Larry Abramson

Larry Abramson is NPR's National Security Correspondent. He covers the Pentagon, as well as issues relating to the thousands of vets returning home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Prior to his current role, Abramson was NPR's Education Correspondent covering a wide variety of issues related to education, from federal policy to testing to instructional techniques in the classroom. His reporting focused on the impact of for-profit colleges and universities, and on the role of technology in the classroom. He made a number of trips to New Orleans to chart the progress of school reform there since Hurricane Katrina. Abramson also covers a variety of news stories beyond the education beat.

In 2006, Abramson returned to the education beat after spending nine years covering national security and technology issues for NPR. Since 9/11, Abramson has covered telecommunications regulation, computer privacy, legal issues in cyberspace, and legal issues related to the war on terrorism.

During the late 1990s, Abramson was involved in several special projects related to education. He followed the efforts of a school in Fairfax County, Virginia, to include severely disabled students in regular classroom settings. He joined the National Desk reporting staff in 1997.

For seven years prior to his position as a reporter on the National Desk, Abramson was senior editor for NPR's National Desk. His department was responsible for approximately 25 staff reporters across the United States, five editors in Washington, and news bureaus in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. The National Desk also coordinated domestic news coverage with news departments at many of NPR's member stations. The desk doubled in size during Abramson's tenure. He oversaw the development of specialized beats in general business, high-technology, workplace issues, small business, education, and criminal justice.

Abramson joined NPR in 1985 as a production assistant with Morning Edition. He moved to the National Desk, where he served for two years as Western editor. From there, he became the deputy science editor with NPR's Science Unit, where he helped win a duPont-Columbia Award as editor of a special series on Black Americans and AIDS.

Prior to his work at NPR, Abramson was a freelance reporter in San Francisco and worked with Voice of America in California and in Washington, D.C.

He has a master's degree in comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley. Abramson also studied overseas at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and at the Free University in Berlin, Germany.

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Politics
3:25 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Calls Grow For Overhaul Of Government Surveillance Programs

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 5:46 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Let's turn now to Congress and the way some lawmakers want to rein in government surveillance programs. There was a vote last week, it was defeated. Despite that, critics of the surveillance program say they plan to keep trying. Some proposals call for minor tweaks, others go much further and could lead to major reforms of the secret surveillance court.

NPR's Larry Abrahamson looks at what might be ahead.

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The Two-Way
1:39 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

In A First, Unmanned Navy Jet Lands On Aircraft Carrier

A Navy X-47B drone, seen here last month being launched off the aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush, successfully landed on the ship Wednesday, a first.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 10:10 am

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National Security
2:54 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Former FISA Judge Questions Court's Approval Of Surveillance

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 4:00 pm

A former judge for the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court raised questions about the court's approval of government data collection programs on Tuesday. He was testifying before the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent agency considering recently uncovered surveillance efforts.

National Security
7:54 am
Sat July 6, 2013

Defense Contractors See Their Futures In Developing World

A mannequin in night-vision goggles is part of a display at a border-security expo in Pheonix last year. Defense companies are seeking growth in markets in the developing world, or in homeland and cybersecurity.
Amanda Meyers AP

Originally published on Sat July 6, 2013 3:12 pm

Defense manufacturers worldwide are facing tough times ahead, as tight budgets force Western governments to cut spending. But while the West is cutting back, developing countries around the world are spending more on defense — a lot more.

Last fall, defense contractors warned of massive layoffs if the U.S. government enacted the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. Now, sequestration is in effect, but job losses are limited, in part because many Pentagon contracts were already in place and will keep assembly lines rolling for much of this year.

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National Security
2:59 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

NSA May Have Been Collecting Email Data Since Sept. 11

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 3:44 pm

The Guardian newspaper has released a new leaked document that details how the National Security Agency, after Sept. 11, collected email records. The program targeted foreigners but included Americans. It ended in 2011.

