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

Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said Monday that "dozens of countries" will support the United States in carrying out a military strike against Syria.

Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer which countries would use their own military power to attack Syrian targets, Schultz said she was "not at liberty to say."

"What I can tell you is that there are many nations who have committed to support the United States in our action," she told Blitzer, as quoted by CNN. "In both military and diplomatic and political support, there are dozens of nations who have committed to back us up. That's what I'm at liberty to say."

While French President Francois Hollande has said his country is "ready to punish" Syria over its use of chemical weapons, other nations have not committed to military intervention or are opposed to it. The British parliament rejected military action last week despite strong support for a strike from Prime Minister David Cameron, and Russian President Vladmir Putin, a strong ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, called the idea that the Assad regime would have used chemical weapons "utter nonsense."

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos gave his first interview to the Washington Post since purchasing the paper for $250 million, saying he'd apply his same philosophy for running Amazon to the newspaper while suggesting he'd take a hands-off approach to running the business.

"We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient,” Bezos told the Post in an interview published Tuesday. “If you replace ‘customer’ with ‘reader,’ that approach, that point of view, can be successful at The Post, too.”

He said his most significant contributions would be his "point of view" and financial support over the long term, allowing the newsroom to find a model that will make the Post profitable.

"If we figure out a new golden era at The Post . . . that will be due to the ingenuity and inventiveness and experimentation of the team at The Post,” he said. “I’ll be there with advice from a distance. If we solve that problem, I won’t deserve credit for it."

President Barack Obama met with Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Monday at the White House as part of his push to secure congressional approval for a limited military strike against Syria. They were joined by National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dismissed evidence the United States and France said shows his regime used chemical weapons on Syrian civilians, warning that any planned military response could result in a "regional war." 

In excerpts from an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro published Monday, Assad suggested it was illogical to think his army would have employed chemical weapons on Aug. 21 in Damascus, where its own soldiers were stationed.

"Someone who makes accusations needs proof," Assad said, as translated by Al Jazeera. "We challenged the U.S. and France to show us proof. Mr. Obama and Hollande were incapable even when asked to do so by their own peoples."

As for his response to a potential military strike on his country, Assad compared the Middle East to a "powder keg" and told Le Figaro that a first strike from the West could prompt responses from other corners of the region.

"Everyone will lose control of the situation when the powder keg explodes," he said, as translated by Al Jazeera. "Chaos and extremism will be widespread. The risk of a regional war exists."

Secretary of State John Kerry told House Democrats on Monday that the decision whether or not to authorize a military response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime's use of chemical weapons was a "Munich moment" for the United States, Politico reported.

Democratic sources on the 70-minute conference call told Politico that Kerry called Assad a "two-bit dictator" who will "continue to act with impunity." The secretary of state urged lawmakers to support President Barack Obama's decision to use force against Syria in the form of "limited, narrow" strikes, reminding them that Israel would back a U.S. military response, according to the sources.

While House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) voiced support for the White House position on the call, sources told Politico that not all participants were receptive to Kerry's message. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) and Kerry reportedly got into a "heated exchange" when Nolan challenged evidence the Obama administration presented last week to support its claim that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians.

The Navy aircraft carrier USS Nimitz has moved into the Red Sea but has not received orders to participate in planning for a limited U.S. military strike on Syria, ABC News reported Monday.

A U.S. official confirmed to ABC News that early Monday the Nimitz, along with four other ships, moved into the Red Sea to "maximize available options," although it has not been assigned a mission. Reuters first reported Sunday that the Nimitz and its strike group were headed towards the Red Sea from their previous position in the Indian Ocean to support a strike if needed.

There are now five U.S. destroyers in position in the eastern Mediterranean, according to ABC News, which U.S. officials said would likely carry out any limited cruise missile strikes.

Pope Francis reflected on the current state of world affairs Sunday and Monday on his Twitter account, praying for peace as news about the United States' efforts to garner international support for a military strike on Syria dominated weekend headlines.

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) on Monday called a self-imposed "red line" by President Barack Obama's on the use of chemical weapons in Syria "embarrassing," firmly arguing that American troops should not be reeled into the conflict.

Asked by MSNBC host Mara Schiavocampo whether he was concerned that not authorizing a military strike would send the wrong message to Syria, the New York Democrat said "I love Obama," but a president drawing a red line that could potentially lead the nation to war was "unheard of." 

"So, of course, it’s embarrassing," Rangel said. "I wish it didn’t happen. I guess Secretary [John] Kerry is even more embarrassed than me after making his emotional speech that this was urgent."

Rangel added that he was glad Obama decided to give Congress the opportunity to debate a military strike before ordering one himself.

"During those discussions, I hope that other people in the international community would come forward and take this great decision off of the Congress, because we have to make it," he said. "Take it off of the Congress and provide some solution where we are not putting our kids in harm’s way to solve an international problem that we feel bounded, not by law, but because the president has drawn a red line."

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Syria is calling on the United Nations to prevent "any aggression on Syria" following President Barack Obama's decision to use force in response to a chemical weapons attack in Damascus last month, Reuters reported Monday.

Syrian Ambassador to the U.N. Bashar Ja'afari wrote in a letter to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and President of the Security Council Maria Perceval that the U.N. Security Council should "maintain its role as a safety valve to prevent the absurd use of force out of the frame of international legitimacy," according to state news agency SANA.

Ja'afari also wrote that the U.S. should "play its role, as a peace sponsor and as a partner to Russia in the preparation for the international conference on Syria and not as a state that uses force against whoever opposes its policies," as quoted by Reuters.

President Barack Obama plans to meet with Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Monday at the White House in an attempt to drum up support for limited military strikes against Syria, The Hill reported. 

McCain and Graham released a joint statement on Saturday that expressed their support for military action while cautioning that they believe isolated military strikes don't go far enough to deter the Assad regime. 

"However, we cannot in good conscience support isolated military strikes in Syria that are not part of an overall strategy that can change the momentum on the battlefield, achieve the President's stated goal of Assad's removal from power, and bring an end to this conflict, which is a growing threat to our national security interests," the statement read. "Anything short of this would be an inadequate response to the crimes against humanity that Assad and his forces are committing."