The Guantánamo prosecution of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind behind the deadly USS Cole bombing, highlights an unresolved issue in military commissions: whether the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution applies to bar hearsay statements of unavailable witnesses. While al-Nashiri's counsel recently moved for the military judge to take judicial notice that the Confrontation Clause applies, it is worth considering that the question may be framed differently. Rather than ask whether the Confrontation Clause applies in a military commission, we may ask whether a "testimonial statement" - the only kind of hearsay evidence that triggers the Confrontation Clause-is a concept consistent with wartime tribunals. This Article proposes that a testimonial statement is a uniquely civilian concept, situating military commissions outside the scope of the Confrontation Clause. The military commission trying al-Nashiri nonetheless preserves the constitutional value of reliability while offering different procedural protections than are offered in federal courts, such as admitting hearsay statements from witnesses made unavailable by war.
Christina Frohock, Military Justice as Justice: Fitting Confrontation Clause Jurisprudence into Military Commissions, 48 New Eng. L. Rev. 255 (2014).