Mary Louise Kelly 2010 i
Doby Photography/NPR
Mary Louise Kelly 2010
Doby Photography/NPR

Mary Louise Kelly

National Security Correspondent

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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Russia Ramps Up Its Military Presence In The Arctic Circle

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Russia Aims To Profit Big From Arktika, World's Largest Icebreaker Ship

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Russia Deploys World's Largest, Most Powerful Icebreaker

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At the height of the Cold War, the FBI and the National Security Agency built a secret tunnel beneath the Russian Embassy (shown here in 2013), so that American spies could eavesdrop on what was happening inside. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

toggle caption J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Decades After Cold War's End, U.S.-Russia Espionage Rivalry Evolves

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Trump Is On The Right Track By Toning Down Rhetoric, Dole Says

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France Faces Multiple Challenges Of Floods, Strikes And Now Soccer

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U.S. Intelligence Officials Carry On Tradition Of Briefing Presidential Candidates

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Sabrina De Sousa, shown here at her Washington home in 2012, is a former CIA officer who was convicted in absentia by an Italian court for the 2003 abduction of a terrorism suspect, cleric Abu Omar, in Milan, Italy. She was detained in Portugal and could be extradited to Italy. The Washington Post/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption The Washington Post/Getty Images

Will An Ex-CIA Spy Go To Prison In Italy?

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Is There Evidence Of Saudi Deception In The Sept. 11 Report?

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ISIS Uses Cyber Capabilities To Attack The U.S. Online

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Duane "Dewey" Clarridge, a CIA veteran, speaks in May 2007 during an Arkansas Committee on Foreign Relations luncheon in Little Rock, Ark. The retired spy criticized the CIA's leadership and said a lack of human intelligence had led to mistakes in Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Mike Wintroath/AP hide caption

toggle caption Mike Wintroath/AP

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, shown here at the Pentagon in March, has said the "new breed of warrior" — cyberwarriors — will be expected to fight just as hard as their colleagues on conventional battlefields. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Rules For Cyberwarfare Still Unclear, Even As U.S. Engages In It

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U.S.-Led Campaign Claws Back Turf From ISIS

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Director John Brennan Says CIA Will Not Torture Terror Suspects Again

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Supreme Court Upholds 'One Person, One Vote' Standard

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