updated 9/13/2006 7:36:03 PM ET 2006-09-13T23:36:03

Negotiations between the White House and a trio of powerful GOP senators snagged Wednesday over Bush administration demands that Congress reinterpret the nation’s treaty obligations to allow tough CIA interrogations of terrorism suspects.

Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said his panel would meet Thursday to finalize an alternative to President Bush’s plan to prosecute terror suspects and redefine acts that constitute war crimes. Warner said he was aware the White House may come out in opposition of his legislation.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that Bush’s court system established to prosecute terrorism suspects was illegal and violated the Geneva Conventions. Since then, Congress and the administration have been drafting legislation that would authorize Bush to continue with the military commissions.

“The credibility of the United States is very much a factor in this negotiation,” said Warner. The Virginia Republican said another Supreme Court ruling against Bush’s policies in the war on terror would deal a “severe blow.”

At issue primarily is the administration’s suggestion to rule that an existing ban on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment meets the nation’s obligations under the treaty. A section of the Geneva Conventions telling with prisoner treatment, Common Article 3, goes much farther. Officials have said they believe Common Article 3 is too vague.

Graham said CIA Director Michael Hayden told Republican senators this week that the CIA interrogation program would fail unless Congress passed Bush’s plan — an assertion Graham said was “over the line.”

The White House legislation would cause a “ripple effect of monumental proportions” because it would invite other nations to revise their interpretation of the Geneva Convention standards, said Graham, R-S.C.

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