Mary Louise Kelly

Mary Louise Kelly is national security correspondent for NPR News.

Her reporting tracks the CIA and other spy agencies, terrorism, wars, and rising nuclear powers. As part of the national security team, she has traveled extensively to investigate foreign policy and military issues. Kelly's assignments have taken her from the Khyber Pass to mosques in Hamburg, and from grimy Belfast bars to the deserts of Iraq. In addition to reporting, she serves as a guest host for NPR News programs. Her first assignment at NPR was senior editor of the award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, All Things Considered.

Kelly first launched NPR's intelligence beat in 2004. After one particularly tough trip to Baghdad — so tough she wrote an essay about it for Newsweek — she decided to try trading the spy beat for spy fiction. Her debut espionage novel, Anonymous Sources, was published by Simon and Schuster in 2013. It's a tale of journalists, spies, and Pakistan's nuclear security. Her second novel, The Bullet, followed in 2015.

During her spell away from full-time reporting, Kelly's writing appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Politico, Washingtonian, The Atlantic, and other publications. She also launched and taught a course on national security and journalism at Georgetown University. And she joined The Atlantic as a contributing editor. She continues to hold that role, moderating newsmaker interviews at forums from Aspen to Abu Dhabi.

A Georgia native, Kelly's first job was pounding the streets as a local political reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In 1996, she made the leap to broadcasting, joining the team that launched Public Radio International's The World. The following year Kelly moved to London to work as a producer for CNN and as a senior producer, host, and reporter for the BBC World Service.

Kelly graduated from Harvard University in 1993 with degrees in government and French language and literature. Two years later, she completed a master's degree in European Studies at Cambridge University in England.

On a steamy August afternoon in McLean, Va., not far from CIA headquarters, Daniel Hoffman sits on a coffee shop terrace and reminisces about summer afternoons spent in a different place.

"There's a tennis court, and a little dacha with a sauna," says Hoffman. "And then a big dacha where families could go and get out of the city in the summer and relax."

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

There was a moment last week in Moscow when I had occasion to wonder if I was being surveilled.

"They'll be tracking you from the moment you land," my CIA sources back in Washington had warned, as I prepared for a reporting trip to Russia. "For God's sake, don't log on to your regular email accounts from there."

I've reported from Russia before. I'm careful.

But one evening, typing away in NPR's Moscow bureau, the cursor began to jump around on its own. Words moved. I raised my hands from the keyboard and watched in wonder as the screen went black.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We want to turn now to U.S.-Russia relations. It's been a dizzying change from just a few weeks ago when President Trump had nothing bad to say about Russia. But here he is this past Wednesday at the White House.

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Politics may be at play in the appearance of a draft presidential order that could revive the CIA's "black site" prisons, one former CIA director says.

The appearance of the document, first reported by the New York Times, drew an immediate outcry from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, as well as CIA veterans.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's sort through what we know and don't know about President-elect Trump and Russia. We start with words he resisted saying for months.

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DONALD TRUMP: As far as hacking, I think it was Russia.

William Evanina holds two official job titles: national counterintelligence executive and director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.

Eyes glazing over? Here's a simpler way to think of him: as the nation's spy catcher in chief.

As the head of U.S. counterintelligence, Evanina is in charge of keeping America's secrets out of enemy hands. 2016 has proved an exceptionally challenging year, between Russian hacks and another massive data breach at the National Security Agency.

The world is entering a new cyber era — one with no ground rules, and with the potential for traditional espionage to be "turbocharged" by the Internet, President Obama told NPR in an exclusive interview.

Mike Pompeo, a Republican congressman from Kansas and Donald Trump's pick to run the CIA, is no stranger to Russian intrigue.

After graduating first in his class from West Point in 1986, he headed to Europe. There, according to his official bio, he served as a cavalry officer, "patrolling the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin Wall."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I was boarding a plane to Istanbul when a friend recommended the Yashim series of mystery novels.

Great reads, he told me, about a Turkish detective who whips up marvelous feasts in between solving crimes. That sounded promising, so I downloaded the first book for the flight. And I was hooked, racing through chapters with Yashim as he prowls Istanbul's dark alleys, spice markets and kitchens.

In a cavernous, dimly-lit auditorium in Washington last month, three officials took the stage.

