Carrie Johnson

Carrie Johnson is a Justice Correspondent for the Washington Desk.

She covers a wide variety of stories about justice issues, law enforcement and legal affairs for NPR's flagship programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as the Newscasts and NPR.org.

While in this role, Johnson has chronicled major challenges to the landmark voting rights law, a botched law enforcement operation targeting gun traffickers along the Southwest border, and the Obama administration's deadly drone program for suspected terrorists overseas.

Prior to coming to NPR in 2010, Johnson worked at the Washington Post for 10 years, where she closely observed the FBI, the Justice Department and criminal trials of the former leaders of Enron, HealthSouth and Tyco. Earlier in her career, she wrote about courts for the weekly publication Legal Times.

Outside of her role at NPR, Johnson regularly moderates or appears on legal panels for the American Bar Association, the American Constitution Society, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and others. She's talked about her work on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, PBS, and other outlets.

Her work has been honored with awards from the Society for Professional Journalists and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. She has been a finalist for the Loeb award for financial journalism and for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news for team coverage of the massacre at Fort Hood, Texas.

Johnson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Benedictine University in Illinois.

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News
2:00 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Holder Addresses Killing Of American Terrorism Suspects

Attorney General Eric Holder spoke in Chicago on Monday on the legal rationales for targeting and killing Americans suspected of terrorism overseas. Carrie Johnson talks to Melissa Block.

The Two-Way
5:23 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Judge Who Emailed Racist Obama Joke Calls For Investigation On Himself

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 5:32 pm

U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull says he will apologize to President Obama and ask for a panel of judges to investigate his conduct after a Montana newspaper reported he had sent a racially inflammatory message using his courthouse email account last month.

The Great Falls Tribune reported the judge had forwarded the following message to six of his friends February 20:

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National Security
2:00 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

White House Issues New Rules On Al-Qaida Suspects

In defiance of Congress, the Obama administration has issued new rules on how it will comply with a defense law mandating that many al-Qaida suspects be sent into military custody: It will issue waivers in many cases. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Wednesday on the trouble with waivers and the need for flexibility in dealing with suspects.

NPR Story
2:00 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

Court: Unscrambling Hard Drive Is Unconstitutional

Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 5:36 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

For the first time, a federal appeals court has ruled that prosecutors cannot force a suspect to unscramble his encrypted computer hard drives. The Atlanta-based appeals court says that would violate the man's Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination.

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The Two-Way
3:31 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

In Speech, Top Pentagon Lawyer Defends Targeted Killing Program

The top lawyer at the Pentagon offered a strong defense of the Obama administration's targeted killing program Wednesday, arguing the use of lethal force against the enemy is a "long-standing and long-legal practice."

In a speech at Yale University's Law School, Jeh Johnson said there's no real difference between high tech strikes against members of al-Qaida today and the U.S. military decision to target an airplane carrying the commander of the Japanese Navy in 1943.

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It's All Politics
3:56 pm
Thu February 2, 2012

Lawmaker Leading Probe: 'Someone Needs To Go' At Justice Over Fast And Furious

Attorney General Eric Holder testifies Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

The Republican lawmaker who has been leading a yearlong investigation into the failed gun-trafficking operation known as Fast and Furious acknowledged Thursday that the probe has turned up no evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder approved the idea.

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Law
11:01 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

GOP Seeks Big Changes In Federal Prison Sentences

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue January 31, 2012 8:25 am

Every year, federal judges sentence more than 80,000 criminals. Those punishments are supposed to be fair — and predictable. But seven years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court threw a wrench into the system by ruling that the guidelines that judges use to figure out a prison sentence are only suggestions.

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Law
4:00 am
Sat January 21, 2012

Privacy Lawyers Process Megaupload Copyright Case

The Justice Department's massive copyright case against the file-sharing website Megaupload.com had the Internet world hopping this week. But it also got lawyers talking, about the scope of a criminal investigation that spanned eight countries and the hard-nosed tactics that the government deployed.

