Only last week, the president drew a line in the sand over his proposed interrogation rules, threatening to cancel the CIA interrogation program altogether if a trio of rebellious Republicans refused to pass his version. In a total reversal, the Bush administration has reestablished talks with the defiant senators, hoping to work out a deal and pass the stalled legislation.
While no details have been divulged, the change in rhetoric was in stark contrast to last week when the two sides began counting votes and turned to the press to plead their case. And it came amid indications that Bush’s plan was in increasing trouble in the both chambers of the GOP-run Congress.
“We share the president’s goal of enacting legislation preserving an effective CIA program to make us safe, upholding Geneva Convention protections for our troops, and passing constitutional muster,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (news, bio, voting record) in a statement Monday.
Graham, R-S.C., helped lead the charge against the administration’s bill, alongside Sens. John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and John McCain, a prisoner of war in the Vietnam War.
The Senate Armed Services Committee last week passed the senators’ proposal by a 15-9 vote, with mostly Democratic support. The president’s measure would go further, allowing classified evidence to be withheld from defendants in terror trials and allowing coerced testimony. Bush also favors a narrower interpretation of the Geneva Conventions that would make it harder to prosecute U.S. interrogators for using harsh techniques.