Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She is a graduate of New York University, where 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

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.

President Barack Obama said in an interview that aired Friday that the situation in Syria is "clearly an event of grave concern."

Asked by "New Day" host Chris Cuomo about Syrian anti-government activists' claims that President Bashar al-Assad's regime killed hundreds of citizens in a chemical weapons attack, Obama called the situation "troublesome."

"I can say that unlike some of the evidence that we were trying to get earlier that led to a U.N. investigator going into Syria, what we've seen indicates that this is clearly a big event of grave concern," he said.

Obama defended his administration's abstention from intervening in the Syrian conflict, cautioning that the U.S. must act according to the rule of international law and keep in mind the continuing war in Afghanistan's cost.

"I think it is fair to say that, as difficult as the problem is, this is something that is going to require America's attention and hopefully the entire international community's attention," he added.

Watch the segment below, courtesy of CNN: 

President Barack Obama on Friday is scheduled to hold two events in continuation of his speaking tour that lays out a plan "to make college more affordable, tackle rising costs, and improve value for students and their families," according to the White House.

The president is scheduled to hold a town hall at Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y. at 12:45 p.m. ET. Along with Vice President Joe Biden, Obama is then expected to deliver remarks at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa. at 4:40 p.m. ET.

The widow of slain Mingo County, W. Va. Sheriff Eugene Crum, who replaced her husband as interim sheriff after he was killed in April, resigned the post Wednesday, the Charleston Gazette reported.

Rosie Crum wrote in her resignation letter that assuming her husband's responsibilities had been "quite an undertaking" and that the sheriff's post needed to be filled by "a qualified person" who could dedicate time and attention to the office, according to the newspaper. She made no reference to her husband's shooting in the letter.

Eugene Crum was shot at point-blank range on April 3, allegedly by Tennis Melvin Maynard, 37, whom Crum had coached when Maynard was a high school boxer. It recently emerged that a 2002 accusation of rape against Crum was slated to be used as evidence in Maynard's trial, although it was unclear how the defense would employ that evidence. No charges were ultimately filed against Crum in the case of alleged rape.

After a hearing in the trial on Tuesday, however, a member of Maynard's family told reporters Crum had sexually assaulted Maynard when the alleged shooter was a teenager, according to the Gazette.

The American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday that for the U.S. Army to deny hormone therapy to Chelsea Manning, the convicted private formerly known as Bradley, "raises serious constitutional concerns" and may be in violation of the Eigth Amendment.

The ACLU posted its response to the Army on its website:

In response to Chelsea Manning's disclosure that she is female, has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and will be seeking hormone therapy as a part of her transition during her incarceration, public statements by military officials that the Army does not provide hormone therapy to treat gender dysphoria raise serious constitutional concerns. Gender dysphoria is a serious medical condition in which a person's gender identity does not correspond to his or her assigned sex at birth, and hormone therapy is part of the accepted standards of care for this condition. Without the necessary treatment, gender dysphoria can cause severe psychological distress, including anxiety and suicide. When the government holds individuals in its custody, it must provide them with medically necessary care.


The official policy of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and most state agencies is to provide medically necessary care for the treatment of gender dysphoria, and courts have consistently found that denying such care to prisoners based on blanket exclusions violates the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.


The ACLU stands with Chelsea Manning, and will support Ms. Manning's pursuit of appropriate healthcare and lawful treatment while at Fort Leavenworth.

Embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) will resign as part of a settlement deal reached in the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him, San Diego's KNSD reported Thursday.

Sources confirmed to KNSD that Filner will vacate the office following the CIty Council's closed-door session to review the settlement proposal on Friday. Filner was seen packing boxes into the back of his SUV after the deal was announced, according to the news station.


President Barack Obama on Thursday took a swipe at private college rating systems, singling out the U.S. News & World Report as he announced a new plan for a federal college rating system based on affordability that seeks to eventually tie taxpayer dollars to rankings.

"Right now, private rankings like the U.S. News & World Report puts out each year encourage colleges to game the numbers and rewards them in some cases for costs," Obama told students at the University of Buffalo in New York. "Are they helping students from all kinds of backgrounds succeed?"

President Barack Obama said Thursday in a speech at the University of Buffalo in New York that the country is experiencing "a crisis in terms of college affordability and student debt."

"I've heard from a lot of these young people who are frustrated that they've done everything they're supposed to do, got good grades in high school, applied to college, did well in school," he said. "But now they come out, they've got this crushing debt that's crippling their sense of self-reliance and their dreams. It becomes hard to start a family and buy a home if you're servicing $1,000 of debt every month. It becomes harder to start a business if you are servicing $1,000 worth of debt every month."

"Bottom line is this, we've got a crisis in terms of college affordability and student debt," he added.


Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) released a blistering statement Thursday, stating the U.S. had lost its credibility in the Middle East and failed to take action in Syria despite unconfirmed reports that the Syrian government employed chemical weapons against its citizens.

Read the full statement:

Credible reports coming out of Syria suggest that Assad and his forces have escalated their use of chemical weapons. This most recent massacre of innocent men, women, and children should shock our collective conscience – that is, whatever conscience remains after more than 100,000 Syrians have been slaughtered while the United States has largely remained on the sidelines.


Last week marked the two-year anniversary of President Obama's call for Assad to leave power. It has been a year since the President said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would constitute the crossing of a red line. But, because these threats have not been backed up by any real consequences, they have rung hollow. As a result, the killing goes on, Assad remains in power, and his use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians apparently continues. It is long past time for the United States and our friends and allies to respond to Assad's continuing mass atrocities in Syria with decisive actions, including limited military strikes to degrade Assad's air power and ballistic missile capabilities.


American credibility in the Middle East has never been lower. Red lines on Syria have been threatened with no action taken. Threats to cut off assistance to Egypt have been made and then reneged. Our friends and enemies alike, both in the Middle East and across the world are questioning whether America has the will and the capacity to do what it says. This dangerous development impacts the national security interests of the United States and our closest allies, and if we continue to sit by passively while Assad continues to use chemical weapons against his own people, we only provide encouragement to other brutal governments in their use of harsh measures against their own people. It is time for the United States to come to the assistance of the Syrian people.