Tom Gjelten

Tom Gjelten covers a wide variety of global security and economic issues for NPR News. He brings to that assignment many years covering international news from posts in Washington and around the world.

Gjelten's overseas reporting experience includes stints in Mexico City as NPR's Latin America correspondent from 1986 to 1990 and in Berlin as Central Europe correspondent from 1990 to 1994. During those years, he covered the wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Colombia, as well as the Gulf War of 1990-1991 and the wars in Croatia and Bosnia.

With other NPR correspondents, Gjelten described the transitions to democracy and capitalism in Eastern Europe and the breakup of the Soviet Union. His reporting from Sarajevo from 1992 to 1994 was the basis for his book Sarajevo Daily: A City and Its Newspaper Under Siege (HarperCollins), praised by the New York Times as "a chilling portrayal of a city's slow murder." He is also the author of Professionalism in War Reporting: A Correspondent's View (Carnegie Corporation) and a contributor to Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know (W. W. Norton).

Prior to his current assignment, Gjelten covered U.S. diplomacy and military affairs, first from the State Department and then from the Pentagon. He was reporting live from the Pentagon at the moment it was hit on September 11, 2001, and he was NPR's lead Pentagon reporter during the war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. Gjelten has also reported extensively from Cuba in recent years, visiting the island more than a dozen times. His 2008 book, Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause (Viking), is a unique history of modern Cuba, told through the life and times of the Bacardi rum family. The New York Times selected it as a "Notable Nonfiction Book," and the Washington Post, Kansas City Star, and San Francisco Chronicle all listed it among their "Best Books of 2008."

Since joining NPR in 1982 as labor and education reporter, Gjelten has won numerous awards for his work. His 1992 series "From Marx to Markets," documenting the transition to market economics in Eastern Europe, won an Overseas Press Club award for "Best Business or Economic Reporting in Radio or TV." His coverage of the wars in the former Yugoslavia earned Gjelten the Overseas Press Club's Lowell Thomas Award, a George Polk Award and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. He was part of the NPR teams that won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for Sept. 11 coverage and a George Foster Peabody Award for coverage of the war in Iraq. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

In addition to reporting for NPR, Gjelten is a regular panelist on the PBS program Washington Week and serves on the editorial board of World Affairs Journal. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, he began his professional career as a public school teacher and a freelance writer.

Pages

National Security
3:19 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Iranian Government May Be Behind Recent Cyber Attacks

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 4:31 pm

Over the last several months, U.S. banks have been subjected to a series of cyber attacks apparently aimed at disrupting normal operations. A volunteer cyber militia group has taken credit for the attacks, saying they are to protest the anti-Islam video that has angered the Muslim world. But U.S. officials and cybersecurity experts are increasingly convinced the government of Iran is behind the attacks. Tom Gjelten talks to Melissa Block.

National Security
3:34 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

CIA Nominee Brennan Has Obama's 'Complete Trust'

John Brennan speaks in the East Room of the White House on Monday, after President Obama announced his nomination of Brennan to run the CIA. Obama also announced his choice of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (left) to head the Department of Defense.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 4:19 pm

President Obama's choice of John Brennan to lead the CIA appears to be less controversial than his decision to nominate former Sen. Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense.

The top Republican on the House intelligence committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, said in a statement Monday that he looks forward to working with Brennan at the CIA. Still, the Brennan nomination will raise questions about Obama's national security policy.

Read more
Latin America
5:02 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Policymakers Planning For A Venezuela After Chavez

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Hugo Chavez has dominated Venezuela for so long that it's hard to imagine what the country would be like without him in charge. Opposition leaders are hoping for a new, more democratic system. But powerful factions in Venezuela want things to stay just as they are. Because the country is a key player in the region, NPR's Tom Gjelten says the U.S. is now making its own plans for life after Chavez.

Read more
Asia
1:25 am
Fri December 14, 2012

What North Korea's Rocket Launch Tells Us About Iran's Role

This monitor screen image shows a graphic of the orbit of the satellite carried by the Unha-3 rocket, which North Korea launched this week. The image is from the Korean Central News Agency, distributed in Tokyo by the Korea News Service.
AP

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 7:03 am

U.S. officials say the satellite put into orbit by North Korea's rocket launch this week is wobbling, but that doesn't necessarily mean the launch itself was unsuccessful.

Read more
National Security
3:39 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

The World In 2030: Asia Rises, The West Declines

The National Intelligence Council's Global Trends 2030 report predicts that by the year 2030, a majority of the world's population will be out of poverty.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 6:44 pm

By the year 2030, for the first time in history, a majority of the world's population will be out of poverty. Middle classes will be the most important social and economic sector. Asia will enjoy the global power status it last had in the Middle Ages, while the 350-year rise of the West will be largely reversed. Global leadership may be shared, and the world is likely to be democratizing.

Read more
Economy
1:31 am
Thu December 6, 2012

What Should The U.S. Learn From Europe's Woes?

French President Francois Hollande (left) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel take part in a bilateral meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels on Nov. 22 as part of a European budget summit.
Bertrand Langlois AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 2:21 pm

As President Obama and Capitol Hill lawmakers assess the need for spending cuts and tax increases against the risk of triggering a new recession, they might look across the Atlantic for insights from those who have already grappled with those budgetary questions.

The problem of excessive government debt has swamped economies across Europe and forced countries to take severe measures to cut their deficits. The first lesson from their "fiscal consolidation" experiences: It will hurt.

