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

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) said Friday that although he has seen the country make much progress in civil rights since the March on Washington in 1963, there are still "forces all across our country" that seek to challenge the movement.

"If someone had told me 50 years ago that an African-American would be in the White House as the president, I probably would have said you’re crazy. You are out of your mind. You don’t know what you’re talking about," Lewis told MSNBC's Rev. Al Sharpton in an interview at the National Mall, where he addressed crowds 50 years ago. "The country is a different country, and we’re better people."

When asked to compare challenges to the civil rights movement in that era to today, Lewis, a vocal supporter of the Voting Rights Act, said the movement still faces resistance. 

“Forces, not just forces in the American South, but forces all across our country want to take us back to another period and we have to say, ‘We are not going back, we have come too far now to stop,’" he said.  

Watch the interview below, courtesy of MSNBC:

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Former Vice President Dick Cheney (R) and his daughter Liz Cheney made a joint appearance at the conservative Steamboat Institute's annual Freedom Conference on Friday, where they expressed disappointment with President Barack Obama's attitude toward national security.

The former vice president, who made national security a priority in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, stressed that the U.S. is still under threat at home.

“The biggest threat facing us are terrorists armed with something more dangerous than plane tickets and box cutters,” Cheney told the sold-out crowd in Steamboat Springs, Colo., as quoted by the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Liz Cheney, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Wyoming, was critical of Obama's attitude toward conflicts on foreign soil. Cheney said that one only has to watch the news on television to see that "the world is worse when America is weak or walks away," according to the newspaper. 

The Cheneys agreed that National Security Agency surveillance programs are in the best interests of national security, but said that a change in leadership is necessary for the country's safety.

“The NSA is a well-run program,” Dick Cheney said, as quoted by the Pilot & Today. “It’s an important program. The president doesn’t concur with a lot of views on national security. But you wouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The president is not up to the job and doesn’t have the same core values we do. We shouldn’t limit our defense or defense tools. We just need to beat him in the next election."

City officials said Friday that San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) has signed a letter of resignation pending the city council's approval of a settlement proposal in a sexual harassment suit filed against the mayor, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The city council is scheduled to review the proposal in a closed-door meeting at 1 p.m. PST.

President Barack Obama on Friday rejected the notion that the federal government is in the midst of a deficit crisis, arguing that the deficit is actually on a downward trajectory even as the GOP pushes to curb spending in areas like healthcare and education.

"We don't have an urgent deficit crisis. The only crisis we have is one that's manufactured in Washington, and it's ideological," Obama said at a town hall event at Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y. "And the basic notion is, is that we shouldn't be helping people get health care and we shouldn't be helping kids who can't help themselves and whose parents are under-resourced, we shouldn't be helping them get a leg up."

Bronwyn Ingram, the ex-fiancee of embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D), told CBS News that she believes her former partner's behavior had nothing to do with "sex or love" and everything to do with "power and control."

Asked in an interview that aired Friday on "CBS This Morning" whether she saw Filner behave inappropriately towards other women while the pair was still engaged, Ingram said no. But she added it would be "hard to believe" the 18 women who have accused Filner of making inappropriate advances had fabricated their stories. 

"I don't think it has anything to do with sex or love," Ingram said. "I think it has to do with power and control, so of course, it feels awful, it feels horrible. Like any woman would feel if the person she thought she had an exclusive relationship with isn't behaving the same way. It's very hurtful."  

Ingram announced that she had broken off the engagement soon after the allegations against Filner first became public. She had called for Filner's resignation in a statement, writing that she "witnessed a severe deterioration in Bob’s ability to engage with anyone in a civil manner."

Watch the interview below, courtesy of CBS News:

A private school in Bryant, Ark. has posted signs notifying people that its staff has been trained and armed, Little Rock television station KARK reported Thursday.

Rev. Perry Black, an administrator at the Arkansas Christian Academy, told KARK that one to seven staff members are armed on any given day. Black, who also has armed security present for his Sunday services, posted signs outside the academy that read "Staff is armed and trained. Any attempt to harm children will be met with deadly force," according to the news station.

"I just felt like with what's going on in many of the public sectors where there seems to be a lot of shootings we need to take the same stance that we do in church on Sunday for our kids Monday through Friday," Black told KARK. 

Earlier this month, state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel shut down an Arkansas public school's attempt to train and arm more than 20 teachers and staff with concealed 9mm handguns. McDaniel stated in his legal opinion that "a state board that licenses private security agencies didn’t have the authority to allow districts to employ their teachers and staff as security guards," according to the Associated Press. It's unclear whether the Arkansas Christian Academy similarly classifies armed staff members as security guards.

Outgoing FBI director Robert Mueller told CNN Thursday that he believes the nature of terror threats has changed since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, but that increased information-sharing between government agencies has made it possible to better thwart those attacks.

"After September 11th, you had core al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan with (Osama) bin Laden. Bin Laden was killed. You have al Qaeda growing in countries like Somalia, but most particularly in Yemen," he said, according to CNN's transcript of the interview. "And now you have the countries in the Arab Spring ... where they're breeding grounds for radical extremists who may not stay there, but may present an attack."

"Finally, you have, within the United States, the growth of homegrown, radicalized extremists who are radicalized on the Internet and then get their instructions for developing explosives on the Internet, as well," he continued. 

Mueller further rejected that notion that National Security Agency surveillance programs, which he previously said could have prevented the 9/11 attacks, create a "Big Brother" presence that violates civil liberties.

"I would query about what do you mean in terms of civil liberties. ... Do we exchange information in ways we did not before? Absolutely," he told CNN. "You can say that that to the extent that you exchange information between CIA, FBI, NSA and the like, you could characterize that as somehow giving up liberties. But the fact of the matter is, it's understandable and absolutely necessary if you want to protect the security of the United States."

President Barack Obama said in an interview that aired Friday that recent revelations the National Security Agency had collected Americans' emails prove that oversight for such surveillance programs is working properly.

Obama told CNN's "New Day" the data collection was "inadvertent" and attributed it to "technical problems," which were then presented to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

"The court said, 'This isn't going to cut it. You're going to have to improve the safeguards, given these technical problems.' That's exactly what happened," he said. "So the point is, is that all these safeguards, checks, audits, oversight worked."

"What I recognize is that we're going to have to continue to improve the safeguards and as technology moves forward, that means that we may be able to build technologies that give people more assurance," he added.



Clarification: This post has been updated to clarify that President Obama described the collection of Americans' emails as "inadvertent."

President Barack Obama scolded Republicans for failing to carry out the core responsibilities of Congress, including passing a budget, in an interview with CNN that aired Friday.

Obama compared the legislative process to the series "Schoolhouse Rock," which produced an animated short film that explained how a bill becomes a law on Capitol Hill, to express his frustration with the slow pace of the legislature.

"You remember how the bill gets passed?" he said. "You know, the House and the Senate try to work out their differences. They pass something. They send it to me, and potentially I sign it. We like to make things complicated, but this is actually not that complicated."

Obama also took a shot at Republicans in Congress who advocate a government shutdown as a "last gasp" in the effort to defund the Affordable Care Act, citing lawmakers who had privately told him that they agree with his position but fear primary challenges from the far right. 

"Now what we've got is Republicans talking about the idea that they would shut down the government," he said. "Nobody thinks that's good for the middle class."



Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that "Schoolhouse Rock" was a series that produced a short film about a bill becoming law.