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
2:18 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

By Putting Interrogations On Tape, FBI Opens Window Into Questioning

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 4:35 pm

Transcript

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia already record questioning of people in police custody. But federal law enforcement had long refused to take that step until this month. Mark Giuliano is the deputy director of the FBI - the highest ranking agent in the bureau.

MARK GIULIANO: So it used to be that we actually had to get permission to record. And now we're at the point where we actually have to get authority not to record.

JOHNSON: The world has changed, and Giuliano says the FBI is starting to change along with it.

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Law
2:19 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Unanimous Vote Could Mean Reduced Penalties For 46,000 Defendants

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 5:54 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now to a major decision that could bring big changes to as many as 46,000 prison inmates. Those are people convicted of drug crimes, and today, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted unanimously to reduce prison sentences for drug defendants who are already behind bars. This would start next year. NPR justice correspondent, Carrie Johnson, has our story.

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Law
2:19 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

With A Rules Change For A Lever, Senate Ends Judge's 17-Year Wait

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 11:00 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A Missouri lawyer won Senate confirmation today as a federal judge. That came 17 years after he was first nominated to the bench by President Bill Clinton. Ronnie White's nomination in the 1990s triggered a fight between civil rights groups and some police groups. But as NPR's Carrie Johnson reports, a change in Senate rules helped him advance this time.

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Law
2:02 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Justice Dept. Declines To Step Into Dispute Between CIA And Senators

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 5:04 pm

The Justice Department has declined to bring criminal charges against anyone at the CIA or the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a dispute over access to sensitive materials on enhanced interrogations. The power struggle relates to a long-running Senate probe over the mistreatment of detainees after Sept. 11.

The Two-Way
1:24 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

No Criminal Charges In Senate-CIA Spat, Justice Department Says

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein alleged in March that the CIA violated federal law by searching computers used by her staff. On Thursday, the Justice Department declined to bring criminal charges against anyone at the CIA or the Senate panel.
Jim Lo Scalzo EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 1:32 pm

The Justice Department has declined to bring criminal charges against anyone at the CIA or the Senate Intelligence Committee in a dispute over access to documents about the enhanced interrogation program the U.S. deployed against detainees after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Prosecutors notified the Senate panel Thursday of their decision, a muted end to a power struggle that had undermined relations between the intelligence community and its chief overseers on Capitol Hill.

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News
2:13 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

In Oslo, Attorney General Warns Syria May Be A Cradle Of Terrorism

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 4:13 pm

In a speech in Oslo, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urged European partners to do more to find and disrupt plans of would-be terrorists who head to Syria — and, once trained, might return to the West.

The Two-Way
1:01 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Case Against Benghazi Suspect Is Complex, Justice Department Says

Ahmed Abu Khattala, an alleged leader of the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
AP

The Justice Department says its case against a man accused in the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, is unusually complex and involves "novel questions of fact and law."

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National Security
2:06 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Benghazi Suspect Spends A Day In Court

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 5:20 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Well, now the latest on the Benghazi case - the man accused in the attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Libya, which killed four Americans, appeared in federal court. At the end of a brief hearing, a judge ordered Ahmed Abu Khattala to remain in federal custody. And prosecutors outlined some new details about the violent events that night in September 2012, and of Khattala's alleged role in them. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson was in the courtroom and she's here with us now to talk about the case. Hi.

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Law
2:17 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Supreme Court Deals A Blow To Unions, But It's Not Quite Mortal

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 5:01 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Around the Nation
2:59 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Small But Steady Downward Trend In U.S. Executions

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 11:32 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Here's a little-noticed fact about the death penalty. We've heard a big debate about how to execute people - lethal injection, electric chair, firing squad. That debate obscures a little-noticed fact - the number of people executed by any method is way down in the United States in recent years. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson has been covering this story. She's in our studios. Hi, Carrie.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: How far down?

