Nat Hentoff takes a back seat to no one when it comes to speaking up for civil liberties. So it wasn't a big surprise when the veteran columnist has blasted attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey.
To its great credit, the Tulsa World ran Hentoff's piece as an op-ed this week, a column that nailed Mukasey for his waffling on the question of waterboarding. Mukasey, you may recall, feigned ignorance about the specifics of the practice and refused to call it torture.
Henhoff rejected Mukasey's evasions. He points out, for instance, that the former Judge Advocate General of the Navy John Hutson has no problem calling waterboarding torture. "Waterboarding was devised by in the Spanish Inquisition. Next to the rack and thumbscrews, it's the most iconic example of torture," Huston said.
Hentoff also reviews a host of recent prisoner abuses, all of which sound like a lot like torture and all of which contradict President Bush's statement that the U.S. does not engage in torture. The Senate, Henthoff continues, will be acting irresponsibly if it votes to confirm Mukesey after his statements before the Senate.
We agree. Oklahoma's top Republican lawmakers, Senators Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, ought to rethink their usual rubber-stamp voting behavior. Otherwise, they too will be more deeply implicated in the Bush Administration's on-going but ill-advised and illegal torture policies.
It's high time that Oklahoma Republicans stand up for the rule of law and for recognized standards of human rights.
To read Hentoff's column for yourself, click www.tulsaworld.com