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. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, he began his professional career as a public school teacher and a freelance writer.

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7:09am

Sat July 23, 2011
U.S.

U.S. Looks To European Allies For Defense Help

With U.S. military spending coming under new pressure from congressional budget cutters, Pentagon planners want European allies to pick up a greater share of the defense burden. The question is which way to look.

West European countries are the most accustomed to working with the U.S. military, but they are now the least inclined to invest in defense. To the east, the former Soviet bloc countries are generally eager to help, but their militaries have less experience in joint operations with their U.S. counterparts.

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3:00pm

Wed July 20, 2011
National Security

FBI Arrests Alleged 'Anonymous' Hackers

The 14 people arrested Tuesday in a crackdown on the Anonymous hacking group are not suspected of having links to criminal gangs, terrorist networks or foreign governments. They are alleged only to have participated in attacks on PayPal's website, after that company cut off payments to WikiLeaks.

But the FBI was determined to go after them anyway.

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12:01am

Fri July 15, 2011
National Security

U.S. Military Unveils Cyberspace Strategy

The U.S. military can fight on land, in the air, at sea and in space. Now it has a strategy for operations in a new domain: cyberspace.

Under a new plan unveiled Thursday, the Defense Department said it is preparing to treat cyberspace "as an operational domain," with forces specially organized, trained and equipped to deal with cyberthreats and opportunities.

The strategy presumes that "cyberattacks will be a significant component of any future conflict" and that the United States must be prepared to retaliate, possibly even with military force.

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3:00pm

Thu June 16, 2011
National Security

Al-Qaida Chooses New Leader

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian eye doctor who long served as Osama bin Laden's deputy, has been officially chosen as al-Qaida's new leader. Zawahiri was already the group's operational commander and main spokesman, and he was widely expected to succeed Osama bin Laden. Some al-Qaida members have complained that Zawahiri is uninspiring and divisive as a leader, and terrorism experts say he will need to demonstrate that he can direct the terror network as skillfully as bin Laden did.

12:01am

Thu June 16, 2011
Technology

For Recent Cyberattacks, Motivations Vary

Computer users have for years struggled with viruses, worms and all sorts of malware. But the most recent cyberattacks have targeted institutions whose computer systems were thought to be relatively secure: the French Ministry of Finance, Sony, Lockheed Martin, Citibank, even the International Monetary Fund.

"These are first class attacks," says Luis Gorrons, technical director for Panda Security, a global cybersecurity firm. "We were always seeing attacks on small and medium companies, but now we're seeing that many big companies are being targeted and successfully attacked."

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12:01am

Thu June 9, 2011
Technology

Divisions Seen In Administration Over Cyberthreats

A long-standing debate within the Obama administration over how to characterize the cyberthreat has complicated the U.S. effort to lay out a government-wide cybersecurity strategy.

At issue is whether the nation faces the prospect of cyberwar and needs to prepare for it. The Pentagon says yes. Howard Schmidt, the White House coordinator for cybersecurity, sees such talk as "hype" and rejects the "cyberwar" term.

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7:48am

Sat May 14, 2011
National Security

Spinning The Bin Laden Tale

The operation against Osama bin Laden was more than just a military raid. It was also an opportunity to attack bin Laden's image and ideology.

The war on al-Qaida is in part a propaganda struggle, fought with the aim of changing attitudes in the Muslim world.

Finding and killing bin Laden was not enough. Almost as important was what came afterward: the work of telling the story of the operation in such a way as to advance U.S. interests.

The Bin Laden Narrative

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12:01am

Thu May 5, 2011
National Security

Did Harsh Interrogation Tactics Lead To Bin Laden?

To find Osama bin Laden, U.S. officials first had to find the man who served as his courier. But the operation that killed the al-Qaida leader has stirred up some controversy: Some of the information about the courier may have come as the result of harsh CIA interrogations.

NPR has learned the courier was a Kuwait-born Pakistani who went by the name Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. It was in his house that U.S. forces found and killed bin Laden.

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6:03pm

Tue May 3, 2011
Osama Bin Laden Killed

Bin Laden's Death Revives Debate Over Interrogation

U.S. officials say Osama bin Laden was found by tracking his most trusted courier. Knowledge about that courier was gleaned in part through the interrogation of detainees, either at Guantanamo or in CIA prisons. Supporters of the Bush administration's detention policies say the bin Laden operation demonstrated that "enhanced interrogation" tactics actually worked to provide valuable information. Some intelligence officials say that argument is too simplistic.

4:00am

Mon May 2, 2011
NPR Story

U.S. Military Team Targeted Bin Laden In Pakistan

U.S. helicopters hit a fortified compound in an affluent Pakistani suburb of Islamabad. Intelligence officials discovered the compound last summer while monitoring an al-Qaida courier.

4:54am

Thu April 28, 2011
The Guantanamo Papers

Judges Question Evidence On Guantanamo Detainees

A side-by-side comparison of the Pentagon's secret Guantanamo detainee assessment briefs and federal court rulings involving those detainees shows that intelligence analysts and federal judges can reach starkly opposing conclusions, even while relying on the same raw intelligence.

The Pentagon's threat profiles suggest little doubt about the prisoners' alleged terrorism record, but in some cases, federal judges have been unimpressed by those conclusions. The classified Guantanamo assessment reports were obtained recently by The New York Times and shared with NPR.

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4:00am

Mon April 25, 2011
NPR News Investigations

'High-Risk' Detainees Released From Guantanamo

NPR, along with The New York Times, is reporting on hundreds of classified documents concerning detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The documents were originally leaked to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, and come from the Pentagon's Joint Task Force at Guantanamo. In the papers, the government assesses the dangers posed by the detainees. An NPR investigation shows that some detainees, considered likely to pose a threat to the U.S. if they were released, were indeed let go.

9:51pm

Sun April 24, 2011
NPR News Investigations

Detainees Transferred Or Freed Despite 'High Risk'

An NPR investigation of secret military documents from the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay details the system used to assess how dangerous the detainees would be if released.

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12:01am

Mon April 11, 2011
Economy

World Bank: Fight Poverty with Political Reform

The global economy has largely recovered from the crisis of 2008, but when finance ministers from around the world gather in Washington this week, they will still face sobering challenges. World trade talks are on the verge of collapse, and the uprisings in the Arab world show that unemployment and corruption can shake up governments that otherwise seem stable.

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