Bush, Senators Seek Terror Bill Deal

In this photo provided by CBS, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, talks with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley before their separate appearances on CBS's "Face the Nation" in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2006.
AP/CBS Face the Nation, K.Cooper
The White House and maverick Senate Republicans have begun a fresh round of talks over how to handle the nation's most dangerous terrorism suspects, resuscitating GOP hopes for approving a key piece of the president's anti-terror agenda before the November elections.

In a new offer, the White House has conceded changes to its previous proposal, while the Senate Republicans who challenged the administration's plan say they are once again hopeful a deal could be reached.

While no details have been divulged, the change in rhetoric was in stark contrast to last week when the two sides began counting votes and turned to the press to plead their case. And it came amid indications that Mr. Bush's plan was in increasing trouble in the both chambers of the GOP-run Congress.

CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante reports the administration wants explicit assurances in the law that the CIA can continue to effectively question prisoners. On the other hand, the senators want assurances that they can allow interrogation and military trial without making changes in the Geneva convention — for fear that could cause other countries to mistreat American captives.

"We share the president's goal of enacting legislation preserving an effective CIA program to make us safe, upholding Geneva Convention protections for our troops, and passing constitutional muster," said Sen. Lindsey Graham in a statement Monday.

Graham, R-S.C., helped lead the charge against the administration's bill, alongside Sens. John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and John McCain, a prisoner of war in the Vietnam War.

"There's no deal yet, but one of the people who is familiar with all this says 'the doors are open again,' and he now believes there is a 50-50 chance they can reach an agreement, if not in the next few days, before Congress adjourns later this month," CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer reports.

An administration official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity surrounding the negotiations, said the new language only addresses a dispute over the nation's obligations under the Geneva Conventions, which sets the standard for treatment of prisoners taken during hostilities.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, appearing on CBS News' The Early Show said the president wants "treaty compliant means to get the information we need to prevent the next attack."

"We are not redefining article 3 of Geneva," Rice told co-anchor Harry Smith. "The problem is that the language of article 3, common article 3, is very imprecise, very vague. And the professionals, the people who have to go out there and do the interrogation on our behalf want to know that they are within the law."