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Senate Challenges Detainees' Rights

November 11, 2005|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Thursday to bar foreign terrorist suspects at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from challenging their detentions in American courts, despite a Supreme Court ruling last year that granted access.

In a 49-42 vote, senators added the provision by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to a sweeping defense policy bill.

"For 200 years, ladies and gentlemen, in the law of armed conflict, no nation has given an enemy combatant, a terrorist, an Al Qaeda member the ability to go into every federal court in this United States and sue the people that are fighting the war for us," Graham told his colleagues.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said the provision was a major mistake and deserved scrutiny. "It's contrary to the way the court decisions have come down already. It is an extraordinary step for this Congress to be taking," he said.

Democrats said they might try to kill or change the provision before the Senate votes on the overall bill next week. Five Democrats joined 44 Republicans in voting for the provision.

In a separate war matter, the Senate voted 82-9 to require that Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte provide the Senate and House intelligence committees with details of any clandestine facilities where the U.S. holds or has held terrorism suspects. That move was in reaction to a Washington Post article that said the CIA has had secret prisons for terrorism suspects in eight countries, including some in Eastern Europe.

The Senate hopes to complete work next week on the overall bill. It already includes provisions barring abusive treatment of foreign prisoners and standardizing interrogation techniques.

The White House has threatened to veto any bill with the restrictions on handling detainees, saying it would limit the ability to protect Americans and prevent a terrorist attack.

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