Thursday, September 21, 2006

Republicans set to announce terrorism trial deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House and Senate Republicans on Thursday were reviewing a tentative deal on legislation setting out rules for interrogating and trying foreign terrorism suspects, and an announcement was expected shortly.

The White House has proposed legislation for treatment of such suspects but has faced a revolt over the past week from an group of Senate Republicans who put forward an alternative measure they said would provide greater rights to suspects.

"We are close. But there is no deal yet," an aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said.

Frist of Tennessee was meeting with Republican Sens. John Warner of Virginia, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as well as administration officials to review the tentative deal. An announcement was likely within the hour, said Amy Call, Frist's spokeswoman.

"I'm a happy man," Graham said as he entered Frist's office.

Congress is trying to pass a bill to establish trial procedures for foreign terrorism suspects picked up since the September 11 attacks after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Bush's original program.

Warner, McCain and Graham challenged President George W. Bush's plan for trying suspected terrorists, saying it would undermine the Geneva Conventions' protections for war prisoners, and allow abusive interrogations and unfair trials.

They pushed a rival bill that gained greater Senate support and forced the administration to negotiate a compromise.


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