U.S. Senate defies Bush and imposes restrictions on prisoner abuse

A bill sponsored by Senator John McCain seeks to establish humane treatemnt of US prisoners. See CBC for the full report.

“The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to impose restrictions on the treatment of terrorism suspects, delivering a rare wartime rebuke to President George W. Bush.

Defying the White House, senators voted 90-9 to approve an amendment that would prohibit “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” against anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held.

The amendment was added to a $440-billion military spending bill for the budget year that began Oct. 1.

The proposal, sponsored by Senator John McCain, also requires all service members to follow procedures in the Army Field Manual when they detain and interrogate terrorism suspects.

Bush administration officials said the legislation would limit the president’s authority and flexibility in war.

But legislators from each party have said Congress must provide U.S. troops with clear standards for detaining, interrogating and prosecuting terrorism suspects in light of allegations of mistreatment at Guantanamo Bay and the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

“We demanded intelligence without ever clearly telling our troops what was permitted and what was forbidden. And when things went wrong, we blamed them and we punished them,” said McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

“Our troops are not served by ambiguity. They are crying out for clarity and Congress cannot shrink from this duty,” said McCain an Arizona Republican.

The Senate is expected to vote on the overall spending bill by weeks’ end. The U.S. House of Representatives-approved version of it does not include the prisoner provisions. It is unclear how much support the measure has in the Republican-run House.”

As commented by the BBC:

“…the White House views any codifying of rules for interrogation as potentially restrictive and a possible source of legal insecurity for US troops.”