Greg Myre

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When President Trump shakes hands with Kim Jong Un on Tuesday morning, it will mark the first time that a sitting U.S. president comes face to face with a North Korean leader. Trump once dubbed Kim "Little Rocket Man" and threatened "fire and fury" against his regime, but has expressed optimism about a potential deal with North Korea on denuclearization. "I just think it's going to work out very nicely," he said Monday. But he has also said he is prepared to walk away from the table if talks are not fruitful.

When Mike Pompeo became CIA director last year, he immediately set his sights on North Korea and its opaque nuclear program.

"Within weeks of me coming here, I created a Korea Mission Center, stood it up with a senior leader who had just retired, brought him back to run the organization," Pompeo said in January.

The White House has nominated Navy Adm. Harry Harris to be the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, filling a key post that's been vacant for the first 16 months of the Trump presidency.

The Senate intelligence committee voted 10-5 Wednesday to recommend Gina Haspel as CIA director despite the controversy surrounding her role in the agency's waterboarding program.

The full Senate now appears all but certain to confirm Haspel within the next week or so, which would make her the first woman to lead the CIA.

Her confirmation also would complete President Trump's recent shakeup of his national security and foreign policy teams.

Updated at 3:15 p.m. ET

The Pentagon said Thursday that an investigation into the deaths of four American soldiers in Niger last year found "individual, organizational and institutional failures." But it said no sole reason was responsible for the ambush.

Gina Haspel's appearance before the Senate intelligence committee on Wednesday promises to be a very unusual confirmation hearing.

Most every nominee for a top government job has a long public record that is open for scrutiny. Not so with Haspel, who would be the first woman to lead the CIA.

When Michael Hayden ran the CIA and the National Security Agency, his public comments were largely confined to congressional testimony. Now that he's retired, "I'm on Twitter and I'm on CNN," said Hayden.

He was also the featured guest as dozens of former national security officials and several current ones spoke at a recent conference on threats the U.S. faces.

This story was originally published on Oct. 20, 2017, and is being republished with minor changes to update.

When U.S. troops were ambushed in Niger last October, the widespread reaction was surprise: The U.S. has military forces in Niger? What are they doing there?

The Pentagon has started briefing the families of four soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger last October, and the military acknowledges a series of missteps contributed to the deaths, one family member told NPR.

"I think in any instance where people lose there lives, there were obviously mistakes that were made," said Will Wright, the brother of one of those killed, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright. Will Wright is himself a combat veteran, having served as a staff sergeant in Afghanistan. He and his family were briefed by military officers on Thursday.

John Brennan's tenure as CIA director ended the same day that President Trump entered office last year, and since then, the former spy chief has been a relentless critic of the president.

"I think he is dishonest, he lacks integrity, he has very questionable ethics and morality, and he views the world through a prism of 'how it's going to help Donald Trump?,' " Brennan said in a wide-ranging interview with All Things Considered.

"I just think that he has not fulfilled the responsibilities of the president of the United States," Brennan added.

Gina Haspel, the first woman nominated to lead the CIA, has a five-foot-tall poster of Johnny Cash in her office. She's an avid University of Kentucky basketball fan — though she transferred from that school and graduated from the rival University of Louisville. She majored in journalism.

President Trump likes Mike Pompeo.

Trump's decision to dispatch Pompeo for a secret meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is the latest and most dramatic demonstration of how the president keeps elevating Pompeo's role.

In a turbulent administration, Trump has dismissed several top national security and foreign policy advisers, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The president has nominated Pompeo, the CIA director, to replace Tillerson.

President Trump called Syrian leader Bashar Assad a "monster" on Friday night as he announced airstrikes to punish Assad for an apparent chemical weapons attack against Syrian civilians.

On Saturday morning, a tweet by the Syrian Presidency account showed a video of Assad walking into the presidential palace in Damascus wearing a dark suit and tie, briefcase in hand — business as usual.

Updated at 8:40 p.m. ET

President Trump signed a proclamation Wednesday for the deployment of National Guard troops along the Southern border with Mexico in a bid to cut down on illegal immigration.

Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said earlier in the day that Trump's order would direct her department and the Pentagon to work with governors of the states along the Southwestern border.

Congress was in a generous mood when it passed a spending bill last week, giving the military at minimum an additional $61 billion and boosting its overall budget to $700 billion this year.

Want to work at the CIA? Here's some guidance from Sheronda. We can't use her last name. But we can tell you she's the agency's chief of talent acquisition, or head of recruiting.

So, at what age can you start?

"We are looking for high school students to come in certain occupations," Sheronda said.

The Senate confirmation hearing for Gina Haspel, President Trump's choice to lead the CIA, hasn't yet been scheduled. But several senators have already expressed reservations because of Haspel's role in the CIA's waterboarding of al-Qaida suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, posted this tweet Tuesday:

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President Trump's new pick to lead the CIA is Gina Haspel. She's not a household name, but there's a spotlight on her now and her three-decade career at the agency. NPR's national security correspondent Greg Myre is in the studio with us to talk about Ms. Haspel.

Mike Pompeo, whom President Trump tapped Tuesday to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, has an extraordinary résumé. He graduated at the top of his class at West Point. He served as a tank officer in Europe. He went to Harvard Law School.

He was a corporate lawyer who launched a successful aerospace business. He got elected to Congress as a Tea Party Republican from Kansas in 2010. For more than a year, he has run the CIA.

However, he has never been a diplomat, either by profession or temperament.

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un don't exactly travel in the same circles. Yet there's a man who's spent quality time with both of them: Dennis Rodman.

Trump fired Rodman for misspelling his wife's name when the ex-NBA star appeared on Trump's reality TV show, The Apprentice, in 2013. And Rodman has visited North Korea several times, including last year, to serve as an informal diplomat and basketball guru to Kim.

At first glance, five killings in three states since last May appeared to be unrelated, isolated cases.

But a common thread is emerging. Three young men have been charged, and all appear to have links to the same white supremacist group: the Atomwaffen Division.

Atomwaffen is German for "atomic weapons," and the group is extreme. It celebrates Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson, its online images are filled with swastikas, and it promotes violence.

What weapon did the gunman use in the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida?

If you said the AR-15, you'd be wrong. And we'll explain in a moment.

For more than a half-century, the AR-15 has been popular among gun owners, widely available in gun stores and, for many years, even appeared in the Sears catalog.

Yet over the past decade, the AR-15 and its offshoots have been used in many of the country's worst mass shootings. This has reignited the debate about their widespread availability.

President Trump on Friday announced a fresh round of sanctions against North Korea in an attempt to block oil and other prohibited products from getting to the Asian nation.

"We have imposed the heaviest sanctions ever imposed," Trump said at the conclusion of his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxen Hill, Md., just outside Washington. "Hopefully, something positive can happen. We will see."

Intelligence Infighting

Feb 16, 2018

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Jacob Zuma became South Africa's president in 2009 amid suspicions of corruption. After nine years in office, and many more allegations, he resigned Wednesday after his own African National Congress party told him it was time to go.

Zuma, 75, was a political survivor. But he never escaped the taint of corruption, and his tenure marked the rockiest period in South Africa's post-apartheid era.

China's Spies

Feb 9, 2018

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

An estimated 300 Americans attempted to join the Islamic State and other radical Islamist groups in Iraq and Syria, including a small number who rose to senior positions, according to the most detailed report to date on this issue.

So far, 12 of those Americans have returned home, yet none has carried out an attack on U.S. soil, according the report released Monday by George Washington University's Program on Extremism.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Americans often see provocative presidential tweets, like this one comparing the size of the nuclear buttons in the United States and North Korea:

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