Bush Demands Clarification on Detainee Interrogations

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - President George W. Bush made a strong plea on Friday for legislation that will help protect the country from another terrorist attack, which surely is coming, he said.

The president is pressing Congress to pass a bill "clarifying" Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions -- the treaty that establishes international rules for "victims of war," including prisoners.

The Bush administration says parts of Article 3 are "undefined." That especially includes a provision prohibiting "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment" of people who are being interrogated.

"That's very vague. What does that mean?" Bush asked on Friday. "The phrase is susceptible to uncertain and unpredictable interpretation and application," the White House has said.

"I'm asking Congress to pass a clear law with clear guidelines" for questioning captured terrorists, Bush told a news conference on Friday. Information derived from past questioning has disrupted terrorist strikes against the United States, he said.

Bush said he has one test for the legislation. "The intelligence community must be able to tell me that the bill Congress sends to my desk will allow this vital program (detainee interrogations) to continue. That's what I'm going to ask."

President Bush testily rejected any comparison between the "compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists." He said it's "unacceptable" to compare the behavior of the United States and those who kill innocent people to achieve an objective.

"My job -- and the job of people here in Washington, D.C. -- is to protect this country. We didn't ask for this war...But this enemy has struck us and they want to strike us again. And we'll give our folks the tools necessary to protect the country.

"It's a dangerous world. I wish it weren't that way. I wish I could tell the American people, 'Don't worry about it. They're not coming again.' They are coming again," Bush said. "And that's why I've sent this legislation up to Congress."

Bush is very concerned about a move in the Senate to give detainees "rights" that might interfere with efforts to find out what they're up to.

Four Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee -- Sens. John Warner of Virginia, John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Susan Collins of Maine -- joined 11 Democrats Thursday in approving a bill that would go easier on detainees than Bush would.

Bush wants terrorism suspects to be tried in military tribunals, where classified evidence would be withheld from them and coerced testimony would be allowed.

The president also wants protection for U.S. intelligence officials who question detainees.

Bush said sometimes critical information comes only from questioning the enemy -- "cold-blooded killers" who are plotting against the U.S. He said the way things stand now, U.S. intelligence officials won't be able to question suspects under Article 3, for fear of being labeled war criminals.

The Geneva conventions were adopted on Aug. 12, 1949 in Geneva, and they entered into force in Oct. 1950.

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