Tags: Senate | Leader | sees | Guantanamo | Trial | Bill | Passing

Senate Leader sees Guantanamo Trial Bill Passing

Sunday, 24 September 2006 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate is likely this week to pass a bill that outlines rules for interrogating terrorism suspects and bringing them to trial, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said on Sunday.

"Unless we pass this bill, we cannot have an interrogation program continue that we know has been life-saving that has uncovered terrorist attacks against the United States," Frist told ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

The bill would allow aggressive CIA interrogations of foreign suspects but require compliance with the Geneva Conventions, which ensures humane treatment of war prisoners.

A compromise hammered out between the White House and several Republican senators, the measure has raised concerns among Democrats and some human rights groups over whether it offers significant changes.

"It's better than where we were," California's Rep. Jane Harman (news, bio, voting record), the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said on CNN's "Late Edition."

While other Democrats are still forming positions, some have derided it for what they say is complex language that still allows the CIA to torture suspects while at the same time providing legal immunity for U.S. agents.

First, a Tennessee Republican, said he expects to push the legislation through before lawmakers adjourn later this week to campaign ahead of the November 7 congressional elections. The bill must also pass the U.S. House of Representatives.

He declined to say whether the bill would outlaw various interrogation techniques reportedly now used at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation and prolonged standing.

Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), one of the Republicans who worked for a deal and himself a former prisoner of war, said such measures could be banned under the bill.

"I'm confident that some of the abuses that were reportedly committed in the past will be prohibited in the future," the Arizona Republican told CBS's "Face the Nation."

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, told CNN the bill was "a big improvement" but that he planned to question the role of federal courts at a hearing on Monday.

Frist also said that a sweeping overhaul of immigration laws was not likely to pass before lawmakers adjourn. Instead, the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives were likely to pass smaller reforms with wider support, including cameras and fences along the U.S. border.

"Hopefully, what we'll be voting on the floor of the Senate this week, is take the common parts of the House bill and the common parts of the Senate bill ... that everybody agrees upon, and pass it now," he added.

President Bush has called for legislation that would create a guest worker program, a move that has upset some conservatives.

Frist said such a program was still a possibility, but he hoped to bring the more modest measure to the Senate floor this week. He added Democrats may try to scuttle it.

Most Democrats back a broader, comprehensive approach and have called the Republican efforts politically motivated.

The House last week passed legislation to criminalize unauthorized border tunnels and allow officials to detain certain immigrants longer than six months.

(c) 2006 Reuters. All rights reserved.

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WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate is likely this week to pass a bill that outlines rules for interrogating terrorism suspects and bringing them to trial, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said on Sunday. "Unless we pass this bill, we cannot have an interrogation program...
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2006-00-24
Sunday, 24 September 2006 12:00 AM
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