Senate Democrats Tuesday unveiled proposed legislation to restore some legal rights to suspected terrorists, but distanced themselves from calls to close the detention camp at Guant?namo Bay, Cuba.

Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., filed a bill that would restore the right of detainees to challenge their detention, bar evidence gained through torture and allow detainees to invoke the Geneva Convention.

The filing comes four months after the GOP-led Congress passed and President Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006, described by supporters as a critical weapon against terrorism.

The law denies detainees traditional habeas corpus review in civilian courts and permits the use of evidence obtained through torture.

Civil rights groups have assailed the legislation, and Dodd called its passage ‘one of the saddest days’ of his political life, saying it compromises the country’s ‘moral compass.’

“It has dishonored our nation’s proud history,” said Dodd, who acknowledged that he doesn’t yet have the votes for his bill, particularly among Republicans reluctant to revisit the issue, but plans to make it a top legislative priority.


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