Senators challenge White House on terror suspects

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee are defending their approach to handling suspected terrorists in a sweeping defense bill, rejecting White House criticism and the threat of a presidential veto.

Democrat Carl Levin and Republican John McCain wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post on Monday that the provisions would give the executive branch the "clear authority, tools and flexibility" to defend the nation against al-Qaida.

The White House says the bill's limits on the transfer of detainees and the requirement of military custody of suspected terrorists thwart its effort to prosecute the war on terror.

The lawmakers said it would be tragic if the misunderstanding about the provisions scuttled a bill this year. The Senate was resuming consideration of the legislation on Monday.