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White House, Senate Republicans Reach Deal on Detainee Bill


The Bush administration and Senate Republicans have reached a deal on legislation relating to how terrorism suspects are treated and tried by the United States.

President Bush, traveling in Florida, praised the deal - which he said would preserve the Central Intelligence Agency's program to question terror suspects and create military commissions to bring terrorists to justice.

"The agreement will do what the American people expect us to do, to capture terrorists, to detain terrorists, to question terrorists, and then to try them," said President Bush.

A week earlier, the Senate Armed Services Committee had rejected the administration's plan for handling detainees, saying it would undermine the Geneva Conventions - which ensures the humane treatment of suspects, and would allow abusive interrogations and unfair trials. The panel instead approved an alternate plan offered by key Republicans - including the chairman, Senator John Warner and former prisoner of war, Senator John McCain - that would grant terror suspects greater rights.

Concerned about the appearance of their party divided on a key issue in the war on terror just six weeks before congressional elections, the White House and those key Republicans held days of intense negotiations, resulting in Thursday's deal.

Senator McCain expressed satisfaction with the compromise.

"The agreement that we have entered into gives the President the tools he needs to continue the fight in the war on terror, and bring these evil people to justice," said John McCain. "And there is no doubt that the integrity and the letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions have been preserved."

National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley told reporters the deal would put some limits on suspects' access to classified information.

That has been a key issue for House Armed Services Committee chairman Duncan Hunter.

"We are concerned most strongly with the utilization of classified information, and the utilization of that information to obtain convictions in this new type of war against a new type of enemy," said Duncan Hunter.

The agreement is now being reviewed by both houses of Congress, with action expected as early as next week.

The legislation is in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year striking down the military commissions set up by the administration to try terror suspects, saying they did not comply with U.S. law and were inconsistent with the Geneva Conventions.