Thursday, September 14, 2006

Senate Armed Services Committee Strikes Down Bush

Bush faces Senate rebellion on tribunals

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Senate committee rebelled against President George W. Bush on Thursday, passing a bill it said would protect the rights of foreign terrorism suspects and repair a U.S. image damaged by harsh treatment of detainees.

Hours after Bush went to Capitol Hill to urge fellow Republicans to back his proposals for putting terrorism suspects on trial, a divided Senate Armed Services Committee approved its own bill which it said would meet demands of the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down Bush's original plan.

The committee also resisted Bush's bid to more narrowly define the Geneva Conventions' standards for humane treatment of prisoners, which Bush said was essential to enable the CIA to elicit valuable information from detainees.

Bush has been under fire for indefinite detentions and harsh treatment of foreign suspects at Guantanamo Bay as well as abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Human rights groups say mistreatment of prisoners has damaged U.S. moral standing.

Some lawmakers say they fear the practices put American soldiers at greater risk of harm or abuse if they are captured in conflicts overseas.

The bill -- pushed by chairman John Warner of Virginia and fellow Republican heavyweights John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina -- cleared the committee 15-9 with support from Democrats and Maine Republican Susan Collins.

The committee bill would require that defendants have access to classified evidence used against them, limit the use of hearsay evidence and restrict the use of evidence obtained by coercion.