A Devastating 26-Word Challenge to President Obama's Leadership

More
A single sentence from Senator Ron Wyden sums up the radicalism of the administration's national-security policies.

Ron Wyden full reuters.jpg
Reuters

When Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, stopped by the Senate floor Wednesday to help out Rand Paul with his filibuster, he spoke for several minutes in the guise of asking a question. But his remarks can really be boiled down to one powerful sentence that I've transcribed:

Mr. President, what it comes down to is every American has the right to know when their government believes that it is allowed to kill them.
Ponder the modesty of that claim. He is merely asking that American citizens be given the most basic information about their legal system: when they're lawfully subject to capital punishment.

What would possibly justify withholding it?

The mere fact that multiple U.S. senators, civil-liberties organizations and journalists are having to hound the Obama Administration for answers is a scandal. Promulgating the law is one of the most basic precursors of its legitimacy. Yet the bulk of Congress is as yet content with ignorance.
Jump to comments
Presented by

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In