Senate Armed Services Committee defies Bush; Passes its own terrorism tribunal bill

Published: Thursday September 14, 2006

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The Senate Armed Services Committee defied President Bush today by passing its own terrorism tribunal bill to protect the rights of terror detainees.

"Four of the 13 Republicans on the panel joined the 11 Democrats to pass their version of the measure, rejecting Bush's proposal to bar defendants from seeing classified evidence prosecutors may want to use in court," reports Bloomberg News.

The four Republicans acted against the White House today only a few hours after the president paid a rare visit to Capitol Hill in order to personally lobby House members to support his plan.

"President Bush visited Capitol Hill Thursday where he conferred behind closed doors with House Republicans on legislation to give the government more power to spy on, imprison and interrogate terrorism suspects," reported the Associated Press earlier today.

Bush told reporters later at the White House that he would "resist any bill that does not enable this program to go forward with legal clarity."

The bill passed by the Senate panel had been drafted by Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsey O. Graham, and Chairman John Warner. Senator Susan M. Collins was the fourth Republican to vote for the bill.

"Voting 15-9, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved the bill they said would provide suspects more legal rights than Bush wanted and resisted his attempt to more narrowly define the Geneva Conventions' standards for humane treatment of prisoners," reports Reuters.

Earlier today, former Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote a letter to Republican Senator John McCain (video link), supporting his opposition to the president's plan which would redefine the legal definitions in Article 3 of the Geneva Convention.

"The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," Powell wrote McCain. "To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk."


John Warner (Virginia) Chairman

John McCain (Arizona) James M. Inhofe (Oklahoma) Pat Roberts (Kansas) Jeff Sessions (Alabama) Susan M. Collins (Maine) John Ensign (Nevada) James M. Talent (Missouri) Saxby Chambliss (Georgia) Lindsey O. Graham (South Carolina) Elizabeth Dole (North Carolina) John Cornyn (Texas) John Thune (South Dakota)


Carl Levin (Michigan) Ranking Member

Edward M. Kennedy (Massachusetts) Robert C. Byrd (West Virginia) Joseph I. Lieberman (Connecticut) Jack Reed (Rhode Island) Daniel K. Akaka (Hawaii) Bill Nelson (Florida) E. Benjamin Nelson (Nebraska) Mark Dayton (Minnesota) Evan Bayh (Indiana) Hillary Rodham Clinton (New York)