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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National Security
4:54 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

NGOs Call U.S. Drone Program Illegal In Damning Reports

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 12:28 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Today, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International released a report documenting the aftermath of drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen. A 68-year-old grandmother killed in a farm field in front of her family. Laborers killed after they had gathered in a tent to get out of the summer sun after a long day's work. The human rights groups are calling for more transparency from the Obama administration about America's drone program. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

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Law
3:15 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Getting Federal Benefits To Gay Couples: It's Complicated

A gay rights activist waves a rainbow flag in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in June, a day before the ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 9:54 am

It has been four months since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. The ruling paved the way for thousands of same-sex married couples to receive federal benefits, and a special group of government lawyers has been working to make that happen.

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The Two-Way
5:51 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

U.S. Will Disclose Use Of Secret Wiretaps To A Defendant

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 7:29 pm

The Justice Department is wrestling with how to disclose to criminal defendants that some evidence against them may have come from a secret electronic surveillance program.

A senior government official told NPR that prosecutors have identified a criminal case in which they will soon tell defense lawyers that they used secret intercepts to help build the prosecution.

The decision to share the fruits of electronic monitoring under section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act has been the source of an internal debate within the department for weeks.

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National Security
4:37 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Has Elite Interrogation Group Lived Up To Expectations?

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 5:58 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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National Security
4:21 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Snowden's Leaks Lead To More Disclosure From Feds

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 11:02 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has been exposing the most profound secrets of America's surveillance system, and the Obama administration's response to that? Declassifying lots of other material. The NSA has been under orders to do that from the White House, yet many lawmakers are demanding even more, which raises the question: when do we know enough? NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

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Law
4:20 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Raids In Somalia, Libya Spur Legal Questions

Originally published on Mon October 7, 2013 6:50 pm

Daring weekend raids by U.S. armed forces to capture suspected terrorists in Somalia and Libya are generating a hearty debate among national security lawyers who are raising questions about what authority U.S. forces have to enter foreign soil and how long the al-Qaida operative who was captured can be held without trial.

The Two-Way
6:14 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Legal Advocates Want Overhaul Of Public Defender System

Former Vice President Walter Mondale speaks at a Georgetown University Law Center discussion last week. He is one of several prominent individuals calling for better legal representation for the poor.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 3, 2013 9:55 am

Prominent members of the legal community are pressuring the Obama administration to do more to ensure that poor criminal defendants have access to a lawyer, a situation that Attorney General Eric Holder has already likened to a national crisis.

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The Two-Way
12:03 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Justice Department Sues North Carolina Over Voter ID Law

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 5:16 pm

(This post was updated at 5 p.m.)

The Justice Department is suing North Carolina over that state's restrictive new voting law. The lawsuit takes aim at provisions that limit early voting periods and require a government photo ID as an illegal form of discrimination against minorities at the ballot box.

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The Two-Way
12:01 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Justice Department Pushes New Thinking On Kids And Crime

The Justice Department, along with the Department of Education, is trying to stop what experts describe as a "school-to-prison pipeline."
J. David Ake AP

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 10:45 am

For a man who spent the bulk of his career as a public defender, Robert Listenbee's new role walking around the halls of the U.S. Justice Department may not be the most comfortable fit.

But Listenbee, who became administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention earlier this year, says his transition has been smooth. And besides, he says, he couldn't resist the "extraordinary opportunity."

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Africa
4:37 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Al-Shabab, Once Thought Weakened, Is Still A Threat

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 8:38 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We're going to hear more now about the group behind the deadly attack on a shopping mall in Kenya this weekend. The militant group al-Shabab emerged as a dangerous terrorist organization seven years ago in Somalia. But it has suffered major setbacks there in the past few years. And now, with a single devastating attack across the border in Nairobi, the group is trying to demonstrate that it's still relevant. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

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The Two-Way
2:52 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

FBI Chief: Gunman Was 'Wandering Around Looking For People To Shoot'

FBI Director James Comey is pictured earlier this month during his swearing-in ceremony at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 8:11 am

New FBI Director Jim Comey said the man who went on a rampage at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday was "wandering around looking for people to shoot" and had no apparent rhyme or reason for killing 12 people.

