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.

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2:59pm

Thu November 3, 2011
National Security

China, Russia Top List Of U.S. Economic Cyberspies

A poster warns U.S. companies of the threat of cyber-espionage. A new report released Thursday names China and Russia as the top culprits in the theft of U.S. intellectual property and technology.
Courtesy of the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive

Privately, U.S. officials have long complained that China and Russia are out to steal U.S. trade secrets, intellectual property and high technology. But in public they've been reluctant to point fingers and instead have referred obliquely to "some nations" or "our rivals."

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2:59am

Wed November 2, 2011
National Security

Stuxnet Raises 'Blowback' Risk In Cyberwar

Originally published on Fri November 4, 2011 5:53 pm

Instructor Mark Fabro leads an exercise at the Department of Homeland Security's cyberdefense facility at the Idaho National Laboratory in September. Training at the lab is intended to help protect the nation's power, water and chemical plants, electrical grid and other facilities from computer viruses such as Stuxnet.
Mark J. Terrill AP

The Stuxnet computer worm, arguably the first and only cybersuperweapon ever deployed, continues to rattle security experts around the world, one year after its existence was made public.

Apparently meant to damage centrifuges at a uranium enrichment facility in Iran, Stuxnet now illustrates the potential complexities and dangers of cyberwar.

Secretly launched in 2009 and uncovered in 2010, it was designed to destroy its target much as a bomb would. Based on the cyberworm's sophistication, the expert consensus is that some government created it.

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2:00am

Fri October 21, 2011
Europe

Eurozone Debt Crisis Divides France, Germany

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, host: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

ARI SHAPIRO, host: And I'm Ari Shapiro filling in for Steve Inskeep.

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2:31am

Mon September 26, 2011
World

Security Expert: U.S. 'Leading Force' Behind Stuxnet

Originally published on Mon September 26, 2011 2:00 pm

German cybersecurity expert Ralph Langner warns that U.S. utility companies are not yet prepared to deal with the threat presented by the Stuxnet computer worm, which he says the U.S. developed.
Courtesy of Langner Communications

One year ago, German cybersecurity expert Ralph Langner announced that he had found a computer worm designed to sabotage a nuclear facility in Iran. It's called Stuxnet, and it was the most sophisticated worm Langner had ever seen.

In the year since, Stuxnet has been analyzed as a cyber-superweapon, one so dangerous it might even harm those who created it.

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10:01pm

Sun September 18, 2011
Europe

Europe's Dilemma: More Integration Or Less?

European governments seem to be having a hard time deciding whether to come together or drift apart at a time of economic uncertainty.

Years from now, historians will no doubt say this was a crisis waiting to happen. The people who came up with the idea of a eurozone stopped halfway. The participating countries would use a common currency, but they wouldn't have common tax and spending policies — a monetary union but not a fiscal union.

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10:01pm

Thu September 15, 2011
Afghanistan

U.S. Now Relies On Alternate Afghan Supply Routes

For the first seven years of the Afghanistan war, almost all U.S. and NATO supplies were trucked overland to Afghanistan through parts of Pakistan effectively controlled by the Taliban. Here, smoke and flame rise from a burning NATO supplies oil tanker after armed militants torched the tankers in Mithri, Pakistan, Feb. 7.
STR AFP/Getty Images

Napoleon declared that "an army marches on its stomach," and Gen. Omar Bradley said, "amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics." Successful military commanders have long recognized that few requirements rank higher in wartime than the need to maintain reliable supply lines.

Nowhere is that adage more relevant than in Afghanistan, a landlocked country flanked by hostile or wary neighbors. The shipment of supplies and equipment to U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan over the last 10 years has been handicapped by high costs, pilferage, and the threat of ambush.

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3:38am

Sat September 3, 2011
National Security

WikiLeaks Now Victim Of Its Own Leak

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, once said his mission was not simply to divulge secrets, but to make sure the release of that information actually made a difference.

He shared his trove of diplomatic cables with The New York Times, the Guardian in London, and other news organizations so they could draw the world's attention to the most important parts.

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2:40pm

Mon August 15, 2011
Europe

Germans Debate The Cost Of Keeping A Eurozone

Originally published on Mon August 15, 2011 4:36 pm

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy met in Berlin last month for negotiations on the European debt crisis. They meet again on Tuesday in Paris in another attempt to stabilize the faltering economies in the eurozone.
Ferdinand Ostrop AP

Within weeks, Europe's spreading debt crisis will force Germany to decide on one of the most critical questions in the Continent's postwar history: Will currency union be strengthened or weakened?

Germany, with the biggest and healthiest economy, has to make the call, and this has prompted a fierce national debate.

The 17 European countries that use the euro as their common currency have such widely varying debt burdens that they cannot survive as a single eurozone unless the strongest rescue the weakest.

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2:31pm

Thu August 11, 2011
Economy

In Current Crisis, It's Not Just The Economy

Three years ago, the global economy was brought to the brink by a near meltdown of the international banking system. Now we're in trouble again, but this time our economic woes stem largely from the actions of governments. Escaping from this crisis is more of a political challenge than a financial one.

That doesn't necessarily mean it will be any easier.

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2:00am

Tue August 9, 2011
Economy

Business In Spain Have A Tough Time Getting Credit

The latest phase of the European debt crisis was sparked by a fear that the troubles plaguing Greece, Portugal and Ireland would spread to Spain and Italy. Spain has been struggling for more than two years with an unemployment rate above 20 percent — the highest in Europe.

3:00am

Wed August 3, 2011
Economy

Debt-Ceiling Deal Does Little For Global Economic Ills

With the fight over the U.S. debt ceiling finally over, investors are free again to focus on all the economic challenges that lie ahead, but they are finding little reason to celebrate. Stock markets around the world fell sharply on Tuesday, skipping the "relief rally" that customarily follows the resolution of a crisis.

In the United States, signs of a serious economic slowdown had been building up, though with attention focused on the debt-ceiling debate, the news had apparently not yet sunk in.

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3:00pm

Fri July 29, 2011
World

Debt Lessons From Around The World

Thousands demonstrate outside the Spanish parliament in Madrid last month in a protest against rampant unemployment and biting austerity measures.
Pedro Armestre AFP/Getty Images

As members of Congress spar over whether to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, they might consider the efforts of other governments to manage their own debt problems. Some have been successful — some not — but all their experiences are instructive, with lessons for Washington.

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