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The Two-Way
2:04 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Court-Martial Recommended For Bradley Manning In WikiLeaks Case

Army Pvt. Bradley Manning last month.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 2:28 pm

An investigating officer has recommended that Army private Bradley Manning face court-martial on multiple criminal charges related to the downloading of nearly 1 million war logs and secret diplomatic cables. Manning is accused of taking the files and them passing them on to WikiLeaks.

If he does face a court martial and is convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

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The Two-Way
11:00 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Justice Dept. Legal Counsel Says Obama Had Recess Authority

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 11:01 am

President Obama acted within his legal authority to appoint Richard Cordray to lead the National Consumer Protection Bureau last week, during a period when the Senate was conducting "pro forma" holiday sessions, according to a memo released this morning by a key unit of the Justice Department.

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The Two-Way
4:45 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Justice Department's No. 3 Stepping Down

Outgoing Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 4:53 pm

Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli will leave the third highest-ranking post at the Justice Department in March after nearly three years managing a bustling portfolio that has run the gamut from mortgage abuses and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to stamping out domestic violence in Indian country.

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Politics
4:00 am
Sat January 7, 2012

Debate Over Appointees Hinges On One Word: Recess

President Obama took a controversial step this week in making appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and National Labor Relations Board during what the White House considered a congressional recess, bypassing any objections from lawmakers.

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National Security
7:00 am
Sat December 17, 2011

Soldier's Hearing Weighs Harm From Wikileaks

Military prosecutors say Army Pvt. Bradley Manning downloaded troves of secret documents from a computer station in Baghdad and passed them to Wikileaks. If investigators recommend that Manning face court martial, it could land him in prison for the rest of his life. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

National Security
11:01 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Bradley Manning To Appear In Court In Leaks Case

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 2:23 pm

Supporters say Army Pfc. Bradley Manning doesn't belong in a courtroom at all. They think he's a whistle-blower — and a hero.

Eighteen months after his arrest on suspicion of leaking national secrets, Manning will finally make his first appearance in court Friday at Fort Meade, Md., just north of Washington, D.C.

When he worked in Iraq, Manning allegedly downloaded thousands of war logs and diplomatic cables and shared them with the website WikiLeaks. He faces 22 criminal charges that could keep him behind bars for life.

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Law
2:15 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Immigration Detainees Seek Prison-Rape Protection

Human rights advocates are calling on the Obama administration to do more to protect people in immigration detention centers from sexual assault. A new federal rule that will take effect next year covers inmates in jails and prisons, but some Homeland Security officials want an exemption for facilities that house illegal immigrants.

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U.S.
1:42 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Fast And Furious Questions For U.S. Attorney General

Attorney General Eric Holder testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. He faces tough questions about the Justice Department's "Fast and Furious" gun-control program.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 9:08 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder got a bruising reception from the Republican-dominated House Judiciary Committee that put the Justice Department on the defensive.

Holder answered questions about the botched gun trafficking operation known as "Fast and Furious" in which federal agents tried to build cases against drug cartels. Instead, they lost track of hundreds of weapons that turned up at crime scenes along the Southwest border.

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The Two-Way
1:22 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Senator Calls For Justice's Criminal Division Chief To Step Down

Iowa Republican Charles Grassley took to the Senate floor Wednesday to declare that a senior Justice Department official "needs to go immediately" for allegedly misleading Congress in its 11-month-old investigation of a gun trafficking operation gone bad.

"It's past time for accountability at the senior levels of the Justice Department," Grassley said. "That accountability needs to start with the head of the criminal division, Lanny Breuer."

In a 15-minute speech, Grassley set out two main reasons for demanding Breuer's ouster.

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The Two-Way
5:14 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Justice Withdraws Inaccurate 'Fast And Furious' Letter It Sent To Congress

Under fire for losing track of weapons that turned up at crime scenes along the Southwest border, the Justice Department has taken the extraordinary step of formally withdrawing an inaccurate letter about the episode that it sent to Congress earlier this year.