In his first remarks to reporters since taking office this month, Comey said the gunman, Aaron Alexis, ran out of ammunition for his legally purchased, sawed-off shotgun, exhausting a supply in his cargo pants pocket, and then began using a Beretta wrestled from a guard he had shot.

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Law
5:08 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Push To End Mandatory Minimums Makes Strange Bedfellows

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 8:01 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

On Capitol Hill today, a rare acknowledgement from lawmakers that they are partly to blame for the country's crowded prisons. Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, opened a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this way.

SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY: We must reevaluate how many people we send to prison and for how long.

SIEGEL: Leahy wants to dial back the long prison sentences that Congress approved during the war on drugs and he's got some surprising allies.

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The Two-Way
11:51 am
Thu September 12, 2013

New FBI Chief Says Budget Cuts Threaten Agency's Mission

Newly minted FBI Director James Comey speaks at a swearing-in ceremony last week at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 1:10 pm

In his first full week on the job, new FBI Director Jim Comey is already expressing "intense concern" about budget cuts hitting the bureau as part of sequestration.

Comey used his first visits to FBI field offices in Virginia and New York, where he once served as a federal prosecutor, to sound an alarm about the ability to fulfill the agency's mission in a time of belt tightening.

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National Security
5:08 am
Thu September 5, 2013

What Should Be On New FBI Director's To-Do List?

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 6:58 am

For the first time in years, there's new leadership at the FBI. Attorney General Eric Holder conducted the swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday. While Jim Comey starts his job Thursday, he's been working to get ready for years — preparing for threats ranging from terrorist bombings to cyber attacks.

Law
3:02 am
Tue September 3, 2013

Justice Department Tackles Quality Of Defense For The Poor

People wait in line outside the Supreme Court in February. In a landmark decision half a century ago, the justices guaranteed a lawyer for criminal defendants who are too poor to afford one.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 11:37 am

All over the country, lawyers who defend poor people in criminal cases have been sharing their stories about painful budget cuts. Some federal public defenders have shut their doors to new clients after big layoffs. And in many states, the public defense system has operated in crisis for years.

But an unprecedented recent court filing from the Justice Department has cheered the typically overburdened attorneys who represent the poor and could have dramatic implications for the representation of indigent defendants.

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Law
4:51 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

DOJ Won't Sue To Overturn Recreational Pot Laws

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 6:01 pm

The Department of Justice issued new guidance Thursday on enforcement of marijuana laws. The move comes after two states — Colorado and Washington — legalized marijuana for recreational use. The department said it would not sue to pre-empt those laws as long as the two states follow the new policy, which applies to all 50 states. The government's priorities for prosecutors include keeping drug profits away from gangs and cartels, and keeping marijuana away from children.

The Two-Way
3:20 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

U.S. 'Ought To Respect' State Marijuana Laws, Sen. Leahy Says

Sen. Patrick Leahy is calling on the Justice Department to state its position on marijuana's legal status. Here, a man inspects a shirt depicting the U.S. flag made of marijuana symbols, at a medical marijuana show in Los Angeles earlier this year.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says he's done waiting for answers about how the Justice Department will handle marijuana offenses in states that have legalized small amounts of the drug.

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The Two-Way
7:24 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Justice Backs Less Protective Ruling On Reporter Privilege

In a case closely watched by the intelligence community and the media, the Justice Department urged a federal appeals court on Monday to leave in place a court ruling that gives reporters little protection from testifying against their sources in criminal prosecutions.

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National Security
8:12 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Outgoing FBI Boss On His Legacy And What Kept Him Up At Night

FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill in June.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 7:25 am

For a man at the center of so many critical government actions, with a portfolio that includes preventing terrorist strikes and cyberattacks, FBI Director Robert Mueller has mostly avoided the limelight since he joined the bureau just a week before Sept. 11, 2001.

As his friend and former CIA Director George Tenet says, Mueller represents a different type.

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Law
5:38 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Manning Sentenced To 35 Years In Prison For Leaks

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 6:38 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.

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