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