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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Law
3:00 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
1:04 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 1:28 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
10:00 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Justice Dept. Legal Counsel Says Obama Had Recess Authority

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 10:01 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
3:45 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 3:53 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
3:00 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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Law
1:00 pm
Fri January 6, 2012

Justice Department Redefines Rape

The Justice Department is redefining the criminal definition of "rape" for the first time since the 1920s. It will now include same-sex assaults and a definition beyond actual intercourse. This will change the way local police departments report crime statistics.

National Security
6:00 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
10:01 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Bradley Manning To Appear In Court In Leaks Case

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 1:23 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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Around the Nation
8:32 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Probe Finds Arizona Sheriff Violated Civil Rights

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Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has forced inmates to wear pink and live in tent cities, gaining him a reputation as America's toughest sheriff.
Joshua Lott Getty Images

Sheriff Joe Arpaio has a national reputation for being tough on crime but now the Arizona law man is in the spotlight for a different reason.

On Thursday, the Department of Justice released the results of a three-year investigation in which authorities conclude that Arpaio and his deputies are the ones who've been breaking law.

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Law
1:15 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.
12:42 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 8:08 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
12:22 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
4:14 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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U.S.
10:01 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 3:10 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
11:13 am
Wed November 30, 2011

Prosecutors Say John Hinckley Is Still A Threat

Originally published on Wed November 30, 2011 11:15 am

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
10:01 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
3:32 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 3:57 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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The Two-Way
10:00 am
Mon November 21, 2011

No Criminal Charges Against Justice Dept. Lawyers Who Prosecuted Stevens

Originally published on Tue November 22, 2011 10:59 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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Politics
10:01 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Gun Violence Survivors Push For Tighter Restrictions

Patricia Maisch, one of the people who helped halt the Tucson shooting that killed six and wounded 13, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, holds up a photograph of victim John Roll, a federal judge, while testifying before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. Maisch testified in support of legislation that would strengthen federal power over the states' handling of background checks.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 16, 2011 6:33 am

Dozens of gun violence survivors and family members of victims traveled to Capitol Hill this week to try to convince lawmakers to pass a bill that would tighten loopholes in the background check system for people who buy firearms.

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National Security
10:01 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

As Iraq Hostilities End, Fate Of Combatant Unclear

U.S. authorities must now decide the fate of Ali Mussa Daqduq — shown here on a poster at a 2007 U.S. military news conference in Baghdad — and other enemy combatants once troops withdraw from Iraq.
Chris Hondros AFP/Getty Images

As the U.S. winds down operations in Iraq, national security officials have a big decision to make: what to do with a senior explosives expert captured by American troops five years ago.

Ali Mussa Daqduq is accused of organizing a kidnapping in Iraq that left five U.S. service members dead. But authorities don't have the power to hold him indefinitely under the congressional authorization approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks because he's tied to Hezbollah, a militant group from Lebanon — not al-Qaida.

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Around the Nation
2:46 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

Gangs Enter New Territory With Sex Trafficking

Weapons and paraphernalia from gangs are displayed during a news conference in 2006. Authorities in Fairfax, Va., have brought five prostitution cases in the past year against gangs. One member of the MS-13 gang was recently sentenced to life in prison for sex trafficking.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

The MS-13 gang got its start among immigrants from El Salvador in the 1980s. Since then, the gang has built operations in 42 states, mostly out West and in the Northeastern United States, where members typically deal in drugs and weapons.

But in Fairfax County, Va., one of the wealthiest places in the country, authorities have brought five cases in the past year that focus on gang members who have pushed women, sometimes very young women, into prostitution.

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The Two-Way
7:36 am
Thu November 10, 2011

Documents Reveal More Potential Evidence-Sharing Failures By Justice Dept.

Justice Department lawyers prosecuting a former CIA agent for leaking classified information allegedly lagged in turning over evidence that would help the intelligence operative with his defense, causing the judge to bar a pair of government witnesses from testifying.

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The Two-Way
4:11 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Former Ariz. U.S. Attorney Admits Leaking 'Fast And Furious' Memo

Originally published on Tue November 8, 2011 6:55 pm

Former Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke came forward Tuesday to take responsibility for his role in leaking a memo used to cast aspersions on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent who had blown the whistle to Congress about a botched gun-trafficking operation.

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National Security
1:00 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

GOP: Holder Hearing Leaves Unanswered Questions

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is sworn in before testifying during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about the controversial "Fast and Furious" gun-trafficking program on Tuesday.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 8, 2011 8:15 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder spent almost three hours on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, getting a grilling from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about a flawed gun-trafficking operation that let hundreds of guns flow across the Southwest border.

But even after the Justice Department oversight hearing, Republican lawmakers say there are lots of questions that remain unanswered.

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