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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U.S.
12:01 am
Wed March 14, 2012

As Gangs Move To New York Suburbs, So Does Crime

Law enforcement agents raid a home where the occupants are suspected of selling drugs last month in Middletown, N.Y. For three months, court papers say, authorities tracked them using wiretaps and cameras set up on telephone poles and trees.
Chet Gordon AP

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 11:45 am

Over the past few years, authorities have arrested more than 200 gang members in an unexpected place: the tree-lined suburbs along the Hudson River in New York.

Drug traffickers with ties to the Bloods, the Latin Kings and other gangs have put down roots there. Authorities say they brought shootings and stabbings with them.

Middletown, N.Y., is 90 minutes northwest of the city. On West Main Street, you can find tidy brick buildings from the 1800s, a brew pub, and a restaurant that sells fresh mussels and escargot.

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The Two-Way
4:30 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Congressman Proposes Stiffer Penalties For Those Who Lie To Buy Guns

A Democratic Congressman has introduced legislation that would impose tough new penalties on people who lie when they buy guns.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Ca.) says the bill, the Straw Purchaser Penalty Enhancement Act, would give federal agents new tools to crack down on the flow of weapons across the Southwest border into Mexico.

Nowadays, many episodes where people lie about the true identity of the purchaser of guns, or engage in straw purchases, never get prosecuted at all, Schiff says in an interview with NPR.

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Law
4:54 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

To Solve Hacking Case, Feds Get Hacker Of Their Own

The LulzSec icon on Twitter.
Twitter

Federal prosecutors have charged five men with responsibility for some of the biggest computer hacks in the past few years. The FBI says the hackers penetrated the computer systems of businesses like Fox Broadcasting and Sony Pictures, stole confidential information and splashed it all over the Internet.

But what's most unusual about the case is how investigators cracked it — with the help of an insider who became a secret government informant.

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The Two-Way
12:40 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

FBI Offers $1 Million For Information Leading To Safe Return Of Retired Agent

Robert Levinson in an FBI array.
FBI

The FBI is offering a $1 million reward for information leading directly to the safe return of one of its retired agents.

Robert Levinson disappeared five years ago this week on Kish Island, Iran. He worked at the FBI for 22 years before he retired, taking as a private detective. It was that job that sent him to Iran in March 2007, where he went missing.

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Law
7:34 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Holder Spells Out Why Drones Target U.S. Citizens

Attorney General Eric Holder discusses the controversial U.S. drone program during a speech at Northwestern Law School in Chicago on Monday.
John Gress Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 12:01 am

It's one of the most serious actions the U.S. government could ever take: targeting one of its own citizens with lethal force.

Since last year, U.S. drones have killed three Americans overseas. But Attorney General Eric Holder says the ongoing fight against al-Qaida means those kinds of deadly strikes are now a way of life. And judging from the reaction to his national security speech at Northwestern University Law School on Monday, so is the hot debate over the legality of the U.S. drone program.

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News
3:00 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
6:23 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Judge Who Emailed Racist Obama Joke Calls For Investigation On Himself

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 6:32 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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The Two-Way
4:31 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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The Two-Way
5:01 am
Thu February 2, 2012

Report Blames ATF Agents For Botched Gun-Trafficking Operation

A report by congressional Republicans places new blame for the botched gun-trafficking operation known as Fast and Furious at the feet of federal agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who failed to share information and coordinate with sister law enforcement agencies.

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Law
12:01 am
Tue January 31, 2012

GOP Seeks Big Changes In Federal Prison Sentences

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue January 31, 2012 9:25 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
5:00 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
3:04 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 3:28 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
12:00 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Justice Dept. Legal Counsel Says Obama Had Recess Authority

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 12:01 pm

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
5:45 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 5:53 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
5:00 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
3:00 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
8:00 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
12:01 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Bradley Manning To Appear In Court In Leaks Case

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:23 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
10:32 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Probe Finds Arizona Sheriff Violated Civil Rights

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
3:15 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.
2:42 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 10:08 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
2:22 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
6:14 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
4:00 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.
12:01 am
Thu December 1, 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 5:10 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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