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.



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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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.


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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Mon April 11, 2011

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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Fri March 25, 2011
Conflict In Libya

Financial Sanctions Part Of Arsenal Against Gadhafi

The military objective of the Libya campaign is to protect civilians, but the U.S. and other governments have a larger goal: They want Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi out of power. And if airstrikes and 1,000 or so rebel fighters cannot bring down the regime, the anti-Gadhafi effort will depend on financial sanctions.

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