Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says he is opposed to President Bush's efforts to redefine rules on the treatment of prisoners of war and the interrogation of terrorism suspects.

Powell voiced concerns about the president's proposed amendment to the Geneva Conventions at a lecture series Tuesday night in the U.S. state of Virginia. The Geneva Conventions require humane treatment for prisoners.

Powell served in the Bush administration from 2000 to 2004. In a rare break with the White House, Powell is siding with a group of Republican senators who say Mr. Bush's bill would subject detainees to abusive interrogations and unfair trials.

The Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee approved a measure last week that would give prisoners more legal rights than the president wants.

Republican lawmakers say certain forms of interrogation should be banned and that suspects should have the right to see all evidence used against them at trial, even if it is considered classified.

Mr. Bush insists the Geneva Conventions must be amended so the Central Intelligence Agency can gather crucial information from detainees.

In a letter to Senator John McCain, Powell said changing the Conventions would add to the world's growing doubt about Washington's moral basis in the fight against terrorism. He also said redefining the rules of prisoner treatment would put U.S. troops at risk.

The senators and the Bush administration continued to exchange proposals on the legislation Tuesday.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.