Carrie Johnson

Carrie Johnson covers the Justice Department for NPR.

She has spent the last decade and a half chronicling legal affairs in the nation's capital and beyond. Johnson worked at the Washington Post from 2000 to 2010, when 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.

Johnson's work has won 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. She lives in Washington but always is planning her next exotic trip.

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11:11am

Fri September 26, 2014
Law

Victories For LGBT, Civil Rights Among Holder's Legacy

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

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11:07am

Thu September 25, 2014
The Two-Way

Eric Holder To Step Down As Attorney General

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

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

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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3:32am

Fri September 12, 2014
Law

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

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

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

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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4:36pm

Thu September 4, 2014
Law

Holder Says Ferguson Probe Will Look For Source Of Police Mistrust

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

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

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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2:34pm

Wed September 3, 2014
The Two-Way

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

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

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

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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5:42pm

Fri August 29, 2014
Governing

Legal Questions Loom As Obama Weighs Military Action In Syria

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

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

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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3:47am

Thu August 28, 2014
Law

Former Border Protection Insider Alleges Corruption, Distortion In Agency

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

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

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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3:41am

Thu August 21, 2014
Around the Nation

Holder Seeks To Soothe Nerves During Visit To Ferguson

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

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

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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4:16pm

Mon August 18, 2014
Law

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/.

5:19pm

Thu August 14, 2014
It's All Politics

Attorney General Holder: Ferguson Scenes Cannot Continue

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

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

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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4:09pm

Tue July 29, 2014
Law

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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4:28pm

Mon July 21, 2014
Law

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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4:19pm

Fri July 18, 2014
Law

Unanimous Vote Could Mean Reduced Penalties For 46,000 Defendants

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 7:54 pm

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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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4:19pm

Wed July 16, 2014
Law

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

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 1:00 pm

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

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4:02pm

Thu July 10, 2014
Law

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

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 7:04 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.

3:32pm

Thu July 10, 2014
The Two-Way

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

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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4:13pm

Tue July 8, 2014
News

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

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 6:13 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.

2:27pm

Tue July 8, 2014
The Two-Way

Case Against Benghazi Suspect Is Complex, Justice Department Says

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 3:01 pm

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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4:34pm

Wed July 2, 2014
National Security

Benghazi Suspect Spends A Day In Court

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 7:20 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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4:17pm

Mon June 30, 2014
Law

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

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 7:01 pm

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12:03am

Thu June 26, 2014
The Two-Way

Report Questions U.S. Policy On Overseas Drone Strikes

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 3:18 am

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

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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5:04am

Wed June 25, 2014
Politics

Murdered Voting Advocate's Brother Wants Protections Back

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 6:51 pm

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

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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4:07pm

Mon June 23, 2014
Law

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

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 8:07 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.

3:31am

Mon June 9, 2014
National Security

FBI Director Comey Looks Ahead To His Next Nine Years

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

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

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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5:35pm

Fri June 6, 2014
Law

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

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 7:29 pm

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

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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4:32pm

Thu June 5, 2014
News

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

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 7:58 pm

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4:47pm

Fri May 30, 2014
The Two-Way

House Vote Aims To Derail DOJ Processing Of Clemency Petitions

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 6:41 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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5:47pm

Fri May 23, 2014
Politics

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

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 6:04 pm

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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5:30pm

Wed May 21, 2014
The Two-Way

New DOJ Policy Urges Agents To Videotape Interrogations

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 6:49 pm

Department of Justice

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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4:10pm

Wed May 21, 2014
National Security

Senate Advances Judicial Nominee Who Wrote Drone Strike Policy

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 9:21 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.

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