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UPDATED: 09:45, September 29, 2006
U.S. Senate approves controversial detainee bill
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The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved a controversial bill on how to treat detained terror suspects, boosting Republican hopes to enhance their strength in national security issues, ahead of the November elections.

The Senate endorsed the bill by a 65-34 vote after limited debate, following the bill's passage in the U.S. House of Representatives, the previous day.

It was now almost certain that U.S. President George W. Bush would sign it into law before the weekend, since the bill did not differ much with his original plan.

The bill would establish a military court system to prosecute terror suspects, while granting defendants more rights than they had under the U.S. administration's old system.

It also provided extensive definitions of war crimes such as torture, rape and biological experiments, but gave Bush broad authority to decide, which other techniques U.S. interrogators can legally use.

The provisions were intended to protect CIA interrogators from being prosecuted for war crimes.

Human rights groups and many Democrats said the bill gave Bush too much latitude to allow harsh interrogations and deprive detainees of their legal rights.

The passage of the bill spelt the end of a pre-election internal fight within the Republican camp.

For nearly two weeks, the Grand Old Party (GOP) has been embarrassed, as the White House and leading Republican senators debated on the content of the bill.

The two sides reached a compromise last Thursday, and Republicans were regarding the passage of the bill as a booster for their efforts to cast the party to come out strong on national security, a hot issue in the November midterm elections.

Source: Xinhua

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