Oct. 10, 2005 – The United States Senate overwhelmingly approved a measure setting specific standards for the treatment of detainees in United States military custody last week. Offered by Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), the amendment to a $445 billion defense package officially calls for the nationâ€™s armed forces and intelligence agencies to abide by US Army rules that govern the handling prisoners taken from the battlefield.
Late Wednesday, the Senate approved the McCain amendment 90-9. Lawmakers later approved the defense authorization bill 97-0 despite a threatened White House veto.
Last week, White House officials indicated that President Bush was inclined to issue the first veto of his administration if the authorization bill carried a provision mandating tighter Congressional oversight of military detainee treatment.
The House of Representatives already passed a separate version of the authorization bill, which provides $50 billion for operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in support of the "war on terror," that did not contain provisions calling for uniform treatment of military prisoners. Republican leaders in the lower chamber of Congress have signaled that they will try to remove or weaken the McCain amendment during joint negotiations over the final version of the spending bill.
Continued accounts indicate intelligence agents and military personnel routinely abuse prisoners taken in the "war on terror."
Amnesty International charges that the United States is holding an uncounted number of people away from the eyes of domestic and international groups. In a statement Friday, the humanitarian group called on the Senate to go further in protecting the rights of the detained by convening an independent investigative commission.