Francis Harris/Washington DCBUSH Will VETO Anti-Torture LawSun Oct 9, 2005 17:2069.145.83.15Bush will veto anti-torture law after Senate revolt
By Francis Harris in Washington
The Bush administration pledged yesterday to veto legislation banning the torture of prisoners by US troops after an overwhelming and almost unprecedented revolt by loyalist congressmen.
The mutiny was the latest setback for an administration facing an increasingly independent and bloody-minded legislature. But it also marked a key moment in Congress's campaign to curtail the huge powers it has granted the White House since 2001 in its war against terrorism.
The late-night Senate vote saw the measure forbidding torture passed by 90 to nine, with most Republicans backing the measure. Most senators said the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal and similar allegations at the Guantanamo Bay prison rendered the result a foregone conclusion.
The administration's extraordinary isolation was underlined when the Senate Republican majority leader, Bill Frist, supported the amendment.
The man behind the legislation, Republican Senator John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner in Vietnam, said the move was backed by American soldiers. His amendment would prohibit the "cruel, inhumane or degrading" treatment of prisoners in the custody of America's defence department.
The vote was one of the largest and best supported congressional revolts during President George W Bush's five years in office and shocked the White House.
"We have put out a Statement of Administration Policy saying that his advisers would recommend that he vetoes it if it contains such language," White House spokesman Scott McClellan warned yesterday.
The administration said Congress was attempting to tie its hands in the war against terrorism.
The veto would be Mr Bush's first use of his most extreme legislative option. But senators pointed out that a presidential veto can be overturned by a two-thirds majority in both houses.
For now the amendment's fate depends on negotiations between the Senate and the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, which is more loyal to the administration.
But senators said they were confident that most of the language would survive and that the issue could pose an extremely awkward dilemma for the president.
The amendment was attached to the $440 billion (£247 billion) defence spending bill and if Mr Bush vetoes the amendment, he would have to veto the entire bill.
That would leave America's armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan short of cash as early as the middle of next month.
- Congress can Override Bush's Veto with 2/3 Majoirty Vote Cheryl Seal, Sun Oct 9 17:36
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