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The Two-Way
10:03 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Report Questions U.S. Policy On Overseas Drone Strikes

An unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, in 2010. A new report questions the U.S. policy of using armed drones abroad to carry out attacks on suspected terrorists.
Kirsty Wigglesworth AP

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 1:18 am

U.S. strategy that relies on armed drones to kill terrorism suspects overseas "rests on questionable assumptions and risks increasing instability and escalating costs," according to a year-long study by a group of prominent military, intelligence and foreign policy experts.

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Politics
3:42 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Murdered Voting Advocate's Brother Wants Protections Back

David Goodman and Stosh Cotler of Bend the Arc at the U.S. Capitol.
Carrie Johnson NPR

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 4:51 pm

One year ago, the Supreme Court threw out a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The law gave the federal government a kind of veto power over voting arrangements in states with a history of discrimination. Now, without those protections, civil rights activists say many states are moving polling places and enacting laws that disproportionately hurt minorities.

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Law
2:07 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

In 'Drone Memo,' A Step Toward Transparency On Targeting Americans

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 6:07 pm

On Monday, a federal court made public a long-secret memo that lays out the Obama administration's legal justification for killing an American citizen in a drone strike. The memo, which concerns the 2011 killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki, says that the man presented an imminent threat to the United States.

National Security
3:09 am
Mon June 9, 2014

FBI Director Comey Looks Ahead To His Next Nine Years

FBI director James Comey wants the agency to get better at preventing crimes and improve diversity. He has another nine years and three months to do that.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 7:33 am

FBI Director Jim Comey brushed back a dark curtain last Thursday morning and emerged to greet his audience, Tonight Show style.

"I feel like a talk show host," Comey told a group of new recruits, the first hired on his watch since he joined the FBI nine months ago.

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Law
3:11 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Prison Rape Law A Decade Old, But Most States Not In Compliance

Texas Gov. Rick Perry says following federal standards for the Prison Rape Elimination Act is too burdensome for states.
Tom Pennington MCT/Landov

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 5:29 pm

The clock is ticking on a decade-long effort to prevent sexual violence inside American prisons. In a recent survey, the vast majority of states said they will try to comply with federal rules. But several others, led by Texas, have protested to the Justice Department.

Jan Lastocy served 15 months in a Michigan prison for attempted embezzlement — her first brush with the law. The assaults began when a new corrections officer showed up at the warehouse where she had been assigned to work as a secretary.

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News
2:16 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

One Year Later, Snowden Still Evades U.S. Charges

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 5:58 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Law
3:31 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Justice Department Renews Focus On Homegrown Terrorists

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 7:42 am

The U.S. has devoted billions of dollars to fighting terrorism overseas in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Justice Department is increasingly warning about the danger posed by radicals on American soil, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wants prosecutors and FBI agents to devote more attention to the threat.

Nearly two decades ago, after the Oklahoma City bombing killed 168 people, the Justice Department launched a group to fight domestic terrorism.

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The Two-Way
2:47 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

House Vote Aims To Derail DOJ Processing Of Clemency Petitions

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 4:41 pm

The House of Representatives has voted to prohibit the Justice Department from hiring more attorneys to deal with thousands of backlogged clemency petitions in a bid to block one of the Obama administration's top criminal justice priorities.

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Law
2:27 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Criminal Records Keep Creating Obstacles Long After Incarceration

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 9:55 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa block. More than 65 million Americans have some kind of rap sheet. That's more than one in four adults. Criminal records follow people for the rest of their lives, and those black marks can hurt chances for housing and employment. Well today a new report says it's time to start thinking about forgiveness. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson has the story.

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The Two-Way
6:43 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Holder Urges Prosecutors To Back Criminal Justice Changes

Attorney General Eric Holder took his case for overhauling the criminal justice system to an unlikely location on Wednesday — a closed-door conference of prosecutors, who were meeting at their national training center in Columbia, South Carolina.

According to a person familiar with Holder's unpublicized remarks, Holder urged an audience of criminal division chiefs from U.S. Attorney's offices to support Smart on Crime initiatives that would reduce some drug sentences and to open up the clemency process to hundreds of inmates with clean records in prison.