Law
2:21 am
Thu June 27, 2013

Gay Military Spouses To Benefit From Supreme Court Ruling

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 3:01 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning. The Supreme Court ruling yesterday on the Defense of Marriage Act will change the lives of many people, including some in the U.S. military. Gay spouses of service members have long been denied the substantial benefits available to heterosexual couples. Yesterday's ruling that struck down DOMA means gay married couples can look forward to more equal treatment from the Pentagon, as NPR's Larry Abramson reports.

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World
4:10 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

WikiLeaks Helps NSA Leaker As It Works To Stage A Comeback

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Edward Snowden's travels have been underwritten in part by Wikileaks. That organization, of course, has also attracted scrutiny for publishing government secrets. Lately, Wikileaks has retreated from the headlines, but as we hear from NPR's Larry Abramson, the organization has been slowly staging a comeback.

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National Security
3:23 am
Tue June 11, 2013

Will Surveillance Disclosure Lead To More Oversight Of NSA?

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer. The recent leaks revealing the extent of the National Security Agency surveillance programs came as news to many people. But some members of Congress have been warning for years that such surveillance could threaten the privacy of average Americans.

NPR's Larry Abramson reports that in the end, it was Congress that decided not to disclose details about these programs to the public.

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Law
2:46 am
Fri June 7, 2013

The History Behind America's Most Secretive Court

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court resides in this courthouse in Washington, D.C.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Fri June 7, 2013 8:52 am

This week The Guardian newspaper shared with its readers a document that few people ever get to see — an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court telling Verizon to share countless phone records with the National Security Agency. The White House would not confirm the existence of this surveillance effort, but it insisted Congress is fully briefed about such activities. Members of Congress confirmed that they knew.

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Politics
3:30 am
Tue June 4, 2013

Senate Committee Investigates Sexual Assaults In U.S. Military

Originally published on Tue June 4, 2013 6:10 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Within the U.S. military now, it seems hardly a day goes by without some new accusation of sexual assault. The problem has the attention of top officers, even the Secretary of Defense. Still, lawmakers say the Pentagon is not doing enough to stem a growing number of sex crimes. A Senate committee is holding a hearing today on what Congress can do about sexual assault in the military.

NPR's Larry Abramson reports.

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Around the Nation
1:32 am
Mon June 3, 2013

Air Force Trains Special Lawyers For Sexual Assault Victims

Originally published on Mon June 3, 2013 8:23 am

Many victims of sexual assault in the military say only one experience comes close to the pain of the actual crime, and that's going to court to bring charges against the attacker.

This is believed to be one reason why so few victims come forward and report these crimes, and now the Air Force is hoping a new team of lawyers will help to change that.

At Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, a tall three-star general stands in front of a class of JAG officers — Air Force lawyers. He tells them they are pioneers in a new field, and then lays a heavy responsibility on them.

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Parallels
10:51 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Women In Combat: Some Lessons From Israel's Military

Soldiers of Israel's 33rd Caracal Battalion take part in a graduation march in the northern part of the southern Israeli Negev desert on March 13. The Caracal was formed in 2004 with the chief purpose of giving women a chance to serve in a true combat role.
Menahem Kahana AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun May 19, 2013 8:39 am

As the U.S. moves to open up combat positions to women, it's catching up with other countries that have been doing it for years.

But the experience in these countries, including Israel, suggests that access to combat jobs doesn't lead directly to equal treatment within the ranks.

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National Security
1:31 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Women In Combat: Obstacles Remain As Exclusion Policy Ends

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 8:02 am

Wednesday's deadline for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines to submit plans for ending the policy that keeps women from serving in ground combat positions will open up more than 200,000 positions in the military to them. But the change won't end questions about the role of women in the armed forces.

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U.S.
3:34 am
Sun May 12, 2013

Gender Neutral: Armed Forces Submit Plans To End 'Exclusion'

Originally published on Sun May 12, 2013 4:55 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

This coming week, the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are supposed to submit their plans for ending what's called the combat exclusion. This is the rule that says women cannot serve in most ground combat positions. The Pentagon announced plans to lift the ban earlier this year. The move comes as the military is under growing pressure to deal with an increasing number of sexual assault cases.

