New US detainees’ bill ‘one of worst ever’

New US detainees’ bill ‘one of worst ever’

WASHINGTON – Some of the best-known terror suspects in US custody are headed toward prosecution after President George W Bush signed a bill intended to put US treatment of detainees in compliance with international law.

Civil libertarians and opposition Democrats decried the new system as a violation of American values. The legislation eliminates some of the rights defendants usually are guaranteed under US law, and it authorises continued harsh interrogations of terror suspects, a provision Bush had said was vital.The White House bill-signing ceremony on Tuesday, coming three weeks before congressional elections, allowed Bush to cast the spotlight on his administration’s tough stance against terrorism, the strongest issue for his Republican Party.With American news dominated by stories of the mounting casualties in Iraq and a series of lobbying and sexual scandals involving Republican lawmakers, the party is in danger of losing control of Congress.They hope voters will see them as stronger defenders of the country.”The Democratic plan would gingerly pamper the terrorists who plan to destroy innocent Americans’ lives,” said Dennis Hastert, Republican leader in the House of Representatives.Among the suspects who could face trial under the law are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, accused of being the mastermind of the September 11 2001, attacks; Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged would-be 9/11 hijacker; and Abu Zubaydah, who was believed to be a link between Osama bin Laden and many al Qaeda cells.The three are imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.The Pentagon expects to begin pre-trial motions early next year and to begin the trials in the summer.The Supreme Court ruled in June that trying detainees in military tribunals violated US and international law, so Bush urged Congress to change the law.He also insisted that the law authorise CIA agents to use tough, yet unspecified, methods to interrogate suspected terrorists.Congress passed the bill after a highly publicised dispute involving major Republicans.The legislation, which sets the rules for court proceedings, applies to those selected by the military for prosecution and leaves mostly unaffected the majority of the 14 000 prisoners in US custody, mostly in Iraq.The legislation says the president can “interpret the meaning and application” of international standards for prisoner treatment, a provision intended to allow him to authorise aggressive interrogation methods that might otherwise be seen as illegal by international courts.The American Civil Liberties Union said the law was “one of the worst civil liberties measures ever enacted in American history.”Democratic Sen.Russ Feingold said..Nampa-APThe legislation eliminates some of the rights defendants usually are guaranteed under US law, and it authorises continued harsh interrogations of terror suspects, a provision Bush had said was vital.The White House bill-signing ceremony on Tuesday, coming three weeks before congressional elections, allowed Bush to cast the spotlight on his administration’s tough stance against terrorism, the strongest issue for his Republican Party.With American news dominated by stories of the mounting casualties in Iraq and a series of lobbying and sexual scandals involving Republican lawmakers, the party is in danger of losing control of Congress.They hope voters will see them as stronger defenders of the country.”The Democratic plan would gingerly pamper the terrorists who plan to destroy innocent Americans’ lives,” said Dennis Hastert, Republican leader in the House of Representatives.Among the suspects who could face trial under the law are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, accused of being the mastermind of the September 11 2001, attacks; Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged would-be 9/11 hijacker; and Abu Zubaydah, who was believed to be a link between Osama bin Laden and many al Qaeda cells.The three are imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.The Pentagon expects to begin pre-trial motions early next year and to begin the trials in the summer.The Supreme Court ruled in June that trying detainees in military tribunals violated US and international law, so Bush urged Congress to change the law.He also insisted that the law authorise CIA agents to use tough, yet unspecified, methods to interrogate suspected terrorists.Congress passed the bill after a highly publicised dispute involving major Republicans.The legislation, which sets the rules for court proceedings, applies to those selected by the military for prosecution and leaves mostly unaffected the majority of the 14 000 prisoners in US custody, mostly in Iraq.The legislation says the president can “interpret the meaning and application” of international standards for prisoner treatment, a provision intended to allow him to authorise aggressive interrogation methods that might otherwise be seen as illegal by international courts.The American Civil Liberties Union said the law was “one of the worst civil liberties measures ever enacted in American history.”Democratic Sen.Russ Feingold said..Nampa-AP

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