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Larry Abramson 2010

Larry Abramson

Larry Abramson is NPR's National Security Correspondent. He covers the Pentagon, as well as issues relating to the thousands of vets returning home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Prior to his current role, Abramson was NPR's Education Correspondent covering a wide variety of issues related to education, from federal policy to testing to instructional techniques in the classroom. His reporting focused on the impact of for-profit colleges and universities, and on the role of technology in the classroom. He made a number of trips to New Orleans to chart the progress of school reform there since Hurricane Katrina. Abramson also covers a variety of news stories beyond the education beat.

In 2006, Abramson returned to the education beat after spending nine years covering national security and technology issues for NPR. Since 9/11, Abramson has covered telecommunications regulation, computer privacy, legal issues in cyberspace, and legal issues related to the war on terrorism.

During the late 1990s, Abramson was involved in several special projects related to education. He followed the efforts of a school in Fairfax County, Virginia, to include severely disabled students in regular classroom settings. He joined the National Desk reporting staff in 1997.

For seven years prior to his position as a reporter on the National Desk, Abramson was senior editor for NPR's National Desk. His department was responsible for approximately 25 staff reporters across the United States, five editors in Washington, and news bureaus in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. The National Desk also coordinated domestic news coverage with news departments at many of NPR's member stations. The desk doubled in size during Abramson's tenure. He oversaw the development of specialized beats in general business, high-technology, workplace issues, small business, education, and criminal justice.

Abramson joined NPR in 1985 as a production assistant with Morning Edition. He moved to the National Desk, where he served for two years as Western editor. From there, he became the deputy science editor with NPR's Science Unit, where he helped win a duPont-Columbia Award as editor of a special series on Black Americans and AIDS.

Prior to his work at NPR, Abramson was a freelance reporter in San Francisco and worked with Voice of America in California and in Washington, D.C.

He has a master's degree in comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley. Abramson also studied overseas at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and at the Free University in Berlin, Germany.

  • Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel returned to the Mideast on Monday after a weekend tour of Afghanistan and a stop in Pakistan. The trip focused on a planned security deal with Afghanistan and concerns among Gulf allies about a nuclear deal with Iran.
  • On Capitol Hill, another red-letter budget deadline is fast approaching. The Senate and House budget chairs are working toward an agreement on spending levels that they are supposed to be announced by the end of next week.
  • The United States military flew two B-52 bombers into air space that China recently designated as an air defense identification zone. The showdown is part of a larger dispute involving China and Japan and territorial rights in the East China Sea.
  • Several new developments put the NSA surveillance program into the spotlight this week. The U.S. had to explain why it eavesdrops on foreign leaders; The Washington Post reported that the NSA can tap directly into overseas servers of Google and Yahoo; and lawmakers have introduced legislation to rein in the program that allows NSA to gather phone data on Americans.
  • The head of the NSA testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday. General Keith Alexander disputed news reports that the NSA collected the phone call data of citizens in France and Spain. The NSA is facing tough criticism over its extensive surveillance efforts, including the apparent monitoring of phone calls of the leaders of countries that are close U.S. allies. The NSA controversy has also prompted legislators to change the way the agency conducts surveillance. Two reforms aim to limit the NSA's ability to collect the phone records of U.S. persons in bulk.
  • A service called Tor makes it possible to communicate and surf the web anonymously. It sounds like a plot by privacy-minded rebels, but in fact the service receives most of its funding from the government and was started by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Despite recent revelations of government email snooping, the U.S. government supports anonymous communication so foreign dissidents can work undetected, and so government agents can pursue bad guys without giving away their identities. But now the service faces new accusations that it might be serving NSA surveillance efforts.
  • Documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden indicate the NSA may have installed backdoors on encryption products. It's not clear exactly what's going on but the stories have unleashed plenty of fear and loathing in the closed world of encryption researchers.
  • During the run-up to possible military action in Syria, the name of an unknown researcher was catapulted into the spotlight. Elizabeth O'Bagy was on NPR, Fox and quoted by Senator John McCain during a hearing. It turns out, O'Bagy is not exactly who she said she was, and her story reveals a lot about how Washington works during times of high drama.
  • The National Security Agency violated special court restrictions on the use of a database of telephone calls, but the NSA says it fixed those problems. That's the bottom line from more documents declassified by the director of National Intelligence. The document dump is part of an effort to share more details about NSA surveillance activities that were uncovered by former government contractor Edward Snowden.
  • Congress is trying to fashion language that would restrict U.S. involvement in Syria from escalating. But lawmakers often find it uncomfortable to rein in the commander in chief once U.S. forces have been committed.