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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.

Amid deteriorating U.S.-China relations, further aggravated by a highly unusual trip to Taiwan this weekend by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Defense Secretary Mark Esper talked for 90 minutes on Thursday with his Chinese counterpart, Defense Minister Wei Fenghe.

The dawn of the nuclear age began with a blinding, flesh-melting blast directly above the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. It was 8:16 a.m. on a Monday, the start of another workday in a city of nearly 300,000 inhabitants. An estimated two-thirds of that population — nearly all civilians — would soon be dead.

A death penalty sentence against confessed Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was thrown out Friday by a federal appeals court in Boston.

Citing errors by a lower court, a three-judge panel from the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the widely publicized case back to the federal District Court that had convicted Tsarnaev in 2015 and ordered six death sentences for him as well as 11 concurrent life sentences.

After voting for President Trump in 2016 and staunchly defending him in conservative publications, a Federalist Society leader appears to be having some very public buyer's remorse.

Steven Calabresi, co-founder of the powerful conservative legal organization, is now calling on the House of Representatives to do again what it has already done once this year: impeach Trump.

A federal judge in New York issued two strongly worded rulings on Wednesday that put a temporary freeze on restrictive Trump administration immigration policies.

The measures, which are now on hold, had broadened the grounds under which immigrants could be considered "public charges," a label that can harm the chances of obtaining either a green card or entry to the United States.

Economic output in Germany — the powerhouse of Europe — shrank during this year's second quarter by 10.1% compared with the same period last year. That double-digit downturn is the steepest since that country's Federal Statistical Office began tracking quarterly economic data a half-century ago.

In a slap at a longtime ally frequently reviled by President Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced Wednesday that the U.S. plans to withdraw roughly a third of the 36,000 American forces stationed in Germany.

Nearly 5,600 of the 11,800 troops to be removed from Germany would be sent to other NATO allies in Europe, including Poland. Another 6,400 would return to the U.S., although they or similar units would be redeployed to other European countries on what Esper described as a "rotational" basis.

A 900-pound bronze statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee has stood on the same spot at the Virginia state Capitol where the Confederate leader took command of the Army of Northern Virginia in 1861.

On Friday morning, that statue of Lee clad in a Confederate uniform was gone. So were the busts of seven other Confederates that had occupied places of honor in Virginia's Old House Chamber for decades, including those of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

Updated at 6:18 p.m. ET

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday unveiled a policy change that effectively blocks the public display of the Confederate battle flag at all U.S. military installations without specifically naming that controversial banner.

Esper's announcement follows a lengthy internal debate as well as recent bans on displaying the flag by both the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy.

The Vatican on Wednesday published a handbook for clergy and church lawyers that lays out the steps to follow when investigating and reporting alleged cases of sexual abuse of minors and others by priests, deacons and prelates.

A Vatican official described the "vademecum," as the document is titled in Latin, as simply a "tool" for correctly conducting probes into such allegations.

A year after Congress approved emergency humanitarian funds meant to benefit asylum-seekers apprehended along the border with Mexico, a government watchdog report released Wednesday finds that some of that money got spent instead on things from dirt bikes to dog food to security camera systems.

Relations between the more than 25,000 U.S. military forces on Okinawa and that Japanese island's 1.5 million residents have long been strained over pollution, crime and overcrowding associated with the 31 U.S. military bases there. Now a new outbreak of COVID-19 cases among American service members stationed on Japan's southernmost territory is fraying things further.

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The U.S. Supreme Court in an emergency ruling Thursday evening temporarily blocked a lower court's decision that, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, would have made it easier for residents of three Alabama counties to vote by absentee ballot in July 14 primary runoff elections.

An abnormal stall in an otherwise routine promotion of an Army officer who testified last year in the House hearings on the impeachment of President Trump could result in a highly unusual Senate hold blocking the pending promotions of more than 1,000 other Army officers.

Thanks to their efforts to steer clear of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Navy says two American warships that set sail in mid-January broke the modern record on Thursday for consecutive days at sea for U.S. naval surface vessels.

The official name of the smallest U.S. state is Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Some of its residents have been trying for the past three decades to drop the phrase "and Providence Plantations," which they consider an offensive reminder of the state's once-dominant role in the trade of enslaved Africans.

Despite tracking data indicating new coronavirus infections are on the rise in 23 states, the Pentagon on Friday announced it is lifting pandemic-inspired travel restrictions for U.S.

U.S. Navy Capt. Brett Crozier, who raised alarms in late March about a serious coronavirus outbreak aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier he commanded, will not be reinstated after being stripped of that command post.

A headlong race to come up with a viable vaccine for COVID-19 that is being championed by a science-averse American president seeking reelection prompted some skeptical questions Thursday on Capitol Hill.

Seven days before the scheduled June 23 release of a tell-all account of John Bolton's tenure as President Trump's national security adviser, the Justice Department late Tuesday mounted a last-ditch effort to block its publication.

A 27-page civil lawsuit filed by the Justice Department against Bolton with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleges that publication of his 592-page book, The Room Where It Happened, would be a violation of nondisclosure agreements he signed and compromise national security.

When protests erupted in Minnesota following the death of George Floyd — the black man who died after a white Minneapolis policeman kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes — many of the law enforcement agencies from the Twin Cities metropolitan area that responded were recent beneficiaries of free excess military materiel from a Pentagon program originally meant to support counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations.

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

Ten days after leaving the White House with President Trump and walking with him across a park that had been forcibly cleared of protesters, the nation's most senior military officer is calling that excursion "a mistake."

All of the approximately 1,600 active duty soldiers who were airlifted to military bases near Washington, D.C., earlier this week are being ordered back to their home postings, according the Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.

When Russian-speaking troops showed up in Ukraine six years ago, they were dubbed "little green men": armed forces whose green fatigues bore neither insignia nor identification.

A similar genre of unidentified, armed personnel clad in insignia-free uniforms has appeared policing street protests in Washington, D.C., in recent days, and Democratic lawmakers are demanding answers about just who these anonymous enforcers are.

Venturing further into the public discourse he had largely held back from since relinquishing the Oval Office to President Trump, former President Barack Obama joined a virtual town hall Wednesday to advocate for the kind of hope and change that once inspired a nation to twice elect him as its leader.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

In a move that possibly placed his job in peril, Defense Secretary Mark Esper publicly disagreed Wednesday with President Trump's threatened use of the 1807 Insurrection Act to quell widespread unrest over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck.

Democratic leaders in Congress inveighed Tuesday against what they described as a push by President Trump to use the U.S. military for cracking down on nationwide protests triggered by George Floyd's death last week in Minneapolis while he was in police custody.

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has reached a somber milestone: As of Wednesday afternoon, the highly infectious viral disease has taken more than 100,000 lives nationwide.

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