Compromise hinted in war between White House, GOP Senators

The White House and Senate Republicans who revolted against the president’s proposal on tough CIA interrogations of terrorism suspects said on Sunday a compromise was possible to heal a party rift over treatment of prisoners.

Stephen Hadley, White House national security adviser, said election-year differences between President George W. Bush and senior senators from his own party could be worked out on legislation to allow the CIA to continue the program.

The White House wants Congress to pass a law that would give the CIA a legal foundation for tough questioning methods which it says have protected the country from attack, but which critics say are tantamount to torture.

"In a war on terror there are some things that have to remain secret if they are to be effective, but it is not out of control and we’re not saying trust us," Hadley said on ABC’s "This Week" program. "We’re going to the Congress trying to get clear legal standards."

A Republican-led Senate committee rebelled against Bush on Thursday, passing a bill giving foreign terrorist suspects broader rights that backers say would repair a U.S. image damaged by harsh treatment of detainees.

The rift comes less than two months before November congressional elections in which Republicans, seeking to keep control of Congress, are trying to convince voters that their party can best protect the country.

Hadley said any agreement should continue the CIA program, giving interrogators clear guidance, while meeting Sen. John McCain’s requirement of no change to Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions that bars inhumane treatment of prisoners.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said on CBS that he believed there was a way to "accommodate both interests."

He said his staff would meet with aides for Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner of Virginia, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and McCain of Arizona — senior Republicans who have opposed Bush’s plan.

But details of any compromise remained unclear.


McCain, a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict, also said a compromise was possible and that the United States must hold the "moral high ground" on the issue.

"This has nothing to do with al Qaeda. It has everything to do with America," he said on ABC.

The White House wants to clarify the ban on "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment" stated in Common Article 3.

"I’m saying that nobody knows what humiliating treatment is. What does it mean?" Hadley said on CNN’s "Late Edition."

On CBS’s "Face the Nation," he said: "This is not about torture. This is about a program that is going to be professionally run by people who have been highly trained."

The White House will not comment on techniques, but media reports have said "water boarding," which simulates drowning, and sleep deprivation have been employed by the CIA.

Newsweek magazine, in its September 25 issue, said the CIA has sought to use techniques that include induced hypothermia, long periods of forced standing, sleep deprivation, "belly slap," and sound and light manipulation.

Administration officials have agreed to drop water boarding from a list of approved CIA techniques, Newsweek said. That method was prohibited in the new Army Field Manual.

Some lawmakers, including McCain, say they fear the harsh practices put American soldiers at greater risk of abuse if they are captured in conflicts overseas.

But National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said if McCain’s version of the legislation were enacted, the CIA believed its interrogation program would have to stop.

"I think it’s very, very important that this program go forth. It’s provided valuable information that has saved lives of Americans and significant plots against our homeland have been disrupted as a result," he said on "FOX News Sunday."

Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited


  1. Humiliating treatment is a form of torture if it is used to force a detainee to act contrary to their cultural/religious norms.

    But then, like the good little sophists they are, these terms can be teased to the outer limits of patience and sanity by the neocons.

    This is why impeachment is a better road to confront these insane acts and protect the homeland. In the interest of the United States, the sooner the better. There has to be some payback for thumbing one’s nose at the Supreme Court and Congress. And we need not argue what “impeachment” means. The law has clear legal precedent and case law under America’s Constitution.

  2. Idiotland

    The same old crap. Our toothless congress passes watered down legislation and Bush signs it with signing statements saying he reserves the right to ignore it.

  3. Dwight Liles

    Agreed with the above. This is not a time for compromise. This president doesn’t know the meaning of the word…or if he does, he is more than happy to redefine it in a “signing statement”.

  4. John

    I’ll bet the Rove “work up” team put in a lot of hours this weekend trying to dig up “dirt” on Warner, McCain and the others that oppose the bush amnesty (for himself) plan. Bribery is another possibility as are accusations of (gulp!) anti Semitism. You know, the usual diplomatic tools.

  5. Dale Anderson

    The acid test as to whether an interrogation method is acceptable or not is really pretty simple. Would we accept the same method being used on an American by one of our enemies?

    Any politician who wishes to posture on this issue should be willing to answer that question on each of the methods in question.

  6. the man

    I see another signing statement coming. bush’s deals amount to a great big f*ck you when it comes time to sign the bill.

  7. Dolores

    This is what I wrote to the White House concerning the “CLARIFICATION” of Article 3…I just listened to Stephen Hadley, National Security Advisor to the bush administration on CNN’s Wolf Blitzer ,Late Edition. I would like explain to him what Article 3, section C means. If he can’t understand this or if this president can’t then we are in a sorry state with these type of people “leading” our country.

    To break it down. Cruel: causing pain or suffering, having or showing a sadistic disregard for the pain and suffering of others.
    Humiliating: to make someone feel ashamed and foolish by injuring their dignity and self respect publicly
    Degrading: causing loss of self respect (humiliating)

    If those in power in this White House can not understand that, then no wonder our country is in such a horrible mess with absolutely no leadership by anyone with an understanding of the English language.

    I suggest that the tax payers spend enough money to buy Ã…LL of them a DICTIONARY so that they can look up words, such as cruel, Humiliating and degrading. They are really easy to find, that is if they can figure out how to spell them to look them up.

  8. barbara lochner

    Lay me down, roll me over, and do it again. (Anybody else remember that song from highschool?)

    The question has indeed been answered. McCain will do ANYTHING – ANYTHING it takes to get nominated for president.

    As for the citizens calling him, etc., up and saying..Why are you causing Bush trouble? He’s only trying to protect us.
    Don’t they recognize Rove’s heavy breathing on the other end of the phone?

    I sign everything against this admin and send money to all kinds of causes against this admin…Hopefully others are doing the same. But is anything making a real difference? I want a sign.

  9. Cincigal74

    This is just a smokescreen to cover up the continuing detioration in Iraq and Afghanistan.Warner,Graham,McCain and Powell are complicit in this scam.They will eventially give Bush whatever he wants regardless of what people say.This pattern is clear.It has happened over and over.Why people fall for this is beyond me.If Bush gets mad and shoots someone they(congress)will change the law and make murder legal.