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
2:45 am
Tue December 18, 2012

'Black America's Law Firm' Looks To Big Cases With New Leadership

Sherrilyn Ifill will become the new president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in January.
Courtesy of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 1:47 pm

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund has been called the law firm for black America. Once run by Thurgood Marshall, the group played a major role in desegregating public schools and fighting restrictions at the ballot box.

Now, the Legal Defense Fund is preparing for a new leader — just as the Supreme Court considers cases that could pare back on those gains.

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Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
6:38 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

Authorities Release Name Of Newtown, Conn. Shooter

Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 9:27 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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It's All Politics
2:26 am
Thu December 13, 2012

Report On CIA Interrogation Tactics Revives Torture Debate

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., have opposing views about a report detailing CIA detention and interrogation practices.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 8:03 am

In a closed-door meeting Thursday, lawmakers will consider whether to approve a secret report that chronicles CIA detention and interrogation practices — including methods that critics have compared to torture.

That report — along with the release of a new movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden — is rekindling an old debate about whether those methods worked.

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It's All Politics
2:55 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

White House Dismisses Constitutional Challenge In Debt Ceiling Saga

White House spokesman Jay Carney briefs reporters Thursday at the White House. "This administration does not believe the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling — period," he said.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 2:59 pm

White House spokesman Jay Carney put an end to intense speculation Thursday about whether President Obama would do an end run around Congress with one simple line: "This administration does not believe the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling — period."

Some Democrats had been urging Obama to unilaterally raise the debt limit — a bold move that would take away Republican leverage in the ongoing negotiations over taxes and spending.

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It's All Politics
1:35 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Is A Recess Appointment Valid If The Senate Says It's Not Really Gone?

The Senate side of the U.S. Capitol.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 8:09 am

In a tug of war between President Obama and Congress, a federal appeals court panel in Washington, D.C., will hear arguments Wednesday on the legality of Obama's controversial recess appointments.

The White House says it was forced to install three new members of the National Labor Relations Board in January because of inaction by Senate Republicans. But those lawmakers argue the Senate wasn't really in a recess at the time.

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Law
4:04 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Federal 'Compassionate' Prison Release Rarely Given

A new report says federal prison officials rarely grant "compassionate release," even for the most gravely ill inmates.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 6:05 am

Back in 1984, Congress gave authorities the power to let people out of federal prison early, in extraordinary circumstances, like if inmates were gravely ill or dying. But a new report says the Federal Bureau of Prisons blocks all but a few inmates from taking advantage of "compassionate release."

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Law
4:04 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

Manning Plea Offer Another Odd Piece Of An Odd Case

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., after a pretrial hearing in June. Manning is charged with aiding the enemy by giving hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables and war logs to the secret-sharing website WikiLeaks.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 5:18 pm

The young Army private accused of passing diplomatic cables and war reports to the website WikiLeaks has made an unusual offer: Bradley Manning says he'll plead guilty to minor charges in the case. But he rejects the idea that he ever acted as a spy or helped America's enemies.

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Law
2:25 am
Tue November 20, 2012

Will U.S. Try To Snuff Out State Marijuana Laws?

A worker inspects a marijuana plant at a grow house in Denver on Nov. 8.
Ed Andrieski AP

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 3:54 pm

The Justice Department has a big decision to make.

Parts of new laws in Colorado and Washington that legalize small amounts of recreational marijuana will take effect early next month. The Obama administration needs to choose whether it will sue to stop the legislation or let those states go their own way — even though the drug remains illegal under federal law.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, says the message he got from voters is unambiguous.

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Law
4:55 am
Mon November 19, 2012

BP Legal Troubles Persist Over Gulf Spill

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 9:38 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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The Two-Way
12:42 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Four More BP Employees Will Be Charged In Oil Spill

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 4:12 pm

Two sources tell NPR that four more BP employees will be charged in relation to the BP oil spill, which dumped more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

The individuals facing manslaughter charges are former BP well managers Donald Vidrine and Robert Kaluza. Another high ranking official, David Rainey, the former head of Gulf of Mexico exploration, will be charged with downplaying the spill to lawmakers. One more lower ranking BP employee will face insider trading charges.

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The Two-Way
6:49 am
Thu November 15, 2012

BP Pleads Guilty, Will Pay $4 Billion In Criminal Penalties For Gulf Oil Spill

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig burned on April 21, 2010.
U.S. Coast Guard Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 5:32 pm

Update at 11:30 a.m. ET: Oil giant BP has agreed to plead guilty to criminal misconduct related to the 2010 Gulf Oil spill and will pay a record $4 billion in criminal penalties, the company just confirmed. And it will pay $525 million in civil penalties in a resolution with the Securities and Exchanges Commission. BP will make the payments over six years.

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It's All Politics
4:20 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Petraeus Scandal Raises Concerns About Email Privacy

David Petraeus, then-CIA director, testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee in January. Petraeus resigned Friday after acknowledging an extramarital affair.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 9:44 am

The FBI review of sensitive email messages between former CIA Director David Petraeus and his biographer-mistress Paula Broadwell has been raising big questions about Big Brother.

