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 widespread alarm about the ability of the embattled U.S. Postal Service to deliver mailed election ballots on time, pandemic-wary voters are now being told that in-person voting this fall may not be as risky as initially thought.

Of the many sectors of the American economy slammed by the coronavirus pandemic, the businesses and individuals who provide child care to an estimated 12 million children under age 5 are among the hardest hit.

A sweeping purge of executives at U.S. government media outlets widened this week.

At least six of the top 10 executives at the U.S. Agency for Global Media were removed from their posts on Wednesday. Critics say the housecleaning threatens to destroy the firewall meant to separate government news entities from the White House. They warn it could turn broadcasters such as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe into distributors of propaganda on behalf of the Trump administration.

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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