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.

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4:28pm

Thu October 18, 2012
Solve This

Romney's Defense Plans Call For Higher Spending

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 8:00 pm

U.S. Marines drive amphibious armored personnel carriers in the Philippines on Oct. 9, as part of the annual joint exercises with Philippine counterparts.
Jay Directo AFP/Getty Images

One area where President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney clearly disagree is defense spending. The president wants less, Romney wants more. But the difference in their approaches is about more than money.

When Romney looks at the future, he sees a series of threats: from unrest in the Middle East to a nuclear North Korea to what he sees as a defiant Russia.

Speaking to veterans in Virginia's Fairfax County last month, Romney blamed the Obama administration for cuts that will go into effect unless Congress and the president act.

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4:32am

Fri October 12, 2012
Business

Pentagon Revising Cyber Rules Of Engagement

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 5:36 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with rules of engagement.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Last night, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta issued these words of warning: foreign cyber actors - he said - are probing America's critical infrastructure networks.

As NPR's Larry Abramson reports, Panetta says the Pentagon is revising its cyber rules of engagement, so it can respond to those attacks.

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4:38pm

Wed October 10, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney, Obama Surrogates Clash Over Military Strategy

Originally published on Wed October 10, 2012 5:16 pm

The Romney campaign is putting more meat on the bones of its defense policy, and the result is a muscular, almost hawkish posture.

Dov Zakheim, Mitt Romney's special adviser for foreign policy and national security, went toe-to-toe with Richard Verma, who plays a similar role for the Obama campaign, at a forum Wednesday.

The two tussled for over an hour in a foreign policy debate of sorts at a Washington, D.C., hotel.

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5:02pm

Sat October 6, 2012
Politics

Defense Companies Hold Off On Pink Slips, For Now

Originally published on Sat October 6, 2012 6:44 pm

Air Force F-22 Raptors, made by Lockheed Martin, are prepared for flight operations at Langley Air Force Base. Despite the looming defense spending cuts that would go into effect in January if Congress does not pass a deficit reduction plan, Lockheed Martin and other defense contractors announced this week they would not issue layoff notices.
Gary C. Knapp AP

Major defense companies said this week they will not send out layoff notices to warn of big job cuts in January, taking away the prospect of embarrassing layoff notices right before the November elections.

That's led to charges that the White House overstepped when it told the industry the notices are not needed.

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3:37am

Thu September 27, 2012
National Security

Army Seeks To Curb Rising Tide Of Suicides

Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 9:04 pm

U.S. troops from the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment patrol at dawn in Kandalay, Afghanistan on Aug. 4, 2011. A worldwide stand down for troops to take part in suicide prevention training Thursday is part of the Army's response to an alarming suicide rate of nearly one per day.
Romeo Gacad AFP/Getty Images

At Fort Myer, Va., a small Army base across the river from Washington, D.C., Chaplain Mark Worrell is talking to about 100 soldiers, reciting the grim numbers.

"This year, 2012, there have been more suicides in the Army than combat deaths," he says.

Worrell paces in front of the stage in a small auditorium and talks with the soldiers for more than an hour about the warning signs of suicide. He asks them what they would do if a friend starting selling his tools and lost interest in his favorite hobbies.

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11:51am

Tue September 11, 2012
National Security

Can Counseling Complicate Your Security Clearance?

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 9:57 pm

To get security clearance for jobs in the military or the government, applicants must say whether they've undergone counseling in recent years. Some experts say this question — known as Question 21 — is discouraging people from applying for jobs or from getting help.
Chris Hondros Getty Images

Jennifer Norris was a devoted member of the Maine National Guard.

"I was ecstatic. I absolutely loved serving in the military," she says.

Norris still wanted a career in the Guard even after she was sexually assaulted by other members of the military. After she was raped, she says she got psychological counseling.

But then it came time to renew the security clearance she needed for her job as a satellite communications technician. One question on the form — Question 21 — asked whether she'd sought help from a mental health professional over the past seven years.

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2:38pm

Thu August 9, 2012
All Tech Considered

Report From The Drone Convention: Unmanned Vehicles Find New Uses

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 3:33 pm

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Brian Bills, a flight operations analyst for Lockheed Martin, demonstrates the Procerus VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) Flight System — a surveillance drone for commercial, civil and military customers — at the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference in Las Vegas. (Watch a demo video.)
Kainaz Amaria NPR

5:19pm

Mon July 23, 2012
National Security

Defense Cuts: How Do You Buy 1.8 Submarines?

The Defense Department planned to buy two Virginia-class submarines, like the USS Virginia, per year. A 10 percent across-the-board cut would fund only 1.8 submarines, making the purchase impossible.
Raytheon Co.