They settled themselves into tan, leather armchairs and fielded questions, including this one: Name a global flashpoint you're looking to with concern?

"North Korea," came the reply from one. "And how the United States and China deal with that situation."

The exchange is worth noting because the three people on stage were current or former CIA officials.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Two very different narratives on the former National Security Agency contractor unfolded this week. Both proved that the debate over whether Edward Snowden is a traitor or a patriot is in no danger of running out of steam.

Two weeks from now in Surrey, England, a coroner's inquest is scheduled for a most peculiar death.

Here are the facts: In November 2012, a 44-year-old man died while out jogging near his Surrey home. The man was reported to have been in robust health, and police declared that the death was not suspicious.

But here are a few more facts: The jogger was a Russian banker who had fled Russia after helping expose tax fraud that implicated both the Mafia and the Russian state. Traces of a rare, poisonous flowering plant were found in his stomach.

In a courtroom in Knoxville, Tenn., the latest legal twist is unfolding in a case involving China — and alleged nuclear espionage.

Szuhsiung "Allen" Ho has been jailed since April. He's a nuclear engineer and consultant, born in Taiwan and educated in the U.S.

Ho's case is one of a number involving scientists the U.S. government suspects may also be spies. The scientists in question are all American citizens; they were all born in mainland China or Taiwan.

Success on the battlefield against the Islamic State won't translate into an immediate reduction in the threat from attacks in the West, the top U.S. counterterrorism leader tells NPR.

Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said the tactical gains the U.S. military and its partners are making in Iraq and Syria are a "necessary" part of quashing the danger it poses — but not "sufficient."

"We do need that success — but there'll be a lag in the benefits we accrue," he said.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Donald Trump on Wednesday called for Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's email and recover messages from her tenure as secretary of state. His comments followed reports that U.S. officials believe Russian hackers stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and arranged for their release.

When you start packing for a reporting trip to Russia, you get a lot of advice.

Take a clean phone, advised my journalist friends in Moscow. Take a clean laptop. That means one that's been wiped and re-imaged and from which I've never logged on with my usual user accounts and passwords. The reason? Russian intelligence will be monitoring you from the moment you land, they said.

"Really?" I replied. "You think they'll be that interested in a random American reporter flying in?"

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

If you were a Soviet spy, chances are you knew your way around the menu at the restaurant Aragvi, in Moscow. That's where Stalin's security chief held court, and where KGB spooks met for power lunches. Movie stars ate there, too, as did cosmonauts. It was the place to be seen for Moscow's elite.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, Aragvi shut down. It stayed shuttered for many years. But it's just reopened.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

It's not every day that the man who ran Russia's foreign espionage service offers to buy you a drink.

I'd been chasing Vyacheslav Trubnikov for an interview, when a message landed in my inbox: Hotel Metropol, 5 o'clock.

The Metropol is one of Moscow's grande dame hotels, just steps from Red Square, with polished dark wood, sparkling crystal decanters, velvet armchairs. Trubnikov settled in and ordered a double espresso.

High on a hill, in a leafy, residential neighborhood between Georgetown and the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the Russian Embassy sits behind tall gates. It was right here, in the 1980s, at the height of the Cold War, that the FBI and the National Security Agency built a tunnel — a secret tunnel that started beneath one of the pleasant-looking houses lining Wisconsin Avenue and extended over to the neighboring embassy.

It was built so that American spies could eavesdrop on what was happening inside.

In Purcellville, Va., on Saturday, CIA veterans are gathering for the funeral of one of the agency's best-known and most flamboyant characters — Duane "Dewey" Clarridge.

Clarridge, known both for founding the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and for his role in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, died April 9 at the age of 83.

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The fallout from Edward Snowden's 2013 spying revelations is not over yet, according to Richard Ledgett, who ran the National Security Agency's investigation into Snowden's leaks.

It's been nearly three years since Snowden, a former contractor for the NSA, told the world about the bulk collection of American phone records.

American intelligence officers are trained to tackle tough targets.

But there are tough targets, and then there's Russian President Vladimir Putin, who plays his cards so closely that it's hard for his own advisers to divine what he's thinking, says Gregory Treverton, chairman of the National Intelligence Council.

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