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

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) shot back Thursday at Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto, who in a June 17 op-ed had accused her of trying to "criminalize male sexuality" through her crusade against sexual assault in the military.

"Mr. Taranto says that I’m involved in a crusade to 'criminalize male sexuality,'" McCaskill said in an article published in the Daily Beast. "For decades, from my time as a courtroom prosecutor and throughout my career in public service, I have indeed done my best to criminalize violence. And I have never subscribed to Mr. Taranto’s bizarre and deeply out of touch understanding of sexual assault as somehow being a two-way street between a victim and an assailant.

"Mr. Taranto’s arguments contribute to an environment that purposely places blame in all the wrong places, and has made the current culture and status quo an obstruction to sorely needed change," she added. "My colleagues and I are fighting not to criminalize men, but to bring the cowards who commit sexual assault to justice."

A longtime Wikileaks volunteer who was close to Julian Assange became a paid informant for the FBI, Wired reported Thursday.

Sigurdur Thordarson, 20, of Iceland told Wired he received $5,000 from the FBI in exchange for sharing Wikileaks chat logs, video, and other data with the U.S. government.

According to Wired, Thordarson approached the U.S. government in August 2011 and was flown internationally for debriefings with the FBI a total of four times. When asked why he came to the FBI, Thoradson said "I guess I cooperated because I didn’t want to participate in having [hacking gangs] Anonymous and Lulzsec hack for Wikileaks, since then you’re definitely breaking quite a lot of laws.”

Wikileaks fired Thordarson in November 2011 when it accused him of embezzling funds through an online T-shirt store in the organization's name. After a final meeting with the FBI in March of the next year, in which Thordarson turned over the eight hard drives worth of data to the agency, he was let go. 

The FBI declined to comment for the Wired article.

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D), who generated buzz this week when she led an epic, nearly 13-hour filibuster of a restrictive proposed abortion bill, said Wednesday that she would consider running for higher office.

"I would be lying if I told you that I hadn't had aspirations to run for a statewide office," Davis told MSNBC's Chris Hayes when asked if she would run for governor.

She added that chances are "pretty good" that the sentiment of Texans towards the abortion bill foreshadows a desire for new leadership. 

Watch the interview below, courtesy of MSNBC:

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Texas held its 500th modern execution Wednesday night since the state reinstated the death penalty over 30 years ago, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Kimberly McCarthy, 52, was executed for the 1997 murder of her neighbor, a 71-year-old college professor, during a robbery.

The milestone puts Texas far ahead of other states that allow capital punishment. Virginia has had 110 modern executions, making it the next highest total to Texas.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) ripped into a witness Wednesday during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, debunking his claim to military disability status over an injury he suffered decades ago, according to the Washington Post.

A congressional investigation found that Braulio Castillo, President and CEO of Strong Castle, Inc., filed a claim for service-disabled veteran status in 2012 entitling him to lucrative business contracts. Castillo cited an ankle injury he sustained while at the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School in 1984.

Duckworth, who lost both her legs while serving in the Iraq War, was angered by Castillo's claim.

"I'm sorry that twisting your ankle in high school has now come back to hurt you in such a painful way, if also opportune for you to gain this status for your business as you were trying to compete for contracts," Duckworth said.

"Shame on you, Mr. Castillo," she added. "Shame on you. You may not have broken any laws … but you certainly broke the trust of this great nation. You broke the trust of veterans."

Watch Duckworth questioning Castillo below:

California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) on Wednesday urged the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the stay on the injunction against Proposition 8 and allow same-sex couples to marry "as quickly as possible."

"I am calling on the Ninth Circuit today to urge them on the strongest terms that they lift the stay and enforce the permanent injunction that [Justice] Vaughn Walker outlined so marriages can begin in California immediately," Harris said in a press conference.

In response to a reporter's question, Harris acknowledged that the appeals court could legally delay lifting the injunction for a waiting period of 25 days, but again urged the court to use its power to lift the stay as soon as possible.

Harris further praised the Supreme Court's dismissal of the case on the grounds that its parties had no standing, arguing that their ruling sent the message that those who wish to challenge gay marriage "cannot do so simply because they don't like the notion."

Earlier in the day, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) issued an order to California county clerks mandating the issue of marriage licenses as soon as the Prop 8 injunction is lifted.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) Wednesday instructed the state Department of Public Health to deliver a notice to county clerks saying that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in California once the injunction on those marriages is lifted by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The order comes directly in the wake of the Supreme Court's dismissal of the Prop 8 appeal.

"The effect of the district court's injunction is that same-sex couples will once again be allowed to marry in California," the notice said. "But they will not be able to marry until the Ninth Circuit issues a further order dissolving a stay of the injunction that has been in place throughout the appeal process."

It could be a month or more before that injunction is lifted and clerks are allowed to issue marriage licenses, according to the notice.  

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) on Wednesday said the Supreme Court's striking of the Defense of Marriage Act violated the "clear will" of the American people.

"Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted," Bachmann said in a statement.

"For thousands of years of recorded human history, no society has defended the legal standard of marriage as anything other than between man and woman. Only since 2000 have we seen a redefinition of this foundational unit of society in various nations.

"Today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to join the trend, despite the clear will of the people’s representatives through DOMA.," she added. "What the Court has done will undermine the best interest of children and the best interests of the United States."

The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer was quick to cast the Supreme Court's ruling Wednesday on the Defense of Marriage Act as against the "laws of nature."

"The DOMA ruling has now made the normalization of polygamy, pedophilia, incest and bestiality inevitable. Matter of time," the conservative radio host tweeted, and he continued to vow to defend marriage as "God has defined it."


Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) called the Supreme Court's ruling on his state's Proposition 8 a "step forward for equality and freedom" -- and went as far as to predict that clerks in California would begin issuing marriage licenses Wednesday.

"I imagine some forward-looking clerks may issue marriage licenses in California today," Takano told MSNBC. "I challenge clerks in California to do so."

Takano told MSNBC that he "sensed a change" in his district and in the state of California, as he was elected as that state's first openly gay member of Congress just four years after Prop 8's passage. He predicted that the celebrations would ripple far beyond both Washington and California. 

"I imagine there will be dancing in the streets tonight in Washington and in cities across the country," he said.