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National Security
3:00 am
Fri December 2, 2011

Defense Bill Requires Military To Hold Terror Suspects

The Senate has passed a defense policy bill that includes controversial provisions requiring terrorism suspects be held in military rather than civilian custody. President Obama has threatened a veto.

U.S.
11:01 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

States Fail In Fight Against Sex Trafficking

A placard of a child sits on a table during a conference Oct. 31 on human sex trafficking in Atlanta. The Georgia Department of Education estimates that about 5,000 girls in the state are at risk for trafficking each year.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Thu December 1, 2011 4:10 am

Too many states still inadvertently provide safe havens when it comes to sex trafficking — even when children on the streets bear the consequences. That's the conclusion of a new report released Thursday by the advocacy group Shared Hope International.

The study grades each state on whether it has laws to protect children who are pushed into the sex trade — and to punish the adults who seek out those services. Leaders of the group say there's lots of room for improvement. More than half of the states they examined got grades of D or F.

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The Two-Way
12:13 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

Prosecutors Say John Hinckley Is Still A Threat

Originally published on Wed November 30, 2011 12:15 pm

The Justice Department says the man who shot and wounded President Ronald Reagan in 1981 still poses a threat to public safety.

Prosecutors are fighting an effort by John Hinckley to win more freedom from a mental hospital where he's been confined for decades.

During a hearing in Washington, the prosecutors said the government has been watching Hinckley.

Secret Service agents followed Hinckley last summer, when he said he was going to the movies during visits to his mother's home in Williamsburg, Va.

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Law
11:01 pm
Tue November 29, 2011

Hearing May Lead To More Freedom For Hinckley

John Hinckley Jr. is escorted by police in Washington, D.C., on March 30, 1981, following his arrest after shooting and seriously wounding then-President Ronald Reagan.
AFP/Getty Images

More than 30 years ago, on March 30, 1981, John Hinckley shot President Reagan and three other people outside a Washington hotel. A jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity, and authorities sent him to a mental institution.

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Law
4:32 am
Sun November 27, 2011

Beyond Fighting Crime, FBI Reaches Out To Victims

Students sit at the Virginia Tech campus on April 18, 2007, two days after a student killed 32 people and himself. FBI victim specialists span out to help in the wake of crimes like the Virginia Tech massacre.
Mary Altaffer AP

Originally published on Sun November 27, 2011 4:57 pm

When FBI agents arrive at the scene of a shooting or a terrorist attack, there's often someone else standing in the background. It's a representative from the FBI's Office for Victim Assistance, there to help people suffering in the aftermath of a disaster.

The planning for those unfortunate days starts here, in a windowless conference room in the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building, where seven serious-looking people are sitting around a table.

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Law
7:09 pm
Tue November 22, 2011

Government Whistle-Blowers Gain New Advocate

Carolyn Lerner is the new head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.
Peter Krogh Courtesy of U.S. Office of Special Counsel

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is one of those small corners of the government with an important mission: It's supposed to help protect federal whistle-blowers and shield civil service workers from politics.

But during the Bush years, the office was engulfed in scandal. It was raided by FBI agents, and its chief was indicted for obstructing justice.

It's into that unsettled environment that the new leader, Carolyn Lerner, arrived five months ago. And good government groups say she's already taking the office in new directions.

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The Two-Way
11:00 am
Mon November 21, 2011

No Criminal Charges Against Justice Dept. Lawyers Who Prosecuted Stevens

Originally published on Tue November 22, 2011 11:59 am

The Justice Department lawyers who prosecuted Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) will not face criminal contempt charges for failing to share evidence that could have helped his defense team, a federal judge said Monday.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan and the special prosecutor he appointed, Washington lawyer Henry Schuelke, had tough words for the Justice Department, though.

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