Jackie Northam

Jackie Northam is Foreign Affairs correspondent for NPR news. The veteran journalist has more than two decades of experience covering the world's hot spots and reporting on a broad tapestry of international and foreign policy issues.

Based in Washington, D.C., Northam is assigned to the leading stories of the day, traveling regularly overseas to report the news - from Afghanistan and Pakistan, to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Northam just completed a five year stint as NPR's National Security Correspondent, covering US defense and intelligence policies. She led the network's coverage of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, traveling regularly to the controversial base to report on conditions there, and on US efforts to prosecute detainees.

Northam spent more than a decade as a foreign correspondent. She reported from Beirut during the war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006, from Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and from Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. She lived in and reported extensively from Southeast Asia, Indochina, and Eastern Europe, where she charted the fall of communism.

While based in Nairobi, Kenya, Northam covered the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. She managed to enter the country just days after the slaughter of ethnic Tutsis began by hitching a ride with a French priest who was helping Rwandans escape to neighboring Burundi.

A native of Canada, Northam's first overseas reporting post was London, where she spent seven years covering stories on Margaret Thatcher's Britain and efforts to create the European Union.

Northam has received multiple journalism awards during her career, including Associated Press awards, regional Edward R. Murrow awards, and was part of an NPR team journalists that won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award.



Mon July 11, 2011
National Security

Popularity Of Drones Takes Off For Many Countries

A model of a surveillance drone by the French Dassault Aviation and the British BAE Systems is on display at the International Paris Air Show in June.
Pierre Verdy AFP/Getty Images

As the U.S. begins withdrawing ground troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, it is increasingly depending on unmanned aerial vehicles to track and kill suspected terrorists and other enemies. That has pushed production of the weaponized drones to new levels.

But remotely controlled aircraft, especially the type used for surveillance, are becoming ubiquitous throughout the world, says Peter Singer, author of Wired for War.

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Wed June 22, 2011
National Security

U.S. Prods Europe On NATO Spending

Defense Secretary Robert Gates urges NATO members to boost defense spending. He is speaking on June 10 in Brussels.
John Thys AFP/Getty Images

One of the calculations in President Obama's decision Wednesday on U.S. troops in Afghanistan is the growing concern about the cost of military operations — not only in that country, but in other areas as well.

Funding for NATO is coming under the microscope amid growing complaints about the U.S. paying a disproportionate share to the alliance.

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Thu June 16, 2011

U.S.-Pakistan Relations Move From Grudging To Toxic

The relationship between the United States and Pakistan has long been one of grudging interdependency. The U.S. needs Pakistan to help in the fight against Islamist militants and to serve as a supply transit route for military operations in Afghanistan. Pakistan needs the U.S. for financial aid, and access to international lenders and the global economy. But neither side much likes nor trusts the other.

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Sun June 5, 2011
Middle East

Yemen Leader's Exit Leaves Shaky Political Ground

Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh, is recovering in a Saudi hospital, following surgery for wounds he suffered in a rocket attack on his palace Friday. Saleh, who has ruled Yemen for 33 years, left with several senior government officials who were also wounded in the attack.

Saleh's departure set off celebrations in Yemen as protesters have tried for the past four months to oust him from power. But there are concerns his absence could create a power vacuum in a country where al-Qaida has a strong base.

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Sun May 29, 2011

Becoming An American: A Proud Canadian's Story


Jackie Northam covers foreign affairs for NPR news. She has spent two decades covering the world's hot spots, reporting on international and foreign policy issues. She was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

The one question that came up repeatedly since I started my U.S. naturalization process nine months ago was: why?

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Fri May 27, 2011

Attack On Pakistani Base Renews Nuclear Qualms

Aircraft wreckage is seen at the Mehran Pakistani naval air base a day after militants attacked it.
Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images

Since Osama bin Laden was killed earlier this month by U.S. Navy SEALs not far from Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, there has been a wave of retaliatory attacks on various installations in Pakistan. That has raised concerns about the safety of the country's nuclear weapons.

One of the most brazen of the recent attacks happened last weekend, when armed militants scaled the wall of the heavily guarded Mehran navy base near the southern city of Karachi. They fought off Pakistan's military, including commandos, for 17 hours.

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Sat May 21, 2011
Middle East

Bahrain Crackdown Puts Pressure On U.S. Diplomacy

Bahraini police fired tear gas to disperse protesters gathered at Pearl Square in Manama on March 13. The square was the epicenter of anti-government protests.
AFP/Getty Images

When popular uprisings swept through Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, President Obama openly threw his support behind the protesters, trumpeting the dual ideals of democracy and freedom.

But that was not the case when the unrest reached Bahrain. The demonstrators, mostly from the majority Shiite population, were calling for reforms in the tiny island kingdom ruled by Sunnis.

The protests quickly turned nasty — scores of people were killed, hundreds wounded. Neighboring Saudi Arabia sent in about 1,000 troops to help quell the demonstrations.

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Wed May 4, 2011
Middle East

Hamas, Fatah Hopeful Reconciliation Deal Will Last

A reconciliation pact is set to be signed on Wednesday in Cairo between two key Palestinian factions: Hamas and Fatah. The deal was brokered by Egypt and by independent Palestinian groups which pushed the long time rivals into mending their differences. Both sides say they know the agreement is fragile and that much work remains.


Tue May 3, 2011
Middle East

Israel Balks At Palestinian Unity Deal

Israel is taking a tough line against a reconciliation deal between two rival Palestinian factions.

A unity agreement is set to be signed Wednesday in Cairo by Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, a hardline Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip. The agreement would help end a bitter four-year divide between the two groups. But Israel considers Hamas a terrorist organization and is leveling punitive actions against the Palestinian government for agreeing to the deal.

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Thu April 28, 2011

Fatah, Hamas Deal Could Effect Mideast Peace Process

There have been upheavals and challenges to the status quo across the Arab world — but not when it comes to the Palestinians, who have been in a stalemate in the peace process with Israel for months.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is preparing to jump-start a push for statehood.

But some believe that initiative could be derailed by a new reconciliation accord between Abbas and the Islamist militants of Hamas, who remain strongly opposed to peace with Israel.

Pressure on the Palestinian Authority

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Wed April 27, 2011
Middle East

Israel Takes Wait-And-See Approach To Syria Unrest

The upheavals sweeping the Arab world are being watched closely by Israel.

The government there was deeply concerned when the Egyptian regime was ousted because of the potential impact on the 32-year-old peace treaty between the two countries.

Now Syria, Israel's neighbor to the north, is on fire, presenting another threat to Israel's long-term stability.

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Thu April 7, 2011
Conflict In Libya

Oil A Major Prize In Fight For Control Of Libya

In the fight for control of Libya, the country's lucrative oil industry is a major prize.

For weeks, the fighting between Libyan rebels and forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has seesawed along a major highway that hugs the Mediterranean coast — one day the rebels capture a strategic city, the next day Gadhafi's forces take it back. It is a vicious fight for control, but then this stretch of coastline is prime real estate because it contains Libya's main oil ports, says Greg Priddy, analyst of global energy and natural resources at Eurasia Group.

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