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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Environment
4:03 am
Mon January 19, 2015

New Justice Department Environment Chief Takes Helm Of Gulf Spill Case

Cruden ranks the Gulf oil spill as one of the most significant environmental disasters of our time. It "deserves ... all of our energy to make sure nothing like this ever happens again," he says.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 7:37 am

John Cruden served with U.S. Special Forces in Vietnam, taking his law school aptitude test in Saigon and eventually becoming a government lawyer.

Earlier this month, he started a new job running the environment and natural resources division at the Justice Department. For Cruden, 68, the new role means coming home to a place where he worked as a career lawyer for about 20 years.

Cruden has been around long enough to have supervised the Exxon Valdeez spill case, a record-setter. That is, until the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

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Governing
5:05 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Tough Attorney General Pick Loretta Lynch Vies For Senate Confirmation

"They expect a certain amount of leniency or mercy from me, because I'm a woman, and if you've ever met my mother you should know that's not even in the cards," Lynch said in 2012. "She's much tougher than I am."
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 9:19 am

President Obama's choice to be the next attorney general grew up in a state where her parents fought for the right to vote.

Loretta Lynch is a North Carolina native who hails from a long line of preachers. Her academic talent propelled her into some of the country's elite institutions.

Now Lynch is trying to win Senate confirmation as the top U.S. law enforcement officer, as the first black woman in line to hold that job.

Lynch was born 55 years ago, in Greensboro, N.C., where sit-ins and protests provided a soundtrack to her youth.

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Law
4:36 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

First Amendment Arguments Overshadow Sterling Espionage Case

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 4:21 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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All Tech Considered
6:03 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Prosecutors Say Tools For Hiding Online Hinder Cybercrime Crackdowns

Using Tor, or The Onion Router, enables users to hide their online activities. Advocates say the network protects the privacy of activists. But prosecutors say it's used extensively by criminals — and is making it harder for law enforcement to do its job.
Daniel Acker Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 1:30 pm

Prosecutors say tools that cloak online identities are complicating their efforts to police all kinds of crime.

Take the case of a former head of cybersecurity for the Department of Health and Human Services, Timothy DeFoggi. Prosecutors say they found graphic images of children on a laptop computer in his home.

DeFoggi once led cybersecurity efforts for HHS, but in this case, the Justice Department says, he used his expertise to hide from the law, along with other users of child porn sites, on a network called Tor.

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The Two-Way
1:03 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Deputy Attorney General Reflects On Controversies, Successes

Deputy Attorney General James Cole
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 6:23 pm

It has been called one of the hardest jobs in the U.S. government.

The deputy attorney general is second in command at the Justice Department, responsible for sensitive prosecutions and monitoring threats from al-Qaida and the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

James Cole, who has had the job for four years — longer than anyone since the 1950s — is leaving soon. He sat down this week to reflect on his tenure.

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Law
4:39 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Judge Regrets Harsh Human Toll Of Mandatory Minimum Sentences

The shocking death of basketball player Len Bias from a cocaine overdose in 1986 led Congress to pass tough mandatory sentences for drug crimes.
AP

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 3:08 pm

It seems long ago now, but in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, murders and robberies exploded as cocaine and other illegal drugs ravaged American cities.

Then came June 19, 1986, when the overdose of a college athlete sent the nation into shock just days after the NBA draft. Basketball star Len Bias could have been anybody's brother or son.

Congress swiftly responded by passing tough mandatory sentences for drug crimes. Those sentences, still in place, pack federal prisons to this day. More than half of the 219,000 federal prisoners are serving time for drug offenses.

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Law
4:38 am
Tue December 16, 2014

From Judges To Inmates, Finding The Human Casualties Of Mandatory Sentencing

NPR's series looks at the human toll of mandatory minimum prison sentences. The White House and the Justice Department have taken the unprecedented step of asking for candidates who might win early release from prison through presidential pardons or commutations in the final years of the Obama presidency.
Dan Henson iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 2:34 pm

The United States spends nearly $7 billion a year to operate a network of federal prisons that house more than 200,000 inmates. About half of them are incarcerated for drug crimes, a legacy of 1980s laws that prosecutors use to target not only kingpins but also low-level couriers and girlfriends. Multiple convictions for small-time offenses under those laws mean thousands of people are locked up for decades, or even the rest of their lives.

