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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

Former President George W. Bush defended a National Security Agency surveillance program on Sunday, calling the collection of Internet data a necessary tool for homeland security.

"I put that program in place to protect the country," Bush said in an interview with CNN. "One of the certainties was that civil liberties were guaranteed."

Bush, who is in Zambia on a two-country trip to Africa, told CNN that he believes the Obama administration "will deal" with the consequences of former defense contractor Edward Snowden's leaks, refusing to criticize President Obama over allegations of government intrusion into citizens' privacy.

"I think there needs to be a balance, and as the President explained, there is a proper balance," he said.

Correction: This article originally said the interview took place on Monday. In fact, it took place on Sunday.

President Barack Obama said Monday that his thoughts are with the families of 19 firefighters who were killed battling a blaze in Arizona.

"Yesterday, nineteen firefighters were killed in the line of duty while fighting a wildfire outside Yarnell, Arizona," he said in a statement. "They were heroes -- highly-skilled professionals who, like so many across our country do every day, selflessly put themselves in harm's way to protect the lives and property of fellow citizens they would never meet. In recent days, hundreds of firefighters have battled extremely dangerous blazes across Arizona and the Southwest. The federal government is already assisting, and we will remain in close contact with state and local officials to provide the support they need. But today, Michelle and I join all Americans in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of these brave firefighters and all whose lives have been upended by this terrible tragedy."

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said on Saturday during a gathering of Latino public officials that the Republican party does a "lousy" outreach job in their community, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“I’ll be honest here. In the past two years, we’ve done a pretty lousy job of connecting in the Latino community," Priebus said in his remarks at a Chicago event for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, as quoted by the Tribune. "We’ve missed out on opportunities to build better relationships. But that’s going to change."

“I didn’t come here to convert you,” he added. “I hope that it’s clear that we want to earn your trust and your vote.”

Priebus further reiterated his belief in comprehensive immigration reform, and highlighted the work of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on getting an immigration bill to pass the Senate as proof that Republicans are leading on a key issue for Latino voters.

The National Security Agency allegedly bugged offices and spied on European Union computer networks in Washington and at the United Nations, Reuters reported Saturday.

The latest alleged spy program was first reported by German magazine Der Spiegel, which cited a "top secret" September 2010 document that the magazine's journalists said former security contractor Edward Snowden had originally taken with him and had been shown to them in part. That document showed the program gave the NSA access to EU officials' conversations and phone calls, as well as documents and emails.

According to Der Spiegel, the document explicitly called the EU a "target."

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D), who catapulted to national notoriety when she led an 11-hour filibuster of new restrictive abortion legislation, said Saturday that she'll "fight with every fiber" to defeat the bill when it returns to the legislature. 

“I just refuse to say I believe it will happen. I’m an eternal optimist,” Davis said in an interview with ABC's “This Week” airing Sunday. “I believe in the power of democracy and I’m going to fight with every fiber I have to keep it from passing.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) called the Senate back for a special 30-day session beginning Monday to try once again to pass the bill. Davis shot back at the governor, who brought up her personal experience as a teenage mother in a speech he gave at the National Right to Life Convention this week, for trying to advance legislation she sees as hypocritical.

“He’s awfully fond of talking the talk of small government,” Davis told ABC. “But this [anti-abortion legislation] is big government intrusion, there is no question about it.”

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said that U.S. Vice President Joe Biden had contacted him Friday to discuss the Edward Snowden case, according to the Wall Street Journal

Speaking on his regular Saturday television broadcast, Correa said that Biden had asked him to reject a request for asylum in Ecuador from Snowden, who is wanted on espionage charges.

According to the Journal, Correa said that no decision will be made regarding the asylum request unless Snowden is on Ecuadorian territory, and if that happens, he would consider the U.S. government's request.

This post has been updated.

Television programs broadcast on Russia's two largest federal channels and "almost certainly produced under Kremlin orders" have made Edward Snowden into a hero for the Russian people, the New York Times reported Saturday.

The programs, which aired Thursday, compared the source of the National Security Agency leaks to famous dissidents and spies such as Julius and Ethel Rosenburg, according to the Times. One program described Snowden as "a soldier of the information war, who fights, of course, on the side of Russia, or maybe the side of China."

Igor M. Bunin, the director of the Center for Political Technologies in Moscow, told the Times that Russia turning Snowden over to the U.S. government would be "a slap in the face of public opinion because he is already a hero in Russia and part of the West." He added that not turning Snowden in, however, would "destroy" Russia's diplomatic relations with America.

Snowden has remained out of sight in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport since he landed there last Sunday.

President Barack Obama met Saturday with members of former South African President Nelson Mandela's family in Johannesburg, and spoke by phone with Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, who remained at the critically ill leader's bedside in a Pretoria hospital.

"I expressed my hope that Madiba draws peace and comfort from the time that he is spending with loved ones, and also expressed my heartfelt support for the entire family as they work through this difficult time," Obama said in a statement. "I also reaffirmed the profound impact that his legacy has had in building a free South Africa, and in inspiring people around the world - including me."

"Madiba and his family remain in our thoughts and prayers," he added.

A 5-year-old girl was killed and an adult wounded after an assault rifle went off in a Grant's Pass, Ore. apartment late Thursday, according to local media reports. 

The Josephine County District Attorney's office on Friday accused Jon Andrew Meyer Jr., 30, of "recklessly" causing the death of the 5-year-old and causing "serious physical injury" to a 44-year-old woman, according to the Grant's Pass Daily Courier

Police told the Associated Press that Meyer fired an assault rifle from a downstairs room of the apartment, while the victims were upstairs in the same apartment. A neighbor, Pia D'Ambrosio, told the Daily Courier that Meyer told police the gun "fell down and went off."

Meyer will face a grand jury on charges of manslaughter, assault, and unlawful possession of a machine gun, according to the Daily Courier.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Friday that he is a "conservative Republican" governor that will not be the "same kind of leader" for the state that President Barack Obama is for the country, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

Christie, who is seeking reelection this fall, took a hard line on his sometime arcade-game pal Obama, whom he once praised for his leadership during Hurricane Sandy.

“I know when you look at Washington right now, you shake your head at a president who can’t figure out how to lead, at a Congress that only 11 percent of the people in the last poll I saw approve of the job they’re doing,” Christie said at a town hall meeting. "That’s what happens when you have someone in the executive office who is more concerned about being right than he is concerned about getting things done."

Christie further strenghtened his GOP bona fides Thursday when he criticized the Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as a "bad decision."

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