Awwx0qho3iowwwzbssvj

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

A trio of notorious anti-Muslim extremists were behind the provocative "Muhammad art exhibit and cartoon contest" where two gunmen opened fire Sunday in Garland, Texas.

The event, which featured Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders as its keynote speaker, was sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), an organization with the stated objective of combating "capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism" amid all levels of government and the mainstream media. The AFDI is led by president Pamela Geller and vice president Robert Spencer, who've been at the forefront of the anti-Islamic fringe for years, and the group has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Anti-Defamation League also noted that Geller and Spencer's secondary anti-Islam group, Stop Islamization of America, seeks to "rouse public fears about a vast Islamic conspiracy to destroy American values."

"After the Charlie Hebdo massacre – and after the violent Muhammad cartoon riots a few years ago – there should have been Cartoon Exhibits all over the free world, to show the jihadists and their stealth allies in groups that are doing all they can to intimidate the West into abandoning the freedom of speech) that we will not kowtow to violent intimidation," Geller wrote in a blog post announcing the event. "But there were no such exhibits. The free world was ready to submit. But we aren’t."

Matt Duss, who tracked Geller and Spencer for years at the Center for American Progress and now serves as the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, told TPM in a phone interview Monday that such antics have made Spencer and Geller somewhat pariahs on the right.

“Even among people here in Washington that promulgate these ridiculous claims about the insidious Muslim menace in America, Spencer and Geller are seen as kind of an embarrassment," Duss said.

But Spencer and Geller have found success with grassroots-level events like the Mohammad cartoon contest, he pointed out.

"In Garland, theres a large Muslim-American community that’s been building an Islamic center," Duss explained. "In Geller and Spencer’s telling, Muslim-Americans simply practicing their faith non-violently is part of this mass plot to eventually take over the institutions of the United States."

Here's what you need to know about Geller, Spencer and Wilders' history of anti-Muslim activism.

Pamela Geller

Read More →

Twenty months after sending what has to be the most infamous email in New Jersey history -- "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" -- a former aide to Gov. Chris Christie (R), Bridget Anne Kelly, is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in U.S. District Court in Newark on conspiracy and fraud charges in the BridgeGate scandal.

Kelly, who served as Christie's deputy chief of staff until he fired her for "lying" to him about her involvement in lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to testify for or hand over any documents to a state legislative panel investigating the bridge affair. She remained silent until Friday, when she came out swinging against the federal charges and her former colleagues.

"I will no longer allow the lies that have been told about me in the George Washington Bridge issue to go unchallenged," Kelly said in a news conference with her attorney that proved she is the character to watch in the ongoing legal drama.

Read More →

About 19 months after unexpected lane closures on the George Washington Bridge snarled traffic for several days in the town of Fort Lee, New Jersey, a U.S. attorney announced charges against former allies of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) for their alleged roles in the so-called "BridgeGate" scandal.

Former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive David Wildstein pleaded guilty to two conspiracy counts and was cooperating with federal prosecutors. Christie's former chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and another of his former Port Authority appointees, Bill Baroni, were each indicted on seven counts of conspiracy and fraud.

Christie has repeatedly denied any involvement in the scandal, and emphasized on Friday that the charges did not directly link him to the closures. Yet the scandal landed hard inside the office of the governor, who has been contemplating a run for President in 2016.

Here's are the most significant things we learned about the scandal on Friday:

Read More →

LiveWire