Arthur Miller accuses Bush of abusing and curbing civil rights

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The Independent US

Arthur Miller, America's greatest living playwright, will speak out against the Bush administration for abusing civil rights, in a BBC interview to be broadcast on Christmas Day.

Miller was called before Senator McCarthy's Un-American Activities Committee in the crusade against supposed left-wingers in 1956 and wrote one of his greatest plays, The Crucible, in response to it. He says he now fears the United States is using the war on terrorism to "increase its power over civil rights". Miller's words make him the highest-profile figure in the American arts world to take issue with President Bush's stance.

In the interview with the BBC World Service, he refers to Mr Bush's emergency order that allows non-Americans accused of helping terrorist enemies to be tried outside normal courts by military tribunals. Twenty million immigrants and visitors fall within its scope.

Miller says of the new law: "The government now is taking advantage of it ... and using it as a way of increasing its power over civil rights and so on, by this business of creating military courts for terrorists."

Asked by Ritula Shah, presenter of The World Today, whether he thinks the world has changed since 11 September, he says: "The confrontation of a mass dying is a traumatic experience even for the dullest mind and I think people were drawn together, but I question whether this is a long-term effect." Asked how events have forced American attitudes to change, he says: "I think that more people are prepared now ... to inquire as to why we are so hated in so many places.

"It comes as a big surprise to a lot of people who have always accepted that American foreign policy was beneficent."

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