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Bush Urges Congress to Pass His Version of Interrogation Law


President Bush on Friday urged Congress to pass a law creating military tribunals and allowing the use of tough interrogation tactics on suspected terrorists.

Rejecting concerns from members of his own party, Mr. Bush said lawmakers must pass his version of the proposed law or interrogations will end. He said U.S. intelligence agents will refuse to interrogate prisoners if they are not protected by new definitions of actions allowed under the Geneva conventions.

Some Republican senators say the Bush plan does not do enough to protect the rights of suspects and could endanger U.S. troops oversees if other countries choose to interpret the conventions in their own way.

Mr. Bush's proposal would establish military tribunals to try terror suspects and allow classified evidence to be withheld from the defendants. It would also allow coerced testimony to be used as evidence and protect U.S. interrogators from prosecution under the conventions.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has said the plan would undermine the moral basis of the U.S. war against terror. Mr. Bush on Friday said that argument represents "flawed logic."

The White House does not want to be legally bound by the rules created for the humane treatment of prisoners as outlined in the Geneva Conventions, which govern the treatment of prisoners of war. At the same time, the Bush administration says it will follow the principles of the conventions.

The showdown between President Bush and the Republican senators comes ahead of key November elections, with Republicans hoping to keep control of both houses of Congress. Mr. Bush made a personal visit to Republicans in the House of Representatives on Thursday. The House has approved a bill favored by the White House.

Democrats have accused Mr. Bush of focusing on terrorism to divert attention from the war in Iraq, as many Americans are becoming increasingly opposed to U.S. involvement there.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

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