One of them: When can federal law enforcement review a person's private communications?

To Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institute, the real scandal over the Petraeus affair is not the extramarital sex, but the invasion of privacy.

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National Security
2:14 am
Tue November 13, 2012

The FBI's Role In The Petraeus Investigation

Members of Congress want to know why they didn't know more about the investigation involving former CIA Director David Petraeus, seen here testifying on Capitol Hill on Feb. 2.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 11:40 am

In Washington scandals, the question is usually what the White House knew.

But in the case of former CIA Director David Petraeus, lawmakers are asking why President Obama did not know about a federal investigation that had found evidence Petraeus was having an affair.

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It's All Politics
4:54 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

Republicans Keep The House; Democrats To Retain Senate

Democrat Elizabeth Warren takes the stage after defeating incumbent GOP Sen. Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race on Tuesday.
Michael Dwyer AP

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 5:45 am

Republicans have easily maintained their hold on the House, while missteps from Tea Party favorites helped Democrats retain a majority in the Senate.

That means the two chambers of Congress remain deeply divided, with prospects for agreement on such big-ticket items as deficits, tax rates and climate change unclear.

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Election 2012
6:01 am
Tue November 6, 2012

The Battle For Congress: Senate And House Races To Watch

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., shakes hands with Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren at their Oct. 1 debate in Lowell, Mass. The race is one of a handful of contests that could determine party control of the Senate.
Charles Krupa AP

Originally published on Tue November 6, 2012 6:02 pm

For Republicans itching to regain control of the Senate, Tuesday's election presents a rare opportunity. Only 10 GOP incumbents are on the ballot, compared with nearly two dozen Democrats and independents who caucus with them.

That means the magic number for Republicans is low. They need only a net gain of three or four seats to take over the Senate — and, assuming they keep the U.S. House of Representatives, consolidate their influence on Capitol Hill. Democrats need to pick up 25 seats to seize the House, a goal that political analysts consider all but out of reach.

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Around the Nation
4:03 am
Wed October 24, 2012

Tough Times For Girls In Juvenile Justice System

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 6:30 am

The number of boys locked up for crimes has dropped over the past decade, but the number of young women detained in jails and residential centers has moved in the other direction.

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Law
4:32 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Former CIA Agent Pleads Guilty To Leaking Info

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 3:18 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

A big development today in the Justice Department's crackdown on national security leaks. A former CIA agent pleaded guilty to revealing the name of a covert operative to a reporter. John Kiriakou agreed to spend two and a half years in prison.

NPR's Carrie Johnson was in the courtroom in Virginia for the plea hearing and joins us now to talk about the case. Welcome, Carrie.

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The Two-Way
5:01 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

Lawmakers Demand Update On 'Fast And Furious' Personnel

Two Republican lawmakers investigating the botched gun trafficking operation known as Fast and Furious say they aren't finished yet.

In a letter obtained by NPR, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., are demanding an update on personnel actions taken by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives after a lengthy investigation by Congress and the Justice Department inspector general.

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The Two-Way
4:39 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

UPDATE: Former CIA Officer Pleads Guilty In Leak Case

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou (right), accompanied by his attorney, John Hundley, leaving federal court in Alexandria, Va., last January.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 11:11 am

Update at 11:35 a.m. ET, Oct. 23:

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou, as expected, pleaded guilty this morning to revealing an undercover operative's identity.

According to The Associated Press:

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Law
3:24 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

What Happens After Jurors Get It Wrong?

Juror Anita Woodruff is haunted by her decision to help convict Santae Tribble of murder.
Carrie Johnson NPR

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 7:16 pm

About 300 people have been wrongfully convicted and exonerated in the U.S. thanks to DNA evidence. But overlooked in those stories are the accounts of jurors who unwittingly played a role in the injustice.

One of those stories is playing out in Washington, D.C., where two jurors who helped convict a teenager of murder in 1981 are now persuaded that they were wrong. They're dealing with their sense of responsibility by leading the fight to declare him legally innocent.

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U.S.
1:51 am
Fri October 19, 2012

With A Phone Call, Truckers Can Fight Sex Trafficking

Errol Giwa, en route to Washington, D.C., fuels up and wipes down his windshield at the truck stop in Jessup, Md. He says in his 34 years as a truck driver, he has heard of many instances of human trafficking at truck stops but hasn't seen it with his own eyes. "If you are looking for that sort of thing, it's not hard to find on the road," Giwa says.
Brakkton Booker NPR

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 12:03 pm

Eight years ago, a truck driver parked at a travel center near Detroit made a phone call that changed a life.

"I pulled into a truck stop about midnight," Willis Wolfswinkel remembered. "Getting my log book done. Had two girls knock on my door. And I waved them on 'cause I knew what they were looking for."

Something about those girls bothered Wolfswinkel. They looked young, so he called 911.

