Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at

Articles by Catherine

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) sniped at the Obama administration's gun control agenda Tuesday, asking his Twitter followers if the president would run background checks on the Syrian rebels he recently

Obama authorized sending lethal aid to Syrian rebels last week.

Vice President Joe Biden also drummed up support for gun control legislation at the White House Tuesday afternoon and hinted that members of Congress who opposed background checks would face retribution from the American people who "demanded" the checks.

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The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto argued Tuesday that the discussion about sexual assault in the military has become "a war on men."

Taranto brought up the case of Capt. Matthew Herrera, an Air Force officer accused of sexual assault by a fellow servicewoman, in a column as an example of Congress' "effort to criminalize male sexuality." Capt. Herrera was ultimately not convicted of sexual assault by his commander, Lt. Gen. Susan Helms--but as a consequence, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) put a "permanent hold" on Helms' nomination to serve as vice commander of the Air Force Space Command, a career setback Taranto laments.

Capt. Herrera had testified before Helms that his accuser "flirted" with him, and a lieutenant who was present at the time of the alleged assault agreed. Therefore, Taranto reasons, Herrera's accuser was equally at fault.

"It's fair to say that Capt. Herrera seems to have a tendency toward sexual recklessness," Taranto wrote. "Perhaps that makes him unsuitable to serve as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. But his accusers acted recklessly too. The presumption that reckless men are criminals while reckless women are victims makes a mockery of any notion that the sexes are equal."

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New York state Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R) floated a potential 2014 gubernatorial run on Monday against Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), whom he accused of being a "schoolyard bully" on gun control laws.

McLaughlin told the Albany Times-Union that New York's 4 million gun owners, who live mostly upstate, are his support base. He previously criticized Cuomo's championing of the SAFE Act that put constraints on assault weapons, saying "Hitler would be proud" of the law's passage.

"Could it be viewed as a David vs. Goliath? Yes — but David won," McLaughlin told the newspaper. "I'm not a wallflower."

McLaughlin told the Times-Union that would further capitalize on his upstate appeal by focusing on economic revitalization of the region. He criticized Cuomo's economic proposals that benefit the governor's "cronies," saying "a two-day canoe trip" doesn't cut it with constituents.

McLaughlin's exploration of a challenge to Cuomo was first reported Monday by the New York Post.

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The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Tuesday on behalf of Muslim New Yorkers accusing the NYPD of operating an unconstitutional surveillance program based on religious profiling without proof of criminal suspicion.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, accuses the NYPD of "mapping" both individuals and institutions in Muslim communities, "deploying NYPD officers and informants to infiltrate mosques and monitor the conversations of congregants and religious leaders without any suspicion of wrongdoing," and carrying out "other forms of suspicionless surveillance."

“When a police department turns law-abiding people into suspects because they go to a mosque and not a church or a synagogue, it violates our Constitution’s guarantees of equality and religious freedom,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project, in a statement. “No one questions that the NYPD has a job to do, but spying on innocent New Yorkers because of their religion is a wrong and ineffective way to do it. We are asking the court to end the NYPD’s unconstitutional religious discrimination.”

The lawsuit seeks no damages but asks the court to terminate all future surveillance based on religious profiling without prior suspicion of criminal activity, as well as to compel the NYPD to destroy all information it collected on Muslims in violation of their Fourteenth Amendment rights.

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Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell will announce Tuesday that he's challenging freshman Sen. Mark Begich (D) in 2014, The National Journal reported.

A Democratic source told "The Hotline" that Treadwell called Begich to inform him in advance about the announcement. Begich beat longtime Sen. Ted Stevens (R) in a tight 2008 race.

Treadwell will face Joe Miller, the activist who beat out incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the 2010 GOP primary, in the red state's general election primary.

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NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Monday that Americans would have understood the need for the National Security Agency's secrecy-shrouded surveillance programs if they had been made aware of the data collection.

“I don't think it ever should have been made secret," Kelly said at an event dedicating new harbor patrol boats, as quoted by the New York Daily News. "I think the American public can accept the fact if you tell them that every time you pick up the phone it's going to be recorded and goes to the government."

The police commissioner also called for more transparency about the mechanisms of NSA oversight, adding that such disclosure would ease the public's concerns about the surveillance programs.

"We can raise people's comfort level … that we have these controls and these protections inside the NSA," Kelly said, per the Daily News.

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) will introduce a series of amendments to the Senate immigration reform bill that would position him for a potential Republican presidential primary bid, The Hill reported Tuesday.

Paul's most prominent measure would eliminate a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants while lifting a cap on guest workers, Senate aides familiar with the proposals told The Hill. Under that amendment, to be introduced this week, employers who demonstrate need would be provided with immigrant workers while the workers themselves would have to apply for permanent residency and citizenship according to the policies of their native countries.

In March Paul laid out a plan that would allow immigrants to obtain green cards and eventually become naturalized citizens, but denied that such a plan constituted a "path to citizenship."

The senator is also working on an amendment that would compel states to ensure that registered provisional immigrants do not vote in elections in order to receive federal election funding, according to The Hill.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) expressed concern Monday that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) may be walking away from immigration reform legislation that the two lawmakers spent months hammering out with the support of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" in the Senate.

"How do we put together a bill and then the guy who put it together says that he may not vote for it?" Graham told the Huffington Post. "I just don't get what we're doing here."

Rubio has said that border security provisions in the immigration reform bill are not strong enough and has threatened to vote against the legislation if amendments fortifying border security aren't adopted.

Graham said in an appearance on NBC Sunday that the Republican Party will begin a demographic "death spiral" if it doesn't court the Hispanic community and pass comprehensive immigration reform.

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Yahoo announced Monday that it received between 12,000 and 13,000 data requests from U.S. law enforcement agencies, including criminal requests and requests under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), between December 1, 2012 and May 31, 2013.

The company joined heavyweight tech firms Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple in disclosing partial data request numbers while challenging the federal government to allow it to disclose FISA request figures.

"Like all companies, Yahoo! cannot lawfully break out FISA request numbers at this time because those numbers are classified; however, we strongly urge the federal government to reconsider its stance on this issue," CEO Marissa Mayer and General Counsel Ron Bell wrote in a statement on the company's blog.

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