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Senate Armed Services Committee members John McCain, left, Lindsey Graham, and John Warner reach an accord with the White House over the interrogation of detainees.
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Negotiators for President Bush and resistant Republican senators struck at least the outlines of a deal that would allow terrorism suspects to be questioned and tried.
A week ago, the Senate Armed Services Committee rejected President Bush's call for legislation that would allow the United States to use harsh interrogation methods against detainees suspected of terrorism.
In their findings, committee members John Warner, Lindsey Graham and John McCain cited concerns about the Geneva Conventions and the chance that harsher methods would be applied to Americans taken prisoner overseas.
The senators also balked at the administration's proposal that in a trial, the accused would not be allowed to see all the evidence against them.
Details of the agreement are in short supply, but President Bush says he can live with it.
The announcement of a deal came late Thursday, after a series of meetings between Bush administration officials and key lawmakers. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, who was involved in the discussions, said the new deal is a "framework for compromise."
After the meeting, Sen. McCain said he got what he wanted.
"We're all winners because we've been able to come to agreement through a process of negotiation and consensus," McCain said.
"We still have the House of Representatives to go along with this agreement, but I'm very proud of what we accomplished today and we've all been in it together."
McCain said the integrity and letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions have been preserved.
President Bush, raising money for Republican congressional candidates in Florida on Thursday, also expressed support for the deal.
"I'm pleased to say that this agreement preserves the single most potent tool we have in protecting America and foiling terrorist attacks," the president said. "And that is the CIA program to question the world's most dangerous terrorists and to get their secrets."
But there is a long way to go before the measure lands on the president's desk. One of the biggest hurdles may be getting the agreement through the House of Representatives.
House Armed Services Committee chairman Duncan Hunter, whose panel overwhelmingly approved the president's original more hard-line approach, said he still had some reservations about the Senate agreement.
"Our work in the House is not over yet," Hunter said. "I think we're very close; we're still concerned most strongly with the use of classified information and the utilization of that information to obtain convictions in this new type of war against a new type of enemy."
Hunter said he still wants to keep suspected terrorists from seeing classified evidence during their trials.
He suggested permitting high-ranking military defense attorneys access to such evidence while the detainees themselves were out of the room. Working out the remaining disagreements and loose ends will be made more difficult by time constraints.
President Bush called on Congress to complete its work on the measure before adjourning for re-election campaigning. But that adjournment is only a week away.