President Obama recently noted that “This war, like all wars, must end.” In other words the president is outlining revisions in the legal and moral framework that have guided policies since 2001. Presumably this speech is guided by the president’s belief that we have “turned a corner” in the war with al Qaeda and other terrorist entities. Moreover, the president argued that the 2001 congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force adopted after the 9/11 attack should be revised and eventually repealed to recognize the diminished capability of al Qaeda as a terror organization.
Tasked with helping draft a constitution for India after World War II, B. N. Rau traveled abroad speaking to jurists. In Washington, Supreme Court Justice Frankfurter advised Rau not to include a due process clause in the Indian Constitution. Instead India should have a clause simply requiring that no one be charged with a crime but by the law of the land. That was the meaning of the Magna Carta in 1215 which said:
No freemen shall be taken or imprisoned … or in any way destroyed … except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.