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)

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

In a series of candid video interviews, women talk about self-image, self-judgment, and what it means to love their bodies


Elsewhere on the web

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

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In