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

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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.
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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.

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