WASHINGTON – The White House and senators are discussing the implications of a Senate-passed ban on the torture of suspected terrorists in U.S. custody and what part, if any, of the proposal the administration might find acceptable, the Pentagon chief said Sunday.
The Senate's plan would restrict the techniques used to interrogate foreign terrorism suspects and ban "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of anyone in U.S. custody. Those sections have drawn a veto threat from the White House.
"There's a discussion and debate taking place as to what the implications might be and what is supportable and what is not," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said. "But the fact of the matter is the president from the outset has said that he required that there be humane treatment."
The Senate measure also would require U.S. troops to follow interrogation procedures in the Army Field Manual.
The administration says the proposal could tie the president's hands in the fight against on terrorism and that U.S. anti-torture policy is sufficient. Vice President Dick Cheney is seeking to persuade Congress to exempt the CIA from any torture ban.
"We are supporting the White House in what they're doing," Rumsfeld said on "This Week" on ABC. "And we are the ones that have the field manual and have been working that and issuing that as soon as it's appropriate."
Rumsfeld said he was not involved in the negotiations.
Senators and representatives will try to reconcile differences in their versions of the legislation. The House has not dealt with the issue of the detention, interrogation or prosecution of terrorism suspects.
"The history of the United States military is clear. Torture doesn't work," Rumsfeld said. "The military knows that. We want our people treated humanely."