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The Sequester: Cuts And Consequences
3:29 am
Sat May 11, 2013

Sequester Has Air Force Clipping Its Wings

To save money, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina is keeping some of its pilots out of the sky.
Airman 1st Class Aubrey White U.S. Air Force

Originally published on Sat May 11, 2013 10:58 am

The Pentagon says the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration could leave the U.S. with a military that is simply unprepared for the most challenging combat missions. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told Congress in April that the military is eating its seed corn.

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Middle East
3:11 am
Tue May 7, 2013

Why Sustained Action Against Syria Is More Than Air Strikes

Originally published on Sun May 12, 2013 6:27 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Two years after the start of Syria's civil war, amid allegations of chemical weapons use and reports of an Israeli airstrike, the United States still faces the same question.

GREENE: That question is what, if anything, the U.S. should do. For now, President Obama is focusing on diplomacy. His secretary of state, John Kerry, is in Moscow today.

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World
2:32 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Why Chemical Weapons Have Been A Red Line Since World War I

Soldiers with the British Machine Gun Corps wear gas masks in 1916 during World War I's first Battle of the Somme.
General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 5:48 pm

President Obama has said that the use of chemical weapons could change the U.S. response to the Syrian civil war. But why this focus on chemical weapons when conventional weapons have killed tens of thousands in Syria?

The answer can be traced back to the early uses of poison gas nearly a century ago.

In World War I, trench warfare led to stalemates — and to new weapons meant to break through the lines.

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Middle East
3:17 am
Fri April 26, 2013

U.S. Wants More Proof Syria Has Used Chemical Weapons

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 4:59 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Here's the problem faced by President Obama's administration: When the United States says it's going to do something, it will face pressure to actually do it.

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Middle East
4:00 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Obama Calls On Israeli Students To Push For Renewed Peace Talks With Palestinians

Originally published on Sun March 24, 2013 7:23 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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The Two-Way
11:27 am
Thu March 21, 2013

With Obama In Ramallah, Palestinians Take To The Streets

Palestinians protest as U.S. President Barack Obama and Palestinians Authority President Mahmud Abbas meet in Ramallah on Thursday.
Ilia Yefimovich Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 24, 2013 7:23 am

NPR's Larry Abramson is covering President Obama's visit to the Middle East. He sends this dispatch from the West Bank.

There were a lot of irritated Palestinians in the streets of Ramallah today. But it's hard to pinpoint the cause. Were they mad at President Obama, at Israel? Or were they angry at themselves?

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Middle East
12:53 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Israelis, Palestinians Spar Over Controversial Settlement

A Jewish settler looks at the West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim from the E-1 area on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem on Dec. 5. The Israelis are planning a controversial housing project in E-1.
Sebastian Scheiner AP

Originally published on Sun March 24, 2013 7:19 am

In practical terms, a project known as E-1 would provide 3,000 or so new housing units for Israelis in an area between east Jerusalem — which the Palestinians hope will someday be their capital — and the large Israeli settlement of Maaleh Adumim.

But numbers can be deceiving: Palestinians are renewing their objections to the growing number of Israeli settlements, and many fear E-1 could tip the balance in a way that makes an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement impossible.

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Middle East
2:43 am
Tue March 19, 2013

Obama Trip Could Ignite Long-Stalled Peace Talks

Originally published on Sun March 24, 2013 7:17 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

President Obama lands in Israel tomorrow for his first visit to that key American ally as president. He'll also visit sites in the West Bank. The White House has tried to keep expectations low for this visit, but many Israelis are excited and have attached high hopes to Obama's trip.

NPR's Larry Abramson spoke with Israelis and Palestinians, and has this report.

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The Two-Way
1:21 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

After Weeks Of Wrangling, An Israeli Government Takes Shape

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a meeting in Israel's parliament, the Knesset, on Thursday. Netanyahu has reached agreement with other factions to form a coalition government following an election in January.
Gali Tibbon AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 17, 2013 7:55 am

Israel appears to have a new government, nearly two months after parliamentary elections.

Since the voting in January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been trying to put together the pieces of a puzzle that just would not fit.

If he included traditional allies, such as the religious parties, he would close out a chance of forming a government with a popular political newcomer, Yair Lapid.

