The US Senate has defied President George W Bush on his anti-terrorism policies by passing a bill to protect the rights of foreign terrorist suspects. The law – approved by 15 votes to 9 – goes against the White House’s proposals to, in effect, redefine the Geneva Conventions to permit harsher treatment of prisoners. Four Republican Senators went against the President to pass the legislation which will see fairer trials for detainees and meet the demands of the US Supreme Court.
Hours before the vote, Bush urged his party to back his plans:
“I will resist any bill that does not enable this programme to go forward with legal clarity. And there is all kinds of letters coming out today by the way of active duty personnel in the Pentagon, the JAG, who supported the programme I have outlined to you. This is an important programme for the security of this country.”
Even former US Secretary of State Colin Powell went against Bush, endorsing efforts to block the plan in a letter to Senators. In passing the bill, the Senate claimed Bush’s proposals would further damage the US image on the treatment of detainees as the world doubts the superpower’s fight against terrorism.