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.

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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.

When Defense Secretary Ashton Carter landed in Iraq for a surprise visit this week, he came armed with this news: More than 200 additional U.S. troops are headed to that country. They'll join the fight to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State.

As that battle unfolds on the ground, a parallel war against ISIS is unfolding in cyberspace.

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

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

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Here's one way to think about Osama bin Laden: as the one-time leader of a now fading terror network. Most terror experts believe that al-Qaida today has been eclipsed by the even more savage Islamic State, or ISIS.

But here's another way to think about bin Laden: as a man who understood that one of the greatest threats to his group came from other jihadists.

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

John Brennan is walking with a limp these days — a testament to the hazards of shoveling your own driveway. Even the director of the CIA had to dig out just like the rest of us, after last month's blizzard shut down Washington, D.C.

But this past weekend, once he settled into a leather armchair at the head of the table where he holds daily staff meetings, Brennan held forth on subjects ranging from Syria to cybersecurity to the state of ISIS. NPR interviewed Brennan on Saturday at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.

Here are some of the highlights:

Mary Louise Kelly, NPR guest host and former intelligence correspondent, sent this report from ThrillerFest, a gathering of thriller writers in New York City.

"I have two words for you: Tom Cruise."