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Shots - Health News
1:09 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Can Kidney Transplants Ease Strain On Gaza's Health System?

A Palestinian dialysis patient is treated at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City in 2010. Many kidney patients in Gaza struggle to get proper dialysis therapy because machines are often overbooked.
Khalil Hamra AP

Originally published on Sun March 17, 2013 7:54 am

It's no picnic being a kidney patient even in the best conditions. But coming in for dialysis in a place like the Gaza Strip calls for a special kind of patience.

Years of war have placed a constant stress on the health system there. Thanks to a host of factors, Gaza's main hospital, Shifa Hospital, regularly faces supply shortages of medications that kidney patients need to manage nausea and other symptoms.

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Middle East
1:27 am
Mon March 4, 2013

Palestinians Still Feel The Squeeze Of The Restrictions On Gaza

A Palestinian laborer works at the site of a residential construction project funded by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Mar. 21, 2012.
Said Khatib AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 10, 2013 6:43 am

The streets of Gaza are busy, but they are also crumbling.

Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Israel has maintained tight limits on shipments of anything that could be used for military purposes. That includes basic building materials that could be used for bunkers and rocket launching sites.

Ask businessman Ali Abdel Aal what's the toughest thing for him to find, and he'll tell you "cement and gravel."

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Middle East
3:27 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Demonstrators In West Bank Protest Imprisonment Of Palestinians

Originally published on Sun March 3, 2013 6:46 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It was another day of protest in the West Bank. Palestinians are demanding the release of prisoners held in Israeli jails after one prisoner died on Saturday. NPR's Larry Abramson reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF YELLING)

LARRY ABRAMSON, BYLINE: Outside Ofer Prison in the occupied West Bank, young men play cat and mouse with Israeli troops. They get as close as they dare, shoot a few rocks with slingshots, then retreat when the Israelis shoot tear gas canisters.

(SOUNDBITE OF EXPLOSION)

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Middle East
3:46 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Israel Restores Wetlands; Birds Make It Their Winter Home

Cranes fly at sunset above the Hula Valley of northern Israel in January. Millions of birds pass through the area as they migrate south every winter from Europe and Asia to Africa. Some now stay in the Hula Valley for the entire winter.
Menahem Kahana AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 3, 2013 6:45 am

Like many countries, Israel tried to drain many of its swamplands, then realized it was destroying wildlife habitats. So the country reversed course, and has been restoring the wetlands of the Hula Valley in the north.

The effort has had a huge and rather noisy payoff. Unlike many birding sites, where the creatures take off when you approach them, you can practically touch the cranes that inhabit the Hula Valley.

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Middle East
3:33 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

A West Bank Story, Told Through Palestinian Eyes

Emad Burnat, a Palestinian who co-directed the Oscar-nominated documentary 5 Broken Cameras, displays the cameras destroyed by Israeli settlers and security forces. The film focuses on a Palestinian village protesting Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank.
Kino Lorbor Inc. AP

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 6:49 am

The Academy Award-nominated documentary 5 Broken Cameras tells the story of Bil'in, a modest Palestinian village perilously close to an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

After the Israeli government began putting up its West Bank separation barrier, Bil'in resident Emad Burnat picked up a video camera, and in 2005 began a multiyear documentary project.

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Middle East
4:31 am
Wed February 20, 2013

'Prisoner X' Raises Questions About Israel's Secrecy

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 6:49 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In Israel the case of Prisoner X is raising new questions about secrecy and censorship. A Mossad agent by the name of Ben Zygier faced secret charges three years ago, was jailed under a false name and committed suicide in prison. From Jerusalem, NPR's Larry Abramson has a story that until recently was kept secret by military censors.

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Middle East
4:12 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Palestinian Authority Faces Severe Financial Crisis

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 7:41 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The Palestinian Authority is facing a severe financial crisis. Israel has restricted payment of tax revenues to the Authority. That's in response to the Palestinians' successful bid for statehood status at the United Nations, something Israel strongly opposed. As NPR's Larry Abramson reports from Jerusalem, the money shortfall is hurting pocketbooks throughout the West Bank.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHATTER)

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