Those are mention-quotes in the title, not scare quotes. That is, I'm hoping to draw attention to the rule of law in the context of the word 'terror'. A nice discussion of the way that any legal presumption of innocence has gone out the window appeared today on Huffington Post
I've been following this case in the mainstream press, reading 5 or 6 articles in the Washington Post, a couple in the NY Times, and 5 or 6 scattered other articles. What all have in common is the background assumption - with no argument whatsoever, but as if it is so obvious that no disagreement can be imagined - that Ahmed Ghailani is guilty of masterminding attacks. The primary evidence for this claim seems to be the testimony - extracted under torture by investigators quite obviously trying to elicit just such testimony - of one "witness" (those are scare-quotes). The judge in the civil trial rightly exclude this testimony and this is taken by all to indicate that while we know that he is guilty, this could not be legally demonstrated due to the loopholes of civil law. The "debate" then turns on whether he should be tried by military courts with no scruples about using "evidence" secured by torture, or simply imprisoned permanently under absurd and criminal interpretations of the law of war.
None of this "debate" requires any consideration of the well-understood and empirically confirmed fact that such coerced testimony is epistemologically worthless. None of it requires any reflection on what civil rights could mean in a context in which a court finding of innocence implies merely that one will be jailed under executive order.
None of it requires even the mention of the word 'police state'.
But as Chomsky pointed out long ago, a loud and acrimonious "debate" among two narrowly different positions, each of which presupposes all the views that matter is a far better way to manipulate public thought than a single government view that simply states those views. The latter naturally leads folks to wonder what others think. The former, leads them to pick one side or the other. So, as Greenberg points out in this case, we shout back and forth between the "progressive" view that these obviously guilty people can all be convicted in civilian court, and the "conservative view" that the courts are so tilted toward the rights of the guilty that some of the obviously guilty people would be let off thereby necessitating imprisonment without trial.
And there we are. the question is what anyone is doing about it.