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Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a news writer for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett and interned at The L Magazine. At New York University she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, The Washington Square News. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Catherine

President Barack Obama said in a Friday press conference that the United States "can and must be more transparent" in gathering intelligence for national security. 

Obama listed transparency as one of four steps his administration would take to address privacy and civil liberties with respect to surveillance. The president said he directed the intelligence community to "make public as much information about these programs as possible" and go further with declassifying information about National Security Agency surveillance programs.

President Barack Obama said Friday that he didn't believe Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information about National Security Agency data collection programs to several news publications, was a "patriot."

The president said in a press conference that he had signed executive orders offering whistleblower protection to the intelligence community, so there there were "other avenues" available to someone like Snowden "whose conscience was stirred and thought they needed to question government actions."

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona announced Thursday that he would issue semiautomatic AR-15 rifles to all patrol deputies and require them to carry a firearm even when off-duty, the Arizona Republic reported. 

The move was apparently unrelated to an incident earlier in the day when a jail worker with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office was shot to death in his front yard while starting his truck, according to the newspaper. Plans for the news conference had been made earlier in the week. Still, Arpaio used the opportunity to talk about the death of his employee.

"It’s very sad what happened,” Arpaio said, as quoted by the Republic. “This unfortunate situation that occurred dovetails somewhat into ... issuing my officers these semiautomatic AR-15 assault rifles.”

A news release from the sheriff's office said the agency had obtained 400 AR-15s in a process that took a few months to complete. The rifles were purchased with $500,000 seized under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, according to the newspaper. Arpaio said the AR-15s have an advantage over handguns in that they will help deputies counter suspects who have greater firepower.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) joined other prominent politicians including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) in calling on embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) to resign over allegations of sexual harassment.

In an open letter to Filner issued Friday, Boxer said that allegations Filner made advances towards women who were victims of sexual assault in the military have "shaken her to her core." From the letter: 

But now I must say this directly to you: Bob, you must resign because you have betrayed the trust of the women you have victimized, the San Diegans you represent and the people you have worked with throughout your decades in public life. 

I have worked for so many years to prevent and punish sexual violence and sexual harassment, wherever they occur. As we fight in the Senate to stand up for the men and women in our military who are survivors of sexual assault, I have heard their stories, seen the anguish in their faces, listened to them talk about the pain that will always be with them. Let me be clear: The latest revelations regarding your behavior toward women recovering from sexual assault – women who desperately need our help – have shaken me to my core. 

Bob, you have already hurt so many people. To avoid hurting your victims and the people of San Diego more than you already have, you should step down immediately. 

Read the full letter here

Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) responded Friday to news reports that his half-brother, Bruce W. Browne, had been arrested for allegedly impersonating a police officer.

"For those of you who are asking about the news reports on my estranged half brother, I only know as much as you. I read about it in the news this morning," he wrote on his Facebook page, clarifying that Browne, who spells his last name differently, is his half-brother. Wolcott police Chief Edward Stephens had previously told the Associated Press that the two men were brothers. 

"As you many of you know, my mom and my late father were married and divorced 4 times each. Unfortunately, we were not close as a family," Brown continued. "These are serious charges and he will need to answer them. I feel badly for his children and I am thankful that no one was injured."

Secure communications provider Silent Circle Inc. announced to customers Thursday that it had shut down its email service, Reuters reported.

The announcement from co-founder Jon Callas came soon after the secure email provider allegedly used by Edward Snowden, Lavabit, cryptically announced it was shuttering in the face of what seemed to be government requests for user information.

In a blog post, Callas said that the company saw the "writing on the wall" when Lavabit shut down their system.

"We see the writing the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now," Callas wrote. "We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now."

Email "cannot have the same security guarantees that real-time communications has," according to Callas, but he assured the company would continue to offer secure phone calls and text messaging.

[Image via PRNewsFhoto/Silent Circle]

The brother of former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) was arrested Thursday in Connecticut for allegedly impersonating a police officer and stopping boaters on Long Island Sound. 

Police found Bruce W. Browne driving a blue Crown Victoria mounted with "hide-away" lights while responding to reports of a man with a gun, according to Boston's WBZ. Police told the news station that Browne was in possession of a bullet-proof vest marked "POLICE," a TSA badge, and three loaded 9mm handguns with 12 fully-loaded magazines. 

Investigators told WBZ that Browne had comandeered a boat while identifying himself as a "Police/Coast Guard" official earlier in the day, allegedly presenting expired Coast Guard identification. Browne had stopped three boats on Long Island Sound and asked their for registration and safety certificates, police told the Associated Press

Wolcott police Chief Edward Stephens told the AP that Browne is indeed the brother of the former senator. It's unclear why the men spell their last names differently.

Late update: Scott Brown responded to news of Browne's arrest on his Facebook page, clarifying that Browne is his estranged half-brother. Brown wrote "these are serious charges and he will need to answer them. I feel badly for his children and I am thankful that no one was injured."

A top official in Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) administration was fired Thursday after posting a rant on Facebook comparing undocumented immigrants to "Satan," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Steven Krieser, assistant deputy secretary in the state's Department of Transportation, was responding to a photo of bumper stickers reading "USA Illegal Immigrant Hunting Permit" shared by state Rep. Gordon Hintz (D), who condemned their sale at a local gas station. The exchange was archived by the Journal Sentinel.

Krieser admitted that the sticker may have been "over the top." He then voiced his view that undocumented immigrants "routinely steal the identities of millions of legitimate, actual Americans" and "raid" homes and "trash" land in border states, "breeding the animus that many American citizens feel toward them."  

"You may see Jesus when you look at them. I see Satan," Krieser wrote. "And if they don't like it here, hey, the door they came through to get here swings both ways."

Walker fired Krieser less than two hours after his office learned of the comments, according to the Journal Sentinel.

"These comments are repugnant, completely unacceptable, and have no place in Governor Walker's administration," a Walker spokesman told the Journal Sentinel. "Governor Walker condemns his views, and they do not represent the governor or his administration in any way."

The Journal Sentinel reached Krieser before his firing, and the DOT official apologized for his "poor choice of words" on the post he had already removed.

"If I had it to do over, I would not have put it up. I certainly didn't mean any offense," he told the newspaper.

Outspoken liberal actor Alec Baldwin is on the verge of getting his own weekly program on MSNBC's primetime lineup, Mediaite reported Thursday.

An anonymous source, which the website described as "a senior source in the cable news industry with knowledge of MSNBC’s programming," told Mediaite that the "30 Rock" star's as-yet-untitled show is a done deal and would air Friday nights in the 10 p.m. ET slot. Since the show would air on Friday's primetime lineup, Baldwin's entrance to the network wouldn't unseat any of its weeknight anchors.

An MSNBC source told Mediaite "We're fans of Alec but we've got nothing to say regarding this unconfirmed report."

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