Anyone Feeling a Draft?

A new e-mail is circulating the net claiming that the Bush administration is quietly attempting to bring back the draft, with an eye towards springing it on the country in Spring 2005, after the elections are over.

In truth, while almost all of the elements in the e-mail are true — there are draft bills before the Legislature, the Selective Service has been overhauling it’s operations — the spin the e-mail gives them is dubious at best.

DATE CAPTURED: 9/22/2004

Subject: MANDATORY DRAFT PLZ READ!!

I know this is long, but READ the WHOLE thing!!! VERY important!!!!

PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THIS AND DO WHAT YOU CAN! OUR YOUNG PEOPLE ARE THE
FUTURE!

Mandatory draft for boys and girls (ages 18-26) starting June 15, 2005, is something that everyone should know about. This literally effects everyone since we all have or know children that will have to go if this bill passes.

There is pending legislation in the house and senate (companion bills: S89 and HR 163) which will time the program’s initiation so the draft can begin as early as spring, 2005, just after the 2004 presidential election. The administration is quietly trying to get these bills passed now, while the public’s attention is on the elections, so our action on this is needed immediately. Details and
links follow.

This plan, among other things, eliminates higher education as a shelter and includes women in the draft. Also, crossing into Canada has already been made very difficult.

Actions:

Please send this on to all the parents and teachers you know, and all the aunts and uncles, grandparents, godparents … And let your children know — it’s their future, and they can be a powerful voice for change!

This legislation is called HR 163 and can be found in detail at this website:

http://thomas.loc.gov/

Just enter in “HR 163” and click search and will
bring up the bill for you to read. It is less than two pages long.

If this bill passes, it will include all men and ALL WOMEN from ages 18 – 26 in a draft for military action. In addition, college will no longer be an option for avoiding the draft and they will be signing an agreement with the Canada which will no longer permit anyone attempting to dodge the draft to stay within its borders. This bill also includes the extension of military service for all those that are currently active. If you go to the selective service web site and read their 2004 FYI Goals you will see that the reasoning for this is to increase the size of the military in case of terrorism. This is a critical piece of legislation, this will effect our undergraduates, our children and our grandchildren.

Please take the time to write your congressman and let them know how you feel about this legislation.

www.house.gov

www.senate.gov

Please also write to your representatives and ask them why they aren’t telling their constituents about these bills and write to newspapers and other media outlets to ask them why they’re not covering this important story.

The draft $28 million has been added to the 2004 selective service system budget to prepare for a military draft that could start as early as June 15, 2005. Selective service must report to Bush on March 31, 2005 that the system, which has lain dormant for decades, is ready for activation.

Please see www.sss.gov/perfplan_fy2004.html to view the Selective Service System annual performance plan, fiscal year 2004.

The pentagon has quietly begun a public campaign to fill all 10,350 draft board positions and 11,070 appeals board slots nationwide. Though this is an unpopular election year topic, military experts and influential members of congress are suggesting that if Rumsfeld’s prediction of a “long, hard slog” in Iraq and Afghanistan (and permanent state of war on terrorism) proves accurate, the U.S.
may have no choice but to draft.

www.hslda.org/legislation/national/2003/s89/default.asp entitled the Universal National service Act of 2003, “to provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons (age 18-26) in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.” These active bills currently sit in the committee on armed services. Dodging the draft will be more difficult than those from the Vietnam era. College and Canada will not be options.

In December, 2001, Canada and the U.S. signed a “smart border declaration,” which could be used to keep would-be draft dodgers in. Signed by Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, John Manley, and U.S. Homeland Security director, Tom Ridge, the declaration involves a 30 point plan which implements, among other things, a “pre-clearance agreement” of people entering and departing each country. Reforms aimed at making the draft more equitable along gender and class lines also eliminates higher education as a shelter. Underclassmen would only be able to postpone service until the end of their current semester. Seniors would have until the end of the academic year.

What to do: Tell your friends, Contact your legislators and ask them to oppose these bills

Just type “congress” into the aol search engine and input your zip code. A list of your reps will pop up with a way to email them directly. We can’t just sit and pretend that by ignoring it, it will go away. We must voice our concerns and create the world we want to live in for our children and grandchildren.

A Tale of Two Bills

Oh boy, where to begin on this? The draft has been a subject of occasional debate — both for and against — for years. In 2003, it took some odd spins with Democrats actually advocating a draft as a way of equalizing the sacrifice among Americans, specifically the rich, by forcing everyone to serve, even if they didn’t serve in the military. They also reason that legislators would be less likely to go to war if their own children were being sent overseas.

This background is important, because it plays into what’s going on with HR 163. There really is a bill with that designator, formally named HR 163 Universal National Service Act of 2003.

It was proposed to the House of Representatives by Charles B. Rangle (D-New York), Jim McDermott (D-Washington), John Conyers Jr. (D-Michigan), John Lewis (D-Georgia), Fortney Pete Stark (D-California), and Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii).

Meanwhile, over in the Senate, we’ve got the bill named “S89”. This one’s formally known as S89 Universal National Service Act of 2003. It was introduced by Ernest Hollings (D-South Carolina).

Now, reading over that list and something should immediately jump out at you — every single sponsor of these bills, in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, was a Democrat. Yet this e-mail opens by saying that it is the Bush administration that is quietly trying to get these bills pushed through the legislature so that the draft can be implemented in Spring 2005, after the elections are completed. Now if that were true, then George W. Bush is a far more brilliant and deft political manipulator than most people give him credit for. He’d have to be to get six Democratic representatives and one Senator to do his nefarious bidding.

So why did Democrats support such a bill? I named a few reasons, but the other is the concept of national service — the idea (very popular in certain circles on the left and the right in America) is that people owe a debt to their country, and should be compelled to serve it. This doesn’t mean they have to do it in the military, but they must put in their some somewhere in the federal government. HR 163 specifically states:

