Bush presses controversial detainee bill in weekend radio address

[JURIST] President Bush used his weekly radio address [recorded audio; transcript] Saturday to reiterate his call [JURIST report] to members of Congress to pass his proposed legislation [PDF text; White House fact sheet] on military commissions [JURIST news archive] for terror detainees. Bush focused his remarks on provisions that would provide what the White House has described as "clear rules" [JURIST report] for US interrogators, disputing [State Department report] allegations that it is proposing to "reinterpret" or "redefine" Common Article 3 [text] of the Geneva Conventions that gives potentially broad scope to war crimes liability. Bush said:

The information the Central Intelligence Agency has obtained by questioning men like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has helped disrupt terrorist plots, including planned strikes inside the United States and on a U.S. Marine base in East Africa, an American consulate in Pakistan, and Britain's Heathrow Airport. This CIA program has saved American lives, and the lives of people in other countries.

Unfortunately, the recent Supreme Court decision [in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, ruling that Common Article 3 applied to US detainee interrogations] put the future of this program in question, and we need this legislation to save it. There is debate about the specific proposals in this bill, and my Administration will work with Congress to find common ground. I have one test for this legislation: The intelligence community must be able to tell me that the bill Congress sends to my desk will allow this vital program to continue.
Bush's proposal is currently competing for passage with another bill approved [JURIST report] Thursday by the Senate Armed Services Committee [official website] which rejects Bush's bid to narrowly define the Geneva Conventions' standards for humane treatment of prisoners, fearing that it could lead other countries to interpret the Convention to meet their own needs and thus putting US troops at risk for abuse. Reuters has more.


 

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