WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney is leading a high-level White House lobbying effort to block legislation offered by Republican senators that would regulate the detention, treatment and trials of detainees held by the American military.
In a private meeting on Capitol Hill on Thursday night, Cheney warned three senior Republican members of the Armed Services Committee that their proposed legislation would interfere with the president's authority and his ability to protect against terrorist attacks.
The legislation, which is still being drafted, includes provisions to bar the military from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross; prohibit cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees; and allow only interrogation techniques authorized in a new Army field manual.
The three Republicans are John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John W. Warner of Virginia, the committee chairman. They have complained that the Pentagon has failed to hold senior defense officials and military officers responsible for the abuses that took place at detention centers in Cuba, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The senators could attach their legislation to the $442 billion Pentagon authorization bill for fiscal 2006, which is to be debated on the Senate floor this week. Senate Democrats have said they will offer a competing amendment to establish an independent commission, modeled after the 9/11 panel, to investigate detainee abuses and operations.