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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2:11am

Wed October 16, 2013
National Security

Has Elite Interrogation Group Lived Up To Expectations?

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 3:58 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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4:14pm

Wed October 2, 2013
The Two-Way

Legal Advocates Want Overhaul Of Public Defender System

Originally published on Thu October 3, 2013 7:55 am

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

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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10:03pm

Sun September 29, 2013
The Two-Way

Justice Department Sues North Carolina Over Voter ID Law

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 3:16 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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10:01pm

Wed September 25, 2013
The Two-Way

Justice Department Pushes New Thinking On Kids And Crime

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 8:45 am

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

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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12:52pm

Thu September 19, 2013
The Two-Way

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

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 6:11 am

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

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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9:51am

Thu September 12, 2013
The Two-Way

New FBI Chief Says Budget Cuts Threaten Agency's Mission

Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 11:10 am

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

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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1:02am

Tue September 3, 2013
Law

Justice Department Tackles Quality Of Defense For The Poor

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 9:37 am

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

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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1:20pm

Tue August 27, 2013
The Two-Way

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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5:24pm

Mon August 26, 2013
The Two-Way

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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6:12pm

Thu August 22, 2013
National Security

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

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 5:25 am

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

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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9:06am

Wed August 21, 2013
NPR Story

Bradley Manning Sentenced To 35 Years For Leaks

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 10:03 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Army Private Bradley Manning was sentenced this morning to 35 years in a military prison. The intelligence analyst shared hundreds of thousands of documents with the website WikiLeaks in what prosecutors call the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history. The 25-year-old Manning stood at attention as his sentence was handed down in a courtroom in Fort Meade, Maryland.

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2:22am

Wed August 7, 2013
Law

With Holder In The Lead, Sentencing Reform Gains Momentum

Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 9:21 am

Attorney General Eric Holder is calling for significant changes to the way the nation deals with convicted criminals. And he's not alone.
Evan Vucci AP

Sit down with the attorney general to ask him about his priorities, as NPR did earlier this year, and he'll talk about voting rights and national security. But if you listen a bit longer, Eric Holder gets to this: "I think there are too many people in jail for too long, and for not necessarily good reasons."

This is the nation's top law enforcement officer calling for a sea change in the criminal justice system. And he's not alone.

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5:45pm

Thu July 25, 2013
It's All Politics

For Holder, An Intersection Of The Personal And Political

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks Thursday at the National Urban League annual conference in Philadelphia.
Matt Rourke AP

Hours before Attorney General Eric Holder announced he would seek new federal powers to protect minority voters in the state of Texas, the country's top law enforcement officer mingled at a Washington event about a topic that hit close to home.

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12:21pm

Fri July 19, 2013
The Two-Way

U.S. Judge 'Troubled' By Government Drone-Strike Policy

A federal judge considering a constitutional challenge to drone strikes that killed three U.S. citizens in Yemen says she's "troubled" by the idea that the courts have no role to play in what's essentially a political dispute.

Over nearly two hours of arguments in her standing-room-only Washington, D.C. courtroom, Judge Rosemary Collyer repeatedly pressed the Obama administration about its claim to a broad right to use lethal force against Americans engaged in conflict overseas, demanding more than once that government lawyers put a "fence" around their position.

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11:56am

Thu July 18, 2013
The Two-Way

Justice's Rules Mean Reporter Need Not Testify, Lawyer Says

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 6:48 pm

The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency. The case that prosecutors want journalist James Risen to testify in involves an alleged leak of information by a former CIA agent.
Greg E. Mathieson Sr. MAI/Landov

A lawyer for New York Times reporter James Risen is citing new Justice Department guidelines about when to subpoena journalists to support his argument that Risen is covered by a common-law reporter's privilege and need not testify about a former CIA agent who allegedly served as his source.

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2:31am

Wed July 17, 2013
Law

Holder: It's Time To Examine 'Stand Your Ground' Laws

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 3:08 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Attorney General Eric Holder says it is time to take a hard look at so-called Stand Your Ground laws. These are laws that allow people to use deadly force to defend themselves, if they believe they're under attack. Holder delivered that call to action yesterday in a speech to the NAACP in Orlando, Fla., a short distance away from where unarmed, black teen Trayvon Martin was shot and killed last year. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

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5:53pm

Tue July 9, 2013
The Two-Way

FBI Nominee Agrees: Waterboarding Is 'Torture' And 'Illegal'

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 6:44 pm

FBI Director nominee James Comey prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination. Comey spent 15 years as a federal prosecutor before serving in the George W. Bush administration, where he is best-known for facing down the White House over a warrantless surveillance program.
Evan Vucci AP

In a confirmation hearing Tuesday for James Comey to lead the FBI, the most memorable exchange FBI lasted just six seconds.

"Do you agree that waterboarding is torture and is illegal?" asked Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

"Yes," Comey replied.

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8:53am

Wed July 3, 2013
Law

Ex-FISA Court Judge Reflects: After 9/11, 'Bloodcurdling' Briefings

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 2:52 pm

Over 25 years as a federal judge, Royce Lamberth has touched some of the biggest and most contentious issues in the country. He led the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court after the Sept. 11 attacks, reviewed petitions from detainees at the Guantanamo prison, and gave a boost to Native Americans suing the federal government.

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2:29am

Fri June 21, 2013
National Security

Obama's Pick To Lead FBI Adds New Layer To Privacy Debate

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 2:34 am

Jim Comey, then deputy attorney general, testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in 2005.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

President Obama will formally nominate Jim Comey to be the country's next FBI director on Friday.

Comey, a registered Republican and longtime federal prosecutor, is best-known for raising alarms inside the Bush White House about a secret electronic surveillance program. That issue has taken on new resonance after disclosures about the Obama administration's dragnet collection of American phone records.

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2:58am

Thu June 20, 2013
National Security

Director Mueller Told Senate Panel FBI Uses Drones

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 5:07 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a Thursday, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. Good Morning.

In one of his final appearances on Capitol Hill, normally media-shy FBI Director Robert Mueller made some news. Mueller, who's retiring in September, acknowledged that the FBI has started to deploy unarmed drones in the U.S. Still, he played down how often agents use those drones.

NPR's Carrie Johnson has more.

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