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US House Passes Controversial Detainee Bill
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Backed by a Republican majority, a controversial bill on the treatment of detained terror suspects finally passed the US House of Representatives Wednesday.

The House endorsed the bill by a 253-168 vote after limited debate, with the Republican majority hoping to send it to US President George W. Bush before the weekend.

The goal is now within reach as senators have agreed to limit debate on a similar bill, which is set to pass Senate on Wednesday or Thursday.

The bill will establish a military court system to prosecute terror suspects and while granting defendants more legal rights than they had under the administration's old system, it eliminates rights usually granted in civilian and military courts.

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

The provisions are 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 to deprive detainees of 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 GOP have 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 are regarding the passage of the bill as a booster for their effort to cast the party as strong on national security, a hot issue in the November midterm elections.

(Xinhua News Agency September 28, 2006)

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