Read more
Middle East
4:28 am
Sat December 1, 2012

Shutdowns Raise Issue Of Who Controls The Internet

Night falls on a Syrian rebel-controlled area on Thursday, the same day an Internet blackout struck the country. The cause is still unclear, but many claim the Syrian government was responsible.
Narciso Contreras AP

Originally published on Sat December 1, 2012 2:12 pm

First, it was Egypt. At the height of the protest against the Mubarak regime in 2011, authorities shut the Internet down.

This week, it was Syria. Just as rebel forces there were making big gains, someone pulled the plug on the Internet, and Syria went dark.

Service was restored on Saturday, but Andrew McLaughlin, former White House adviser on technology policy, expects we'll see more of this.

Read more
Middle East
3:37 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Widespread Internet Outages Reported In Syria

Early Thursday morning, the Internet in Syria went dark. Technology analysts suspect the Syrian government was behind the action, perhaps as part of an effort to blunt advances by rebel forces. Governments in recent years have become more mindful of the potentially subversive power of the Internet and also more knowledgeable about how to shut it down. The outage in Syria underscores the importance of current disputes over who should control the global Internet. That issue is the focus of a major international conference next week in Dubai.

Middle East
3:00 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

What Gaza Says About Possible Iran-Israel Showdown

An Israeli missile is launched from the Iron Dome defense system, designed to intercept incoming rockets. This missile was fired from the southern Israeli city of Ashdod in response to a rocket launched from the nearby Palestinian Gaza Strip on Nov. 18.
Jack Guez AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun November 25, 2012 8:01 am

In the Gaza Strip fighting, where a cease-fire was reached Wednesday, the Israeli military pounded Gaza with hundreds of airstrikes. Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that rules Gaza, launched hundreds of rocket attacks on Israel.

The weeklong battle temporarily diverted attention from Iran, the archenemy of Israel and a key ally of Hamas. Israeli leaders have threatened to strike Iran over its nuclear program.

Yet the Gaza fight may offer insights into what a possible confrontation between Israel and Iran would look like.

Read more
U.S.
3:24 am
Sat November 17, 2012

After Benghazi Hearings, Flurry Of Concern Unsettled

After the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Benghazi Friday, Rep. Peter King said he felt U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's comments after the attack may have been sanitized.
Mladen Antonov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 12:16 pm

David Petraeus' resignation from the CIA further complicated the debate over the September attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Petraeus, a key figure in the events, stepped down as director after admitting to an extramarital affair. But members of Congress were so anxious to hear from him that they brought Petraeus back to Capitol Hill on Friday to get his version of the Benghazi story.

Read more
World
12:46 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

U.S. Rethinks Security As Mideast Oil Imports Drop

A U.S. Marine patrol walks across the charred oil landscape near a burning well near Kuwait City in March 1991. Concerns about oil supply were at play when the U.S. and its allies intervened during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. But American policy is changing now that Mideast oil imports to the U.S. are declining.
John Gaps III AP

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 5:00 pm

Within the next two decades, the United States may barely need any oil from the Persian Gulf, due in large part to increased domestic production. That dramatic shift could shake the foundation of U.S. interests in the Middle East.

Read more
National Security
3:37 am
Wed November 14, 2012

Scandals Muddles Military Recommendations

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 6:06 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer. We've steadily been learning more about the people at the center of a military scandal. Retired general - and CIA director - David Petraeus resigned because of an affair.

INSKEEP: The affair was discovered when his mistress confronted another woman.

Read more
NPR Story
3:18 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Washington Surprised By News Of Petraeus Affair

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 3:44 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

The nation's capital this morning is trying to make sense of the sudden resignation last week of CIA director David Petraeus. More details are emerging about the extramarital affair that brought Petraeus down. It came to light following an FBI investigation that was not focused originally on the CIA director, but which soon led straight to him.

Read more
Solve This
11:32 am
Fri October 5, 2012

Candidates Tout Different Routes To 'Energy Security'

President Obama and Mitt Romney are both calling on the U.S. to become less dependent on foreign oil, though their plans differ. Here, workers with Bramwell Petroleum set up a derrick for a new oil well near Spivey, Kan., in March.
Mike Hutmacher MCT/Landov

Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 9:07 pm

The pressing energy issue in the 2008 presidential campaign was how to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming. Four years later, the drive for "green energy" has been replaced by a new imperative: the need to end U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

"I will set a national goal of North American energy independence by 2020," Mitt Romney declared during a campaign speech in August. "That means we produce all the energy we use in North America."

He reiterated that goal in the opening minutes of the presidential candidates' debate in Denver this week.

Read more
Presidential Race
2:44 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Romney's Critiques Of Obama Like Reagan's Of Carter

Originally published on Fri September 14, 2012 3:50 pm

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney says President Obama's foreign policies have sent "confusing messages" to the world. The critique argues that the Obama foreign policy is not muscular enough. It's a message that echoes the presidential campaign of 1980 when Ronald Reagan challenged Jimmy Carter.

National Security
1:39 am
Wed September 12, 2012

Software, Not Just Bullets, Puts Military At Odds

Soldiers use DCGS-A software at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
U.S. Army

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 7:28 pm

Military commanders, government officials and members of Congress have long wrangled over which weapon systems are needed. Now, there's an argument over what computer software should be provided to soldiers in Afghanistan. It's a defense dispute for the digital age.

In recent years, the ability to analyze data has become almost as important to U.S. war-fighters as the guns they use.

Read more

Pages