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Rights Group Welcomes Bush Reversal on Torture Ban

Leading human rights groups are praising President Bush for reversing his position on congressional legislation banning torture.

Human Rights Watch said Mr. Bush's support of a ban on torturing anyone in U.S. custody sends "a powerful message of moral clarity." Amnesty International also welcomed the move, but expressed regret that "the legislation was necessary in the first place."

President Bush Thursday agreed with key U.S. lawmakers on legislation to prohibit cruel or inhumane treatment and torture, regardless of where people are held. The issue was highlighted by revelations of abuse by U.S. forces in Iraq and allegations of torture elsewhere.

Vice President Dick Cheney had lobbied hard against the measure, proposed by Republican Senator John McCain, himself a victim of torture during the Vietnam war. President Bush had threatened to veto the measure.

Despite White House efforts, both Republican-controlled houses of Congress approved the amendment, which is part of a defense spending bill, limiting Mr. Bush's veto option.