Frist sees deal on bill to ban torture by US

Sunday, December 11, 2005; 11:10 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress will reach an agreement with the White House on a defense bill that would ban the torture and inhumane treatment of detainees, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said on Sunday.

Frist said on Fox News Sunday that negotiators were discussing the issue of "degrading" suspects.

The amendment, pushed by Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, had passed the Senate with a 90-9 majority, but the White House fiercely opposed it. Vice President Dick Cheney led an unsuccessful bid to exempt the CIA from the torture ban, saying it would hinder the war on terrorism.

"I think there will be clarification of what we mean, how aggressive can one be to get information?" said Frist, who did not specify what would be banned.

"Not torture. What does degrading mean? Do you not want to degrade a terrorist, not hurt them, but degrade them, if they are going to take out your family, if they are going to assassinate you? That's the question that is being worked out," he said.

Frist voted for the amendment pushed by McCain, who was tortured while a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

A congressional aide said on Thursday that Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives had accepted the amendment.

Frist said he expected there would be an agreement.

"An agreement will be reached and we will come to some understanding which will allow us in ways consistent with our values, that is legal, to get the appropriate information to protect us," said the Tennessee Republican.

The White House has argued that putting the anti-torture rules into law would hamper interrogators' ability to obtain information from prisoners by making them less fearful.

Facing broad support in Congress for McCain's amendment in the wake of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and harsh interrogation practices at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, the administration negotiated with the Senate on the final bill.

The measure faces final passage in the House and Senate as Congress scrambles to conclude business this week before breaking for the year.


Informant: John Calvert


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Dezember 2005

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