Congress created a monster when it decided that the entire government will face across-the-board cuts in January, unless an agreement on deficit reduction is reached.

The deadline for the automatic spending cuts — called sequestration — is now approaching, and the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry say those cuts would be horrible.

The Pentagon, perhaps the world's premier planning agency, views the threat of a 10 percent budget cut like an invasion from Mars. It's too awful, too scary and, as Pentagon press secretary George Little puts it, too "absurd."

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3:03am

Tue July 17, 2012
Law

At An Air Force Base, Allegations Of Sexual Assault

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 3:05 pm

In this June 22 image made from video, female airmen march during graduation at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. A widening sex scandal has rocked Lackland, one of the nation's busiest military training centers. A dozen instructors are being investigated for allegations ranging from abuse to rape.
John L. Mone AP

Opening statements will be made Tuesday in the trial of a former Air Force instructor accused of rape and sexual assault of the young trainees in his care.

Staff Sgt. Luis Walker faces 28 charges and could be sentenced to life in prison. A total of 12 Air Force instructors are under investigation for allegedly abusing recruits at Lackland Air Force Base, the main Air Force training center.

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4:13pm

Thu June 28, 2012
Law

Supreme Court Strikes Down Stolen Valor Act

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 7:32 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

More now on the Supreme Court where health care was not the only case decided today. The justices struck down the Stolen Valor Act, which made it a crime to lie about receiving military decorations or medals. The Court ruled it may be unethical to lie about receiving the Medal of Honor, but it's protected speech under the First Amendment.

NPR's Larry Abramson reports that veterans groups are disappointed, but they say the decision leaves room for Congress to try again.

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3:05am

Tue June 19, 2012
U.S.

Pentagon Revamps Rules On Reporting Sex Crimes

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 9:48 am

Producer Amy Ziering and Director Kirby Dick accept an award at this year's Sundance Film Festival for their documentary The Invisible War, which looks at sex crimes in the military.
Jemal Countess Getty Images

The Pentagon has announced new steps to deter assaults and make it easier to prosecute offenders, a move that follows President Obama's recent remark that sexual assault "has no place" in the U.S. military.

Still, many victims believe it will be difficult to change a military culture that makes it tough for the victims to report these crimes.

For victims, the nightmare starts with the attack. Many say that things get worse when they try to do something about it.

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5:38pm

Fri June 15, 2012
National Security

50 Years After A Cold War Drama, A Silver Star

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 6:58 pm

This undated photo of Francis Gary Powers shows him standing next to a U-2 spy plane. Powers was shot down and captured in the Soviet Union in 1960 and held for nearly two years. He was posthumously awarded a Silver Star at the Pentagon on June 15.
AP/Allied Museum

When an experimental U.S. spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960, the U.S. government quickly came up with elaborate cover stories.

"The plane [Soviet leader Nikita] Khrushchev reported shot down inside Russian territory presumably is an American, single-engine jet, a U-2 reported missing on a flight along the Turkish-Russian border last Sunday," a broadcast at the time said. "The national space agency has been flying these planes, 10 of them, in many parts of the world, studying the upper atmosphere."

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10:06am

Tue June 5, 2012
The Two-Way

Get Out Of The Way Or Get Whacked: Scene From A Motorcade In Vietnam

They'd better get out of the way: A Hanoi street scene.
Peter Kneffel dpa/Landov

(NPR's Larry Abramson is among the correspondents traveling with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Asia this week. Monday, he told us about a poignant exchange of artifacts. Today, he gives us a glimpse of what it's like to be in the secretary's motorcade.)

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2:49am

Mon June 4, 2012
Asia

U.S. Works To Rebuild Ties In Asia-Pacific

Originally published on Mon June 4, 2012 11:10 am

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hands out coins to members of the crew as he visits USNS Richard E. Byrd in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, on Sunday. Panetta toured the former U.S. air and naval base in the bay, becoming the most senior American official to go there since the war ended.
Jim Watson AP

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is trying to send a message during a weeklong trip to the Asia-Pacific region: The U.S. is back.

Panetta continues Monday to Vietnam, where he's hoping to build stronger defense ties. The trip began Sunday with a historic return to a key crossroads of the Vietnam War: Cam Ranh Bay.

Panetta boarded a little ferry boat Sunday in the beautiful natural harbor north of Ho Chi Minh City. On board, he asked about his destination: the USNS Richard E. Byrd, a big supply ship docked on the other side of the bay.

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1:46pm

Mon May 28, 2012
All Tech Considered

Vintage Spy Plane Gives High-Tech Drone A Run For Its Money

Originally published on Mon May 28, 2012 4:01 pm

The Air Force's U-2 spy plane first took flight in August 1955 and has been in commission ever since.
USAF Getty Images

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