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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National Security
12:01 am
Tue November 15, 2011

As Iraq Hostilities End, Fate Of Combatant Unclear

U.S. authorities must now decide the fate of Ali Mussa Daqduq — shown here on a poster at a 2007 U.S. military news conference in Baghdad — and other enemy combatants once troops withdraw from Iraq.
Chris Hondros AFP/Getty Images

As the U.S. winds down operations in Iraq, national security officials have a big decision to make: what to do with a senior explosives expert captured by American troops five years ago.

Ali Mussa Daqduq is accused of organizing a kidnapping in Iraq that left five U.S. service members dead. But authorities don't have the power to hold him indefinitely under the congressional authorization approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks because he's tied to Hezbollah, a militant group from Lebanon — not al-Qaida.

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Around the Nation
4:46 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

Gangs Enter New Territory With Sex Trafficking

Weapons and paraphernalia from gangs are displayed during a news conference in 2006. Authorities in Fairfax, Va., have brought five prostitution cases in the past year against gangs. One member of the MS-13 gang was recently sentenced to life in prison for sex trafficking.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

The MS-13 gang got its start among immigrants from El Salvador in the 1980s. Since then, the gang has built operations in 42 states, mostly out West and in the Northeastern United States, where members typically deal in drugs and weapons.

But in Fairfax County, Va., one of the wealthiest places in the country, authorities have brought five cases in the past year that focus on gang members who have pushed women, sometimes very young women, into prostitution.

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The Two-Way
9:36 am
Thu November 10, 2011

Documents Reveal More Potential Evidence-Sharing Failures By Justice Dept.

Justice Department lawyers prosecuting a former CIA agent for leaking classified information allegedly lagged in turning over evidence that would help the intelligence operative with his defense, causing the judge to bar a pair of government witnesses from testifying.

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The Two-Way
6:11 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Former Ariz. U.S. Attorney Admits Leaking 'Fast And Furious' Memo

Originally published on Tue November 8, 2011 8:55 pm

Former Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke came forward Tuesday to take responsibility for his role in leaking a memo used to cast aspersions on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent who had blown the whistle to Congress about a botched gun-trafficking operation.

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National Security
3:00 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Holder Fields Tough Questions From Lawmakers

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is sworn in before testifying during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about the controversial "Fast and Furious" gun-trafficking program on Tuesday.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 8, 2011 10:15 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder spent almost three hours on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, getting a grilling from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about a flawed gun-trafficking operation that let hundreds of guns flow across the Southwest border.

But even after the Justice Department oversight hearing, Republican lawmakers say there are lots of questions that remain unanswered.

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Law
4:52 am
Wed November 2, 2011

Court To Decide If Texas Voting Maps Discriminate

A sign in Spanish and English tells residents of El Paso, Texas, where to vote.

Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 2:56 pm

Lawyers for President Obama's Justice Department and Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be squaring off in federal court in Washington on Wednesday.

The state has sued the federal government to try to win court approval for its new legislative maps. There are big stakes: Texas stands to gain four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. But minorities in Texas, with a boost from the Justice Department, say the new boundaries amount to a step backward for Latino voting power.

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Law
4:52 am
Tue November 1, 2011

Official Admits 'Mistake' In Gun-Trafficking Case

U.S. Border Patrol vehicles drive from a checkpoint in December 2010, as teams of border officers comb the Arizona desert about 10 miles north of Mexico in search for a suspect in the fatal shooting of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in the rugged terrain in Rio Rico, Ariz.

Ross D. Franklin ASSOCIATED PRESS

A top political appointee in the Obama Justice Department says he made a "mistake" when he didn't flag questionable tactics used by federal agents in a gun-trafficking case for his superiors last year.

Lanny A. Breuer, assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division, told NPR he found out in April 2010 that agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had let more than 400 guns connected to suspicious buyers cross the Southwest border during the Bush years, but he didn't tell senior leadership at the Justice Department.

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The Two-Way
2:59 pm
Fri October 28, 2011

Watchdogs Take Back Claim About $16 Muffins

Federal watchdogs now concede they made a mistake when they criticized the Justice Department for paying $16 each for muffins at a conference. But they also say Justice still needs to be careful about how it spends taxpayer money.

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Law
3:54 am
Wed October 26, 2011

As It Turns 10, Patriot Act Remains Controversial

Protesters hold up signs outside of Federal Hall during a demonstration against then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2003 in New York City.

Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 26, 2011 10:27 am

Ten years ago, on Oct. 26, 2001, President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act.

Congress overwhelmingly passed the law only weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. It's designed to give the FBI more power to collect information in cases that involve national security.

But in the decade since then, civil liberties groups have raised concerns about whether the Patriot Act goes too far by scooping up too much data and violating people's rights to privacy.

Nicholas Merrill is one of the people sounding an alarm.

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Law
9:59 am
Mon October 24, 2011

Big Fight Brewing In Senate Over Defense Policy Bill

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has criticized the Obama administration's stance on the detainee policy in the defense bill.

Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 25, 2011 6:06 pm

A big fight is brewing in the Senate over the national defense policy bill. It's legislation that would authorize a pay raise and other benefits for U.S. troops.

But the bipartisan bill also contains a provision about detainees that's raising alarms at the White House, because the Obama administration says the measure would tie its hands in some terrorism cases.

The defense authorization bill has pitted President Obama's national security advisers against some prominent Democrats in the U.S. Senate.

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