US admin ready for compromise on treatment of terror suspects

Published: Monday, September 18, 2006, 12:41 [IST]
 

Washington, Sep 18 (UNI) With the US Supreme Court's recent ruling that terror detainees should be covered by the Geneva Conventions, the White House seems ready for a compromise with the Senate over the treatment of terror suspects.

A panel of the Senate last week rejected President George W Bush's plea, allowing the CIA to use tough methods in interrogating foreign terrorists.

White House National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley defended the administration's tough stand, indicating that it wants to work with those in the Congress who advocate upholding international norms on the treatment of prisoners.

The dispute came to the fore on Thursday when a small group ranking Republicans rejected the administration's view and joined hands with opposition Democrats to push through a Senate panel an alternate legislation, which they think would better protect the rights of foreign terror suspects.

The controversy dominated yesterday's political talk-shows on the television news channels in the United States.

The ''rebellious'' Senators said the United States should apply Geneva Convention standards to detainees, disallowing certain forms of interrogation. They also want the suspects to have the right to see all evidence used against them at trial, even if it is considered classified.

Senator John McCain, who is a former Vietnam prisoner of war, favoured US setting an ethical example for others.

''We should be aware, if we engage in these activities, which are condemned by all, and violate the standards by which we have behaved for the last 50 years, the world will condemn us, and we will lose the high ground,'' Mr McCain said.

Another Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, in one of the talk-shows, bluntly asked, ''what would happen, if an American agent was captured in Iran, put on trial, and never permitted to see the evidence against him?'' Former Secretary of State Colin Powell publicly backed the rebellious lawmakers.

The White House argues that availability of classified evidence to a terror suspect could endanger American lives.

However, Mr Hadley promised steps to ensure a fair trial under the President's proposal.

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