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National Security
5:11 am
Tue December 9, 2014

As Torture Report's Release Nears, CIA And Opponents Ready Responses

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 12:27 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Law
4:57 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Justice Department Moves To Further Rein In Racial Profiling

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 7:44 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Law
6:05 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Justice Department Plans New Cybercrime Team

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 1:17 pm

The leader of the Justice Department's criminal division is expected to announce today the creation of a new unit to prevent cybercrime and work alongside law enforcement, private sector companies and Congress.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell will debut the initiative at a daylong CyberCrime2020 symposium at Georgetown University's law school, according to a copy of her prepared remarks.

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It's All Politics
10:02 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Federal Ferguson Investigation Will Remain Independent, Holder Insists

Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson, Mo., in August, where he met with elected and police officials and community members.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 8:15 am

This post was updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Attorney General Eric Holder says "far more must be done to create enduring trust" between police and communities they serve, even as his Justice Department continues to investigate possible discriminatory police actions in Ferguson, Mo.

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The Two-Way
10:02 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Holder Calls For Calm As Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Looms

Attorney General Eric Holder, pictured Sept. 4, says "durable relationships between police and their communities do not develop overnight."
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 3:49 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder is urging law enforcement officers and protesters to keep the peace as a grand jury decision nears about whether to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for shooting dead a black 18-year-old who was unarmed in Ferguson, Mo.

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Law
5:02 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Brooklyn Prosecutor Could Be Nominated Attorney General In Coming Days

Loretta Lynch has handled or supervised a wide range of cases including New York police brutality against a Haitian immigrant, a $45 million cybertheft involving ATMs and the ongoing fraud prosecution of Republican Rep. Michael Grimm of New York.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 5:59 pm

Two sources familiar with the process tell NPR that Loretta Lynch, the top prosecutor in Brooklyn, could be nominated by President Obama as attorney general in the coming days.

Lynch is the lead federal prosecutor in a district that serves 8 million people. But outside of law enforcement circles, this daughter of a preacher is not widely known. Friends say that's because Lynch prefers to let her cases speak for themselves.

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National Security
6:30 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

Security Beefed Up At Federal Buildings Across U.S.

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 8:27 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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It's All Politics
3:40 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Labor Secretary Eyed As White House Searches To Replace Attorney General

Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez is a top candidate to be the next attorney general, according to sources familiar with the process.
T.J. Kirkpatrick Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 10, 2014 3:50 pm

NPR has learned Labor Secretary Thomas Perez is a top candidate to be the next attorney general. Three sources familiar with the process say the issue is on the desk of President Obama, who has yet to decide among a relatively short list of options.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in an email Friday that "we have no personnel announcements at this time."

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U.S.
10:16 am
Sun September 28, 2014

With The End In Sight, Holder Reflects On His Legacy

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, shown speaking at the Congressional Black Caucus legislative conference on Friday, will be stepping down from his position as soon as a replacement is appointed.
T.J. Kirkpatrick Getty Images

Originally published on Sun September 28, 2014 3:21 pm

A day after Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation, he made a long-planned visit to Scranton, Penn.

That's where he won his first big trial as a young public corruption prosecutor nearly 40 years ago. And he says coming to this federal courthouse now, returning to the site of his earliest legal success, makes sense.

"This, for me, was ... almost like completing a circle," he says. "I came here as a young and inexperienced trial lawyer and I came back as the head of the agency that I had just joined back in 1978."

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Law
11:11 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Victories For LGBT, Civil Rights Among Holder's Legacy

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Politics
8:27 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Despite A Bumpy Tenure, Holder Had A Broad Impact

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

Eric Holder's arrival in early February 2009 had all the hallmarks of a homecoming. Justice Department employees fatigued by scandals in President Bush's second term greeted Holder with sustained applause.

The Senate was receptive too, confirming him on a 75-21 vote and officially making him the first African-American attorney general in U.S. history.

But soon after he took the helm at Justice, Holder ran into headwinds — at times generated by his own words.

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The Two-Way
10:40 am
Thu September 25, 2014

Eric Holder To Step Down As Attorney General

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during a Sept. 4 news conference at the Justice Department in Washington.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 8:29 am

This post was last updated at 4:44 p.m. ET.

Eric Holder Jr., the nation's first black U.S. attorney general, will resign his post after a tumultuous tenure marked by civil rights advances, national security threats, reforms to the criminal justice system and 5 1/2 years of fights with Republicans in Congress.

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Law
3:32 am
Fri September 12, 2014

20 Years Later, Parts Of Major Crime Bill Viewed As Terrible Mistake

Surrounded by lawmakers, President Bill Clinton hugs then-Sen. Joseph Biden after signing the $30 billion crime bill at the White House on Sept. 13, 1994.
Dennis Cook AP

Originally published on Fri September 12, 2014 1:41 pm

Twenty years ago this week, in 1994, then-President Bill Clinton signed a crime bill. It was, in effect, a long-term experiment in various ways to fight crime.