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Politics
4:04 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

A Year On, What's Changed (And What Hasn't) On Drone Oversight

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The ability to monitor remotely is one hallmark of the post 9/11 world. Another is the ability to kill remotely. It's what the drone has made possible. But now the practice known as targeted killing may become harder to veil in secrecy. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: One year ago in that speech at the National Defense University, President Obama defended his use of drones as legal and effective. But he also acknowledged the practice raises moral questions.

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The Two-Way
3:17 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

New DOJ Policy Urges Agents To Videotape Interrogations

Department of Justice

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 4:49 pm

Senior Justice Department officials have quietly notified U.S. attorneys and federal agents that they're establishing "a presumption" that agents will electronically record statements made by individuals in their custody.

In a memo obtained by NPR, Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole strongly encourages agents to videotape suspects in custody before they appear in front of a judge or magistrate on federal charges. The memo says FBI special agents in charge of field offices or U.S. attorneys can override the policy if they have good cause to set it aside.

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National Security
2:10 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Senate Advances Judicial Nominee Who Wrote Drone Strike Policy

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 7:21 pm

The Senate will consider a judicial nominee who wrote legal advice approving drone strikes against Americans overseas. Critics question executive branch authority to execute citizens without trial.

Law
2:00 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Slow Rape Kit Results Leave Victims Few Effective Places To Turn

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 5:59 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Sexual assaults are now reported more often, but the Department of Justice says non-reporting still remains the rule. In fact, the DOJ says, only one in three victims reports the crime to police. Even fewer receive any social services. A new study finds that a lack of money and training often complicates the problem. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson has more.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: After Emma Wagner was assaulted by a stranger last year, her first reaction was to hunker down, afraid of what would happen next.

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Law
3:10 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Judicial Nominee On Hold Over Drone Strike Justification

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 5:27 am

Harvard law professor David Barron is under fire for signing memos that allowed the U.S. to kill a U.S. citizen overseas in a drone strike. Those blocking his nomination want the documents released.

Law
2:02 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

A Narrow High Court Win For Prayer Before Government Meetings

Originally published on Mon May 5, 2014 9:52 pm

The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the government can use Christian prayers to start town meetings, so long as legislators don't discriminate against non-Christians. It's a new chapter in the long-running fight over prayer in public places and on public occasions. NPR's Carrie Johnson explains what happened in the town of Greece, New York.

The Two-Way
2:56 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

FBI Director: Radicalization Of Westerners In Syria Is Of Great Concern

"There's going to be a diaspora out of Syria at some point, and we are determined not to let lines be drawn from Syria today to a future 9/11," FBI Director James Comey told reporters Friday.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 2, 2014 4:25 pm

FBI Director James Comey says the flow of Western fighters into Syria — and the prospect they'll return home radicalized — represents one of his biggest day-to-day concerns.

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The Two-Way
9:07 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Lawyers Use High Court Petition To Highlight Prosecutorial Misconduct

Lawyers for a computer support technician convicted of possessing ricin to use as a weapon are asking the Supreme Court on Thursday to hear his appeal, as a way to send a message about widespread prosecutorial misconduct.

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Law
2:21 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Justice Dept. Opens Door To Freedom For Some Nonviolent Offenders

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 9:06 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The Justice Department wants to grant an early release to thousands of nonviolent drug offenders in crowded federal prisons and they've unveiled a plan to do it. Inmates will receive notice starting next week that they may be eligible to apply. That has government lawyers gearing up for a huge amount of work. Here's NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole says there's no time to waste.

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News
2:16 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Longtime D.C. Lawyer Is White House's Next Top Counsel

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 4:38 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

President Obama is getting a new lawyer. Longtime Washington attorney Neil Eggleston will be the next White House counsel. The news comes just in time for midterm elections that could deliver the Senate to Republicans, and launch a new wave of oversight investigations.

NPR's Carrie Johnson reports Eggleston will have to muster all of his legal and political skills.

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