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GOP backs indefinite detention instead of deportation to likely torture

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  • Greg Cannon
    GOP Backs Alternative to Terrorist Deportation Congress Works On 2 Versions of Intelligence Bill
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 8, 2004
      GOP Backs Alternative to Terrorist Deportation
      Congress Works On 2 Versions of Intelligence Bill
      By Helen Dewar
      Washington Post Staff Writer
      Friday, October 8, 2004; Page A33

      House Republican leaders yesterday backed off a
      controversial proposal to allow deportation of foreign
      terrorism suspects to countries that practice torture,
      as lawmakers struggled to complete legislation to
      restructure the nation's intelligence operations.

      Instead of the deportation proposal, GOP aides said
      the leadership was supporting an alternative to allow
      indefinite detention of such suspects in this country,
      without recourse to federal courts, at the discretion
      of the secretary of homeland security. The idea, the
      aides said, was to keep potentially dangerous
      noncitizens who are suspected of having links to
      terrorist groups from returning to American society at
      large just because they could not be deported as a
      result of torture practices in their home countries.

      Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), pictured, and Sen. Daniel
      K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) clashed over McCain's bid to give
      the intelligence panel the power of the purse. In a 74
      to 23 vote, Inouye prevailed on behalf of the
      Appropriations Committee. (Larry Downing -- Reuters)

      Friday's Question:
      Which of the following statements about President Bush
      and Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry is
      NOT true?
      Both served in the military.
      Both have grandfathers who served in the Senate.
      Both went to Yale University.
      Both lost a race for a House seat.

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      The deportation proposal had drawn complaints from
      senior Republicans as well as many Democrats and drew
      a strong objection yesterday from the Bush
      administration, which pledged in a policy statement to
      work with Congress on other ways to deal with terror
      suspects who cannot be deported because of torture

      The Bush administration "remains committed to
      upholding the United States' obligations" under an
      international convention against torture and "does not
      expel, return or extradite individuals to countries
      where the United States believes it is more likely
      than not they will be tortured," the White House said
      in a policy statement.

      The House planned to vote on the detention
      alternative, sponsored by Rep. John N. Hostettler
      (R-Ind.), before completing action on its version of
      the intelligence legislation, probably today.

      The bill on track for passage in the House differs
      significantly from a separate version approved
      overwhelmingly by the Senate on Wednesday, setting the
      stage for potentially difficult negotiations to reach
      a compromise that House and Senate leaders hope to
      enact before the Nov. 2 elections. Both chambers hope
      to recess today for the elections but may return for a
      final vote on the intelligence legislation before the
      elections if a House-Senate agreement is reached by

      Both measures would create a powerful new national
      intelligence director and a counterterrorism center to
      coordinate anti-terrorism efforts. But there are also
      substantial differences, including controversial law
      enforcement and immigration provisions included in the
      House bill but not the Senate version.

      The administration has spoken favorably of key
      elements of both bills, with some reservations, and
      has not indicated a preference. It pledged again
      yesterday to work with the House and Senate
      negotiators to reach a compromise, an involvement that
      some leadership sources have said is essential to
      reaching a pre-election deal.

      The Sept. 11 commission, whose findings gave rise to
      the legislative drive for intelligence reforms, has
      indicated it favors the Senate version.

      As the House debated its version of the intelligence
      bill, the Senate took up rules changes aimed at
      meeting another goal of the 9/11 panel: streamlining
      and strengthening Congress's own intelligence and
      homeland security oversight operations, which the
      commission described as "dysfunctional."

      Key Republican and Democratic senators proposed
      several changes, including beefing up the Select
      Committee on Intelligence, expanding the Governmental
      Affairs Committee to include all homeland security
      operations and creation of an appropriations
      subcommittee to consider all intelligence funding.

      But this was a step back from the commission's
      recommendation that the intelligence panel be given
      authority over spending as well as policy, effectively
      removing intelligence funding from control of the
      Senate Appropriations Committee.

      Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) attempted yesterday --
      without success -- to carry out the commission's
      recommendation and give the intelligence committee
      control over intelligence spending. The Senate
      rejected his proposal, 74 to 23.

      During debate, McCain argued that congressional
      oversight would remain "dysfunctional" unless the
      intelligence committee is given appropriating

      "Power resides in the purse," he said.

      But Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), a senior member
      of the Appropriations Committee, said consolidating
      all power in one committee will not improve oversight
      and cautioned that funding for intelligence is likely
      to be decreased rather than increased if funding
      authority is taken away from the appropriations panel.

      The House has not yet come up with a plan for
      reorganizing its intelligence and security oversight
      operations but plans to do so before Congress convenes
      next year, according to senior GOP aides.
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