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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3:05pm

Mon December 16, 2013
The Two-Way

Federal Judge Rules NSA Bulk Phone Record Collection Unconstitutional

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 4:31 pm

A federal judge in Washington says the National Security Agency's program for bulk phone record collection violates Americans' reasonable expectation of privacy.

The ruling (pdf), however, has been stayed pending a likely appeal.

Judge Richard Leon says the sweeping NSA collection of U.S. phone metadata constitutes an unreasonable search or seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

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6:57pm

Wed December 11, 2013
The Two-Way

FBI Agents Support Bipartisan Spending Deal

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:04 pm

James Comey in the White House Rose Garden as President Obama nominates him for the top FBI post on June 21.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

FBI agents across the country have been among the most vocal opponents of the spending cuts triggered by sequestration, warning about everything from having to abandon surveillance work to a lack of gas money.

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12:03am

Thu December 5, 2013
The Two-Way

Report: Threat Of Mandatory Minimums Used To Coerce Guilty Pleas

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 9:44 am

In August, Attorney General Eric Holder told federal prosecutors to no longer hit low-level drug offenders with charges that carry mandatory minimum sentences. But it's not yet clear how broadly that directive is being interpreted.
Stephen Lam Reuters /Landov

A new report says the Justice Department regularly coerces defendants in federal drug cases to plead guilty by threatening them with steep prison sentences or stacking charges to increase their time behind bars.

And for the first time, the study by Human Rights Watch finds that defendants who take their fate to a judge or jury face prison sentences on average 11 years longer than those who plead guilty.

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6:00pm

Tue December 3, 2013
Politics

Obama Offers Second Chance For Missouri Court Nominee

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 6:50 pm

Ronnie White, then-chief justice-elect of the Missouri Supreme Court, talks with reporters in June 2003.
Kelley McCall AP

President Obama has made it a priority to choose federal judges who are diverse in terms of race or gender. But for the most part, he's avoided controversy for those lifetime appointments.

That's why the nomination of a Missouri lawyer named Ronnie White has raised the eyebrows of experts who've been around Washington for a while. Old hands remember that White was rejected for a federal judgeship back in 1999 after a party line vote by Senate Republicans.

Now, in what experts say could be an unprecedented step, he's getting another chance.

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5:20pm

Thu November 21, 2013
Politics

ATF Chief Faces Tough Challenge At Troubled Agency

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 6:54 pm

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Director B. Todd Jones speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Aug. 29.
Susan Walsh AP

For the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, nothing seems to come easy.

The agency runs at a fraction of the size of its much larger law enforcement counterparts. Under pressure from gun rights groups, it operated without a Senate-confirmed leader for seven years. And its new leader, B. Todd Jones, only narrowly averted a congressional roadblock to win confirmation this summer after serving more than two years as an interim leader.

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5:50pm

Wed November 20, 2013
The Two-Way

Justice Says FISA Was Used To Help Crack 2010 Oregon Bomb Plot

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 6:10 pm

A 2010 mug shot of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.
AP

The case against a Somali-born U.S. citizen convicted in a foiled bombing plot was built partly on secret information "obtained or derived" from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Justice Department has acknowledged.

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3:06am

Thu November 14, 2013
All Tech Considered

Plastic Guns Made With 3-D Printers Pose New Security Concerns

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 12:30 pm

An all-plastic gun fires a bullet in this screenshot from a video made by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
ATF

5:11am

Wed November 13, 2013
Afghanistan

What Happens To Guantanamo After The War In Afghanistan Ends?

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 7:18 am

U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan are set to end after next year. So if the fighting stops, does the war on terror end? What does the end of the war mean for the detention center in Cuba and on drone strikes in Afghanistan?

3:15am

Tue October 22, 2013
Law

Getting Federal Benefits To Gay Couples: It's Complicated

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

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

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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5:51pm

Thu October 17, 2013
The Two-Way

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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