Ongoing Coverage:

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
3:52 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
1:59 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
2:54 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 9:27 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
8:59 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 5:06 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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Law
1:01 pm
Tue October 18, 2011

Businesses Push Back On Foreign Bribery Law

One of the federal government's few success stories when it comes to policing corporate crime in recent years comes from a post-Watergate law called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA.

Prosecutors have used the law to get more than $1 billion in bribery fines out of huge companies like Siemens and DaimlerChrysler.

But now the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pushing back: It has hired former Justice Department leaders to make the case that the law is out of date.

Critics: Law Has Huge Consequences

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The Two-Way
8:04 am
Tue October 18, 2011

Justice Dept. Lawyer Exonerated, Back With Public Integrity Section

A Justice Department lawyer has returned to the unit that prosecutes sensitive public corruption cases after being transferred more than two years ago in the aftermath of the botched case against the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).

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Law
2:01 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Holder Takes Heat Over 'Fast And Furious' Scandal

Old hands in Washington know it's never a good sign when the president of the United States has to make a statement like this one.

"I have complete confidence in Attorney General Holder, in how he handles his office," President Obama told reporters at a news conference Thursday. "He has been very aggressive in going after gun running and cash transactions that are going to these transnational drug cartels."

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National Security
3:51 pm
Fri September 30, 2011

Debate Erupts Over Legality Of Al-Awlaki's Killing

Within moments of Anwar al-Awlaki's death, debate erupted over whether the U.S. had a legal basis to target one of its own citizens with deadly force.

Last year, President Obama put al-Awlaki on a secret list that gave the intelligence community a green light to target him in a deadly drone attack.

The move bothered human rights advocates so much that they sued, enlisting al-Awlaki's father as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

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Law
3:55 am
Thu September 29, 2011

'Underwear Bomber' Set To Act As His Own Lawyer

An undated photo of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab posing in London.
Mike Rimmer AFP/Getty Images

When prospective jurors file into a Detroit courthouse next week for the start of a major terrorism trial, all eyes will be on the defendant, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The young man from Nigeria may be best known for allegedly trying to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear on a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day 2009. Lately, his decision to fire his lawyers and defend himself is putting him back in the spotlight all over again.

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Around the Nation
3:00 am
Thu September 22, 2011

Judge Dismiss Ala. Challenge To Voting Rights Act

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. has upheld a key part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Shelby County, Alabama, had sued to get out from under requirements that it send all of its election changes to the federal government for pre- approval to protect the interest of minority voters. A judge threw out the lawsuit saying that Congress had acted within its power under the Constitution.

The Two-Way
3:21 pm
Mon September 19, 2011

Justices Department Expresses Concern Over Texas Redistricting Plan

The United States Justice Department expressed concern Monday about whether new Texas redistricting plans for four U.S. House seats comply with the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which protects the interests of minority voters.

In a filing with a special three-judge court panel in Washington D.C., civil rights lawyers at Justice wrote that they doubted new boundaries for the House seats "maintain or increase the ability of minority voters to elect their candidate of choice."

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Law
11:01 pm
Sun September 18, 2011

Could Texas' Redistricting Leave Latinos Behind?

The Texas State Capitol is seen late Jan. 18, in Austin.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Mon September 19, 2011 4:25 am

Political experts are keeping a close eye on Texas because it will pick up four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives next year, thanks to a soaring Latino population. But civil rights groups and the U.S. Justice Department are signaling they may have some concerns about the redistricting process in Texas and whether it could put Latino voters at a disadvantage.

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The Two-Way
10:05 am
Tue September 13, 2011

Report: Marshals Service Needs To Improve Its Handling Of Felons' Assets

Federal watchdogs say the U.S. Marshals Service needs to do a better job of valuing and selling assets tied to fraudsters and organized crime figures.

The Justice Department's inspector general has found poor oversight and problems with record keeping that could be costing taxpayers money.

The Marshals Service has managed investments, homes and jewelry tied to many prominent criminals over the past five years. The prominent felons include Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff and organized crime figure James Galante.

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