Army Civil Liberties History
Civil liberties are fundamental rights and freedoms protected by the Constitution of the United States. Most are included in the Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments to the Constitution. These include freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to peaceful assembly, the right to petition the government, the right to bear arms, the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, the right to due process for any deprivation of life, liberty, or property, and other “non-enumerated” rights captured in the Ninth Amendment, such as the right to privacy.
In 2004, Congress passed the “Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act.” While providing increased information sharing among federal agencies, the law called for “an enhanced system of checks and balances to protect the precious liberties that are vital to our way of life.” This law created the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board within the Executive Office of the President.
This law was followed by the “Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007”, known as Public Law 110-53, which designated 8 agencies of the federal government to create a civil liberties program in their respective agencies. One of these was the Department of Defense, charged to appoint a senior civil liberties officer to perform specific functions such as review of department procedures and issuances, establishment of complaint procedures for alleged violations of civil liberties, and quarterly reporting to Congress on civil liberties activities.
In 2012, DoD published an instruction (DODI 1000.29) directing each Component, to include the individual Services, to create a civil liberties program. The program requirements are much the same as those in Public Law 110-53, with the addition of training for the Component Service Members and employees.
The Army has worked to establish a proactive, effective program for Civil Liberties which meets the intent of the law and the requirements of DODI 1000.29. This includes drafting Army policy, developing training mechanisms for senior leadership, managers/supervisors, and the workforce, establishing complaint procedures, and reporting quarterly to the Defense Privacy, Civil Liberties, and Transparency Division (DPCLTD). The program is still in its establishment phase, but the foundation has been set for a comprehensive, Army wide program where awareness is key and there is a positive leadership environment at all levels to promote and protect the civil liberties of all who are touched by the Army mission.