One of the techniques, "water-boarding," entails pouring water over victims to make them feel as if they were drowning, a maneuver that often results in a confession within a few seconds.
"The person believes they are being killed, and as such, it really amounts to a mock execution, which is illegal under international law," said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch.
In December 2005, the CIA closed prisons in Poland and Romania because of what was in Human Rights Watch reports. Since then, the locations of the prisons, or "black sites," have been secret and the government has all but denied their existence.
Bush called on Congress to "list the specific recognizable offenses that would be considered crimes under the War Crimes Act so our personnel can know clearly what is prohibited in the handling of terrorist enemies."
He also asked that Congress "make explicit that by following the standards of the Detainee Treatment Act, our personnel fulfill America's obligations under Common Article III of the Geneva Conventions."
Last, he requested that Congress "make it clear that captured terrorists cannot use the Geneva Conventions as grounds to sue our personnel in courts -- in U.S. courts."
The president also criticized the decision of the Supreme Court that hindered previous attempts to prosecute the prisoners. In late June, the Supreme Court decided to block military tribunals for detainees, stating the prisoners were subject to international law and the Geneva Conventions.
"We have a right under the laws of war, and an obligation to the American people, to detain these enemies and stop them," Bush said in his afternoon address.
The Supreme Court decision was a major rebuke to the Bush administration, as it required the president to first seek the approval of Congress before ordering prisoners to be tried for war crimes.
The decision forced the administration to reconsider the legal battle against the prisoners, and made their future uncertain.
Bush urged Congress to make the legislation a top priority in the next session as the issues are "urgent" and "time is of the essence."