The measure paid to put more cops on the beat, trained police and lawyers to investigate domestic violence, imposed tougher prison sentences and provided money for extra prisons.

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Law
4:36 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Holder Says Ferguson Probe Will Look For Source Of Police Mistrust

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that the Justice Department's civil rights division will launch a broad civil rights investigation in the Ferguson, Mo., police department.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 10:09 am

The Justice Department has launched a broad investigation into the actions of police in Ferguson, Mo. A white police officer there shot an unarmed 18-year-old black man last month, touching off protests and episodes of violence.

Attorney General Eric Holder says he's taking a closer look to get to the bottom of deep mistrust of local police.

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The Two-Way
2:34 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

No. 3 Justice Department Official To Depart For The Private Sector

Associate Attorney General Tony West, at podium, speaks at the Justice Department in Washington on Aug. 21. West is preparing to announce he is leaving government for a job in the private sector.
Lauren Victoria Burke AP

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 3:36 pm

Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET

Associate Attorney General Tony West, the third in command at the U.S. Justice Department, is preparing to announce he will leave government for a job in the private sector, two sources familiar with the decision tell NPR.

In a statement, the Justice Department confirmed West's planned departure.

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Governing
4:42 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Legal Questions Loom As Obama Weighs Military Action In Syria

President Obama says he agrees that Congress should have buy-in on military intervention against the Islamic State.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 8:40 pm

The White House is working behind the scenes to develop a strategy for fighting the Islamic State in Syria, a strategy that could include airstrikes and other military action there. But there are already lots of questions in political and national security circles about the legal authority the Obama administration might use to justify those actions.

In the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress authorized the White House to use military force — broad authority to strike against al-Qaida.

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Law
3:47 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Former Border Protection Insider Alleges Corruption, Distortion In Agency

James Tomsheck poses in his office in Washington in June 2009. At the time, he was assistant commissioner for internal affairs with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 8:53 am

Two months ago, James Tomsheck was pushed out of his job as internal affairs chief for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

At the time, authorities criticized him for not doing enough to investigate abuse and corruption.

But now Tomsheck tells a very different story: about a culture that goes out of its way to evade legal restraints.

Use of force by law enforcement agents along the Southwest border has drawn attention and criticism recently, after reports that Border Patrol agents shot and killed unarmed migrants and faced no consequences.

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Around the Nation
3:41 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Holder Seeks To Soothe Nerves During Visit To Ferguson

Attorney General Eric Holder participates in a closed-door meeting Wednesday with students at St. Louis Community College, Florissant Valley.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 1:07 pm

The nation's top law enforcement officer traveled to Ferguson, Mo., on Wednesday to wrap his arms around a community in pain.

Attorney General Eric Holder hugged community leaders, a highway patrol captain and the mother of Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old killed by a police officer earlier this month.

From the moment he walked into a soul food restaurant in Ferguson, the attorney general found friends and began getting reports on the community's mood after days of protests and sporadic violence.

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Law
4:16 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

What Washington Can, And Can't, Do In Ferguson

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 6:18 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

It's All Politics
5:19 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Attorney General Holder: Ferguson Scenes Cannot Continue

Attorney General Eric Holder at a July 14 press conference. On Thursday, Holder outlined the federal response to recent events in Ferguson, Mo.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Thu August 14, 2014 7:59 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder says federal investigators have already conducted interviews with eyewitnesses to the shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager in Ferguson, Mo., even as he pledged new assistance from the Justice Department to quell "extreme displays of force" and militarization by heavily armed local police there.

"It is clear that the scenes playing out in the streets of Ferguson over the last several nights cannot continue," Holder said.

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Politics
3:49 am
Wed August 6, 2014

After Discrimination Finding, Jury's Out On Memphis Juvenile Courts

Juvenile wing of the Orleans Parish Prison in Louisiana. In Memphis, the juvenile court system was criticized for inadequate defense of their clients and treating minority children more harshly.
Richard Ross Juvenile In Justice

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 10:55 am

For people connected to the Memphis juvenile courts, April 2012 is unforgettable. That's when federal investigators determined that the Shelby County juvenile court system discriminated against African-American defendants.

The Justice Department said the system punished black children more harshly than whites. In the most incendiary finding, investigators said the court detained black children and sent them to be tried in the adult system twice as often as whites.

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Law
4:09 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Coaches Help Released Inmates Step From The Cell Into A Job

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 7:31 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Law
4:28 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

By Putting Interrogations On Tape, FBI Opens Window Into Questioning

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 6:35 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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