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.

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President Trump tweeted on Thursday that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will retire "with distinction" at the end of February. Shortly after, the Pentagon released a letter of resignation from Mattis addressed to the President.

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A former Army Green Beret officer who was awarded the Silver Star, the nation's third highest award for valor, for his actions in a fierce 2010 battle in Marjah, Afghanistan, was notified last week he is being charged by the Army with premeditated murder.

That officer is Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, a 2008 West Point graduate. The victim was an unarmed Afghan whom Golsteyn suspected of being a Taliban fighter who made a bomb that killed two Marines from his unit in the Marjah fighting.

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Largely missing from the flood of remembrances of the late President George H.W. Bush is the role he played as Ronald Reagan's vice president in what came to be known as the Iran-Contra Affair.

It's an episode that clouded an otherwise remarkable career in public service.

Perhaps Bush's most well-known involvement in the affair was his absolution of some of those in the know about it.

In the mud-filled sports complex where some 6,200 Central American migrants have been mired near the U.S. border in Tijuana, a 20-year-old Honduran named Josue Pineda awaits his turn for an open-air cold water shower. He's thinking about his next move, given the near impossibility of realizing his goal of crossing the border into the United States.

Pineda is one of a growing number of newly arrived migrants in Tijuana who have started thinking about Mexico as their next home.

In Tijuana, Mexico, patience is wearing thin.

It is wearing thin for the thousands of Central American migrants camped out in Tijuana next to the U.S. border, and for the city's residents, some of whom are demanding those migrants be sent home. And indeed a growing number are returning, discouraged by the bleak prospects for meeting their goal of entering the United States and asking for asylum.

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President Trump responded to criticism on Friday that he seemed to endorse U.S. troops shooting at rock-throwing immigrants on the Southwest border.

"If our soldiers or border patrol or ICE are going to be hit in the face with rocks, we're going to arrest those people – that doesn't mean shoot them," he told reporters outside the White House. "But we're going to arrest those people quickly and for a long period of time."

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President Trump declared over the weekend that the U.S. is pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Arms Control Treaty. Now, President Ronald Reagan signed this treaty with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the White House 31 years ago.

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Exactly one year ago, President Trump publicly vowed to win the war in Afghanistan even though he said his original instinct was to pull out.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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It may seem counter-intuitive and head-scratchingly odd, but Congress nearly always approves defense spending bills before the armed services committees — which actually oversee the Pentagon — vote on how the money will be spent.

Not this year.

Back from his third trip to North Korea in as many months, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sounded buoyant.

"President Trump remains upbeat about the prospects for North Korean denuclearization. Progress is happening," he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 25. "We need Chairman Kim Jong Un to follow through on his commitments that he made in Singapore."

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Over the past week-and-a-half, President Trump has had quite a lot to say on defense matters.

For all the bad blood between the U.S. and Russia over the years, they still inspect each other's vast nuclear arsenals and both have sharply curtailed the number of nuclear weapons poised to launch. That is thanks to two arms control treaties, which are now at risk.

But at their Helskini summit, President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have embraced restarting stalled arms control talks.

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President Trump has been making plenty of claims about how much the U.S. contributes to NATO while portraying other members of the alliance as deadbeats. Here is some of what he has said and how those statements stand up to the facts.

The Claim

Sitting down to breakfast in Brussels just before the NATO plenary session Wednesday, Trump accused NATO allies of being freeloaders:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is heading back to North Korea on Thursday to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other senior officials.

His mission: to flesh out the details of a vaguely worded joint declaration that Kim signed with President Trump in Singapore last month.

In that document, the U.S. pledges security guarantees for North Korea, while North Korea commits to "work toward a complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."

For more than a decade, if you wanted to know how many U.S. troops there were in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan, you could readily find that information at a public Pentagon website that's updated every three months.

But since late last year, the Pentagon's stopped posting those numbers for Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

If all goes as planned, a long-anticipated ceremony will be held in Fort Worth, Texas on the first official day of summer. It's to mark the nation of Turkey taking possession of its first F-35 jet fighter.

The F-35 is widely considered the world's most advanced and versatile warplane. Not only has Turkey ordered more than 100 of them - it's also part of a nine-nation consortium manufacturing the 300,000 parts that make up Lockheed Martin's 5th-generation stealth fighter.

A drone! Miami Beach! A water slide! Sly Stallone! Machu Picchu! (Macchu Picchu?)

Those are only a few of the many, many images that flit by as you watch a four-minute video created by the Trump administration (specifically, the National Security Council), which the White House posted to its Facebook page Wednesday morning.

The day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took the oath of office in early May, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert declared that four letters — CVID — would be the Trump administration's dogma for dealing with North Korea and its nuclear weapons arsenal.

Should President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet after all next month in Singapore, their discussions will center on one seven-syllable word: denuclearization.

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