Thursday, October 06, 2005

THE SENATE VOTED YESTERDAY by an overwhelming margin to approve John McCain's legislation prohibiting "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" treatment of detainees by military personnel in U.S. custody anywhere in the world.

Amid growing concern at the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan, the Republican-controlled Senate voted 90-9 on Wednesday to back an amendment to prohibit the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" against anyone in US government custody, regardless of where they are held. The proposal would require all service members to follow written, uniform rules when they detain and question terrorism suspects. But the measures will not cover techniques used by the CIA.

The White House has fought hard to prevent the restrictions, which were sponsored by Republican Senator John McCain. A White House spokesman repeated Mr Bush's threat to veto the $440 billion ... military spending bill to which the amendment has been attached. The White House said the measure would "restrict the president's authority to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attack and bring terrorists to justice."

However, Mr Bush has never vetoed a bill, and scrapping a measure that provides money for pay rises, benefits, equipment and weapons for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan would expose him to a flood of criticism.

It is unclear how much support the detainee measures have in the House of Representatives, which has to agree to the amendment for it to pass, although such a powerful Senate mandate could make it hard for house Republicans to resist.

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