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

Media organizations located the father and stepmother of the man who leaked information about National Security Agency surveillance programs, Edward Snowden, in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley region, according to the Allentown Morning Call.

Lonnie Snowden, 52, and Karen Snowden, 48, of Upper Macungie, Penn., told The Morning Call that they've been fending off media requests including ABC's "Good Morning America."

The Snowdens told the newspaper that a public statement from the couple is forthcoming, although there would not be one Monday.

In an interview with The Guardian, ex-CIA employee Snowden said that his family had no knowledge of his plans to disclose top-secret information and that he feared for their safety going forward.

"The only thing I fear is the harmful effects on my family, who I won't be able to help any more," Snowden told The Guardian. "That's what keeps me up at night."

The Guardian article notes that Snowden was brought up in Elizabeth City, N.C., and that the family later moved near NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Md.

Update: The Morning Call has edited its original story to reflect that FBI agents have visited the Snowden home.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said Monday that President Barack Obama is the single "biggest obstacle to passing common sense immigration reform."

"A path to citizenship is the most divisive aspect of this bill," Cruz told ABC's Jeff Zeleny, "and the White House is insisting on it."

Cruz slammed both the White House and Congress for being soft on border security provisions and for shutting down substantive amendments to the immigration bill that would prevent incentivizing continued illegal immigration.

“The path the White House is going down, I believe, is designed for this bill to fail,” Cruz said. “It is designed for it to sail through the Senate and then crash in the House to let the president go and campaign in 2014 on this issue.”

Cruz has been criticized for going against the grain of the GOP leadership, earning him the nickname "wacko bird" from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

To that criticism, Cruz responded "if standing for liberty, if standing for free market principles and the Constitution makes you a wacko bird, then I am a very proud wacko bird."

The source of the National Security Agency leaks Edward Snowden may not be safe from extradition in Hong Kong, the country's former security secretary told the Guardian Monday.

"I think it would be wisest for him to leave Hong Kong," Regina Ip told the Guardian, "because we do have bilateral agreements with the U.S. and we are duty bound to comply with these agreements. Hong Kong is not a legal vacuum as Mr. Snowden might have thought."

However, Hong Kong university professor Simon Young told that newspaper that now may be the "best moment in time" for Snowden to seek refuge in Hong Kong: in wake of a recent court appeal, the region's asylum laws require the government to independently determine an individual's refugee claim.

Watch Ip's interview below:

A Virginia state delegate confirmed Sunday to the Washington Post that he's been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury investigating Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), indicating publicly for the first time that a federal grand jury will be impanelled in McDonnell's case.

Delegate David Ramadan (R), who told the Post that he was present at the wedding of McDonnell's daughter Cailin, said he will appear before a grand jury in July to provide information relating to McDonnell and McDonnell's wife Maureen. The Post had previously reported that FBI agents were investigating gifts that McDonnell campaign donors provided to the family, including a $15,000 catering bill for the wedding.

An Icelandic lawmaker said Sunday that she's prepared to help whistleblower Edward Snowden seek asylum in that country, Forbes reported.

Member of parliament Birgitta Jonsdottir and Smari McCarthy, executive director of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, professed their support for Snowden in a statement issued Sunday night and published by Forbes. It wouldn't be the first time Jonsdottir has moved to protect a whistleblower -- the Pirate Party legislator has a previous working relationship with Wikileaks.

“Whereas IMMI is based in Iceland, and has worked on protections of privacy, furtherance of government transparency, and the protection of whistleblowers, we feel it is our duty to offer to assist and advise Mr. Snowden to the greatest of our ability,” the statement read. “We are already working on detailing the legal protocols required to apply for asylum, and will over the course of the week be seeking a meeting with the newly appointed interior minister of Iceland, Mrs. Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, to discuss whether an asylum request can be processed in a swift manner, should such an application be made.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) argued Sunday in an appearance on CNN that the Boston Marathon bombings disprove Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) views on terror.

CNN host Candy Crowley asked McCain to respond to Paul's claim that National Security Agency surveillance programs constitute an "assault on the constitution."

"Right," McCain replied. "Just prior to the Boston bombing, he said the battlefield was no longer in America."

McCain referred to a March interview with Fox News in which Paul criticized the President's drone program.

"It's different overseas than it will be here," Paul had told Fox News. "Which gets precisely to the argument I have with some other Republicans who say, 'Well, the battlefield is everywhere, there is no limitation.' President Obama says this. Some members of my party say the battle has no geographic limitations and the laws of war apply. It's important to know that the law of war that they're talking about means no due process."

When Crowley asked McCain if he thought Paul was "naive" about the threat, McCain said that both Republicans and Democrats on the intelligence committee had been "very well briefed" on the NSA programs. "If members of Congress did not know what they were voting on, then I think that's their responsibility a lot more than it is the government's," he said.

Watch McCain's full interview with Candy Crowley here.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said Friday that Attorney General Eric Holder should consider resigning over the Department of Justice's seizure of journalist phone records as part of investigations into leaks of classified information.

"Whenever you feel that you have lost your effectiveness or may be losing your effectiveness to the detriment of the job that you do, you have to evaluate that and make a decision," Manchin said, referencing the attorney general in an interview with Bloomberg Television set to air this weekend. "And I think we're at the time now where decisions have to be made."

Manchin's comment about Holder comes in the wake of revelations that the National Security Agency had been collecting phone call and Internet data records, which the senator said "bothers" him.

“I’m wanting to do everything I can to fight the war on terror,” Manchin told Bloomberg. “There will not be another day in my life, my children or grandchildren’s life they won’t have to be vigilant against terrorists wanting to do us harm. But do you give up everything as an American?”

The Iowa Republican Party announced Friday that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) will be making an appearance this July in the key presidential primary state.

"Senator Ted Cruz embodies bold leadership and Iowa Republicans appreciate leaders who stand up for them and fight big government recklessness," Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker said in a statement. "Ted Cruz is, without a doubt, a leader Iowans will want to meet. As the 'First in the Nation' state, we look forward to introducing Senator Cruz to Iowa Republicans." 

Cruz will headline the Republican party's summer picnic in Des Moines on July 19.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) on Friday criticized President Barack Obama's response to the recently publicized National Security Agency phone and Internet data surveillance programs.

"There are several parts to this that the president glossed over," Merkley told MSNBC after Obama spoke.

The Oregon senator said Obama took the data collection "very lightly." In response to the president's claims that the appropriate Senate Intelligence Committees were briefed on the NSA programs, Merkley said he had to seek out "special permission" to learn about the intelligence initiatives because that information was not freely available. 

Merkley then found the NSA intelligence gathering "so out of sync with the law" that he thought it merited public disclosure.  

"There was a broad vacuum sweeping up data across America," he added.


President Barack Obama took subtle aim at critics of the Affordable Care Act in a speech in San Jose, Calif. Friday, asserting that in states like California that work to correctly roll out the health care program, the law is decreasing premiums and increasing competition between insurance companies.

"In states that are working hard to implement this law properly, it's working for people," Obama said.