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

A measure to remove decisions in military sexual assault cases from the chain of command was blocked Tuesday night in the Senate, NBC News reported.

Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) aligned himself with military brass when he removed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-NY) measure to place decisions in such cases under the review of an independent prosecutor from the Defense Authorization Act. In its place, Levin inserted a proposal that would have senior officers review decisions when a military commander refuses to prosecute a sexual assault case.

Gillibrand aides told NBC News that Levin's move was "a real setback" but the senator is expected to re-introduce the measure when the bill comes to a vote this summer.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday will travel to Boston, where he will deliver remarks at an event for Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) and the Massachusetts Democratic Party. Obama is scheduled to speak at 1:45 p.m. ET at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took to Twitter Tuesday night to respond to Sen. Bob Menendez's (D-NJ) criticism that the senator suffered from "Obamaphobia."

Menendez challenged the senator's claim that President Obama is the single "biggest obstacle" to immigration reform in an appearance on MSNBC.

"Well, I think he has Obamaphobia," Menendez said of Cruz. "The reality is that it is the Gang of Eight that came together — four Democrats, four Republicans — and said that we need a path to citizenship."

Cruz maintains that a path to citizenship does not constitute "real" immigration reform.


Wisconsin police would be barred from enforcing any new federal gun control measures under a bill circulated by a Republican lawmaker in the state legislature on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

State Rep. Michael Schraa, a National Rifle Association member, circulated an email among colleagues seeking co-sponsors for the bill. Schraa's legislation would forbid any law enforcement officer in the state from enforcing "any federal act, law, rule, regulation or order enacted after Jan. 1, 2013, that bans or restricts semi-automatic weapons, assault weapons or magazines; requires people to register their guns, ammunitions or other firearm accessories; regulates magazine capacities or how much ammunition a person can possess; prohibits types of ammunition; or requires people to turn their weapons into the government," according to the AP.

"I’m not this cowboy, gun-toting legislator," Schraa told the AP. "I just think it’s ultimately important to protect our constitutional rights."

Correction: This post originally incorrectly attributed the information to the Green Bay Press Gazette. The information was published by the Associated Press and picked up by the Green Bay Press Gazette.

A National Security Agency official will be brought to answer publicly before Congress on Wednesday for the first time since details of the agency's phone and Internet surveillance programs leaked last week. 

CBS News reported that Army Gen. Keith Alexander, National Security Agency director and head of U.S. Cyber Command, will testify in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee's scheduled session. 

Alexander had already met with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who chairs the committee, said the committee had asked Alexander to declassify some information pertaining to the NSA surveillance programs so that Congress could better explain their purpose to the public.

"I think they're really helpful," Feinstein said, as quoted by CBS News. "And that's the problem, it's all classified... If we can get that declassified then we can speak much more clearly."

The first lawsuit challenging the National Security Agency's collection of Verizon customers' phone records was filed on Friday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Activist Larry Klayman, the former federal prosecutor who founded Judicial Watch, together with Philadelphia-based couple Charles and Mary Ann Strange filed the suit in federal district court in D.C. The suit, reproduced by the Inquirer, alleges that the agency's phone records collection violates Verizon customer's "reasonable expectation of privacy, free speech and association, right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, and due process rights."

The Stranges are the parents of Navy SEAL Michael Strange, who was killed in 2011 when his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. In the lawsuit, the couple claims their phone records were accessed "since these Plaintiffs have been vocal about their criticism of President Obama as commander-in-chief, his administration, and the U.S. military regarding the circumstances surrounding the shoot down of their son's helicopter in Afghanistan."

As of Monday, the lawsuit has class-action status and claims to represent over 100 million people. The parties seek up to $3 billion in damages, as well as the termination of the surveillance program and public disclosure of its activity.

Edward Snowden's girlfriend was caught by surprise when the ex-CIA contractor leaked classified information about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs, according to friends that spoke with the Washington Post.

“I just talked to her,” one unnamed friend in Hawaii told the Post. “I know she didn’t have any idea.”

Friends confirmed to the Post that the blog "Lsjourney" belonged to dancer Lindsey Mills, 28, and that the boyfriend she referred to on that blog was indeed Edward Snowden. The blog no longer appears to be online.

The Post was unable to reach Mills or her family members for comment.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) told Miami's WFOR Monday that she thought Edward Snowden should be prosecuted for leaking information about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs.

"He should be extradited, arrested, and prosecuted,” she said. “That’s exactly what should happen to him because he violated the law. He violated America’s trust. He jeopardized millions of Americans.”

Wasserman Schultz told reporters that she herself voted against government surveillance programs, on the grounds that they didn't sufficiently protect privacy rights.

A coalition of over 80 organizations and Internet companies on Tuesday sent a letter to Congress calling for a public investigation into recently revealed National Security Agency surveillance programs. The full letter and list of signatories include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla and reddit.

The coalition launched a website to accompany the letter, stopwatching.us, that advocates for congressional disclosure of spying activities. Laura Poitras, the filmmaker who has a byline on the Washington Post story that broke the news of the NSA's PRISM Internet surveillance program, is highlighted on the website as a private signatory.

The full list of coalition members is below:



Advocacy for Principled Action in Government

The AIDS Policy Project, Philadelphia

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression

American Civil Liberties Union

American Civil Liberties Union of California

American Library Association


Association of Research Libraries

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Boing Boing


Calyx Institute


Center for Democracy and Technology

Center for Digital Democracy

Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights

Center for Media and Democracy

Center for Media Justice

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Consumer Action

Consumer Watchdog


CREDO Mobile

Cyber Privacy Project

Daily Kos

Defending Dissent Foundation

Demand Progress

Detroit Digital Justice Coalition

Digital Fourth

Downsize DC


Electronic Frontier Foundation

Entertainment Consumers Association

Fight for the Future


Foundation for Innovation and Internet Freedom

Free Press Action Fund

Free Software Foundation

Freedom of the Press Foundation


Friends of Privacy USA

Get FISA Right

Government Accountability Project

Greenpeace USA

Institute of Popular Education of Southern California

Internet Archive

isen.com, LLC

Knowledge Ecology International

Law Life Culture

Liberty Coalition

May First/People Link

Media Alliance

Media Mobilizing Project, Philadelphia



National Coalition Against Censorship

New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC

Open Technology Institute


Participatory Politics Foundation

Patient Privacy Rights 

People for the American Way

Personal Democracy Media


Privacy and Access Council of Canada

Public Interest Advocacy Centre (Ottawa, Canada)

Public Knowledge

Privacy Activism

Privacy Camp

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

Privacy Times



Rights Working Group

Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association


Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic

Sunlight Foundation

Taxpayers Protection Alliance


TURN-The Utility Reform Network

Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center

William C. Velasquez Institute

World Wide Web Foundation

President Obama on Tuesday took aim at Republican critics of immigration reform who claim border security provisions in the so-called Gang of Eight immigration bill are not strong enough to allow it to pass.

"This bill would be the biggest commitment to border security in our nation's history," he said in a statement at the White House.

"No one is taking border security lightly," he added, touting his administration's record deportations of undocumented immigrants.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is up for re-election in 2014, said earlier Tuesday that the bill, which includes a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, needs "major changes" before it can become law.

"I’ll vote to debate it and for the opportunity to amend it, but in the days ahead there will need to be major changes to this bill if it’s going to become law," he said on the Senate floor. "These include, but are not limited to, the areas of border security, government benefits, and taxes."