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U.S. Anti-Torture Bill Clears Hurdle

Senator John McCain (right) with President George W. Bush at a function in mid-2005 (epa) 20 December 2005 -- Draft legislation to ban the torture of detainees has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The proposed ban, contained in defense spending bills, now goes to the U.S. Senate. If it passes there, it would go to President George W. Bush for his signature.

Bush initially opposed the legislation but conceded after pressure from proponents, led by Senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona), a Vietnam War veteran who was tortured at the hands of his captors as a prisoner of war in that conflict.

The proposal follows scandals over the abuse of Iraqi detainees by U.S. soldiers at the Abu Ghurayb prison near Baghdad, findings of detainee abuse in Afghanistan, reports suggesting U.S. intelligence officials have maintained a network of secret prisons outside the country, and criticism of the way terror suspects are held at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo, Cuba.