When the girls went inside another truck in the same lot, he called again. Wolfswinkel kept watching as the police arrived.

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The Two-Way
11:56 am
Wed October 10, 2012

Report: Solitary Confinement For Minors Could Have Lasting Consequences

A new report warns thousands of young people held in solitary confinement each year inside adult jails and prisons could suffer lasting consequences including hallucinations and mental illness.

The study by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch reached out to 125 juveniles in 19 states. Many of them reported being isolated for weeks at a time, in small cells with little natural light, no access to education, and minimal opportunities to exercise.

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All Tech Considered
3:21 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

National Security Experts Go Rogue For 'Drone Smackdown'

Alice Beauheim, her father and Bill Love fly their homemade machines at the Drone Smackdown in Manassas, Va., on Sunday. Objections by the Federal Aviation Administration forced organizers to hold the tongue-in-cheek contest outside of Washington, D.C.
John Procter

Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 6:39 pm

It started as trash talk between two contributors to a national security blog. They decided to host a drone smackdown to see if one guy's machine could take down another.

Unarmed drones, of course. The kind you can put together with a toy-store model and $200 in modifications. But the game turned out to have some serious undertones.

First, a word about the location. For a moment last week, the whole drone smackdown was up in the air.

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The Two-Way
5:17 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Plans For John Hinckley's Transfer Have Been Put On Hold

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 6:34 pm

Plans that would allow John Hinckley to leave a mental institution and go live with his mother are on hold. His doctors say the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan is well enough to deserve more freedom.

But a key part of the treatment plan is now up in the air.

Therapists in Virginia, near the home of John Hinckley's elderly mother, say they want to withdraw from a plan to treat him several days a week.

Hinckley's longtime defense lawyers say they want to quit too, because they're not getting paid any more.

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Law
2:04 am
Wed September 19, 2012

ACLU Pushes For Answers On Drone Strikes

A U.S. Predator drone flies through the night sky over Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan. Drone strikes ordered by the Obama administration have killed more than a dozen al-Qaida leaders around the world.
Kirsty Wigglesworth AP

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 7:28 am

Drone strikes ordered by the Obama administration have killed more than a dozen al-Qaida leaders around the world, in places ranging from Afghanistan to Somalia. In speeches and public appearances, U.S. officials say those attacks are legal and essential to protect the nation's security.

But when civil liberties groups asked for more information about targeted killing, the CIA told them it's a secret.

On Thursday, they'll square off in front of a federal appeals court in Washington.

Pushing For Records

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The Two-Way
2:51 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

Justice Department Closes Investigation Into Deaths Of Two Detainees

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 7:19 pm

The Justice Department has closed an investigation into the deaths of two detainees in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan without bringing any criminal charges.

Attorney General Eric Holder said prosecutors had declined to proceed "because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt."

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Law
5:23 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

Judge Halts Ohio Law That Could Discount Votes

A judge has given Ohio unions a preliminary injunction stopping a new state law that could endanger provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct, even if the cause is poll worker error.

Law
3:01 am
Mon August 27, 2012

John Walker Lindh Sues For Prison Prayer Group

John Walker Lindh was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 after fighting with the Taliban.
File Photo AP

Originally published on Mon August 27, 2012 12:34 pm

John Walker Lindh was a middle-class kid in Northern California who converted to Islam and went to travel the world. U.S. authorities eventually captured him in Afghanistan after Sept. 11, when he was allegedly fighting alongside the Taliban.

His story was the focus of a Law and Order episode, and a song called "John Walker's Blues" by Steve Earle.

For the past five years, Lindh has been living in a secret prison facility in Indiana with convicted terrorists, neo-Nazis and other inmates who get special monitoring.

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Law
1:47 am
Fri August 17, 2012

When The Lawyer Becomes The Object Of Prosecution

U.S. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer says Charles Daum, a longtime lawyer, betrayed his profession.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 10:06 am

For more than 30 years, Charles Daum made a living by defending people accused of run-of-the-mill crimes. Then he met a charismatic Washington, D.C.-area man charged with distributing cocaine.

What happened next is a plot worthy of a television crime drama.

The accused drug dealer, Delante White, turned the tables and helped convict his own defense lawyer of manufacturing evidence and putting on false testimony to help the drug dealer's case.

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U.S.
2:24 am
Fri August 10, 2012

Sikh Shooting Puts Focus On Hate Groups At Home

Rescue workers stand in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City after an explosion on April 19, 1995. The bombing killed 168 people.
David Longstreath AP

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 5:28 am

The slaying of six people at a Sikh temple by a gunman with ties to white supremacists has raised questions about the scope of domestic terrorism — and what law enforcement is doing to stop it.

Federal law enforcement agencies cracked down hard on homegrown extremists after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people, including 19 children at a day care center. Many leaders went to prison, died or went bankrupt.

But in recent years, the spread of the Internet, the worsening economy and changing demographic patterns have been giving new voice to hate groups.

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