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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 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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Republicans are taking the next step toward turning a tax bill into law.

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There's a growing number of defense industry insiders landing top jobs at the Pentagon. Some happen to be from the Pentagon's biggest customers. And that led to a bipartisan beating up at a confirmation hearing this week. NPR's David Welna has that story.

Critics in the Senate have posed a high-stakes question: Can anything keep President Trump from launching a nuclear attack on his own?

"We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests," said Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy.

His Massachusetts colleague Ed Markey has offered legislation that would require congressional approval for any first use of nuclear weapons.

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The U.S. defense secretary stood at the border between North and South Korea today.

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The steel-plated, modified Boeing 747 that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis travels the world on had flown west from suburban Washington, D.C., for 19 hours when it touched down Monday on an airstrip the U.S. once owned and operated.

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Romania's 'Brain Drain'

Oct 12, 2017

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Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET Thursday

There was some consternation Monday on Capitol Hill after President Trump told the United Nations General Assembly that "if [the U.S.] is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea." Congress is, after all, the only branch of government constitutionally authorized to declare war. And that would seem to include nuclear war.

But Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker says it's complicated.

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In a bucolic valley nestled in Romania's Carpathian mountains, herds of sheep graze the hillsides. Then, suddenly, all hell breaks loose.

Volleys of live artillery fire thunder across a wide hollow. Stryker fighting vehicles charge down a hillside as troops in camouflage brandish automatic rifles as they scramble through tall grasses.

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Other than vodka, the Russian product most familiar to Americans is probably the anti-virus software made by Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab.

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Trash-tweeting the news media for the fifteenth time in a week, President Trump spent part of Sunday morning at his Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey maligning CNN.

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