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Legislators tussle over Article 3

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(CNN) -- Politicians, some with GOP ranks, are squabbling with President Bush over whether to change the U.S. interpretation of Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which dictates the treatment for prisoners of war.

Opponents of changing the interpretation -- including Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and President George W. Bush's former Secretary of State Colin Powell -- say diluting the article could endanger U.S. troops captured by the enemy.

Bush insists that parts of the Article are too vague and that Congress should clarify the article to provide U.S. intelligence officials with more concrete rules on how to treat detainees. (Watch Bush urge Congress to clarify the rules -- 3:05)

The full text of Article 3, from the office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights:

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

2. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavor to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.


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GOP Sens. John Warner, left, and John McCain are at odds with the White House.

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