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.

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.

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.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

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.

In mid-April, when President Trump declared, "Today I'm instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization," Jimmy Kolker did a double take.

"We were already in arrears before he said anything," says Kolker, who was an assistant secretary for global health affairs during the Obama administration.

Top U.S. Army leaders insisted Thursday that the June 13 graduation ceremony they have announced for West Point cadets — after President Trump declared on April 17 he would be the commencement speaker — will take place in a "safety bubble" of measures aimed at preventing a further spread of the coronavirus.

A new delay emerged Wednesday for an expected decision by U.S. Navy leaders on the possible reinstatement of Capt. Brett Crozier, who was relieved of his command on April 2 of the coronavirus-plagued nuclear aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

In not even three months since the first known U.S. deaths from COVID-19, more lives have now been lost to the coronavirus pandemic on U.S. soil than the 58,220 Americans who died over nearly two decades in Vietnam.

Early Tuesday evening ET, the U.S. death toll reached 58,365, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In what could amount to a stunning about-face for the Pentagon, congressional sources have confirmed to NPR that top Navy leaders have recommended that Capt. Brett Crozier be put back in command of the coronavirus-plagued aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Top U.S. defense officials are not ruling out restoring Navy Capt. Brett Crozier to his former command of the coronavirus-sidelined aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Amid growing concerns about military readiness, a sailor from the coronavirus-sidelined aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt became the first crew member to be hospitalized in intensive care in Guam Thursday. He is one of more than 400 of the ship's sailors who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Updated at 6:55 p.m. ET

Five days after firing the commander of a coronavirus-crippled U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, and a day after apologizing for calling that skipper naive and stupid in heated remarks to that warship's crew, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly has called it quits. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has accepted his resignation.

Updated at 9:03 p.m. ET

Three days after firing Capt. Brett Crozier as commander of the coronavirus-sickened nuclear aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly boarded the warship docked in Guam and delivered a stinging, profanity-laced denunciation of its deposed skipper.

NPR has obtained an audio recording of Modly's remarks.

A day after U.S. Navy Captain Brett Crozier was abruptly removed from his post as commanding officer of the coronavirus-infected aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, a Navy official confirms to NPR that acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly intends for Crozier to be reassigned rather than dismissed from the Navy.

Nearly 3,000 American sailors from the coronavirus-infected aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt are expected to have disembarked by Friday on the western Pacific U.S island territory of Guam, and plans to quarantine many of them in hotels there are drawing protests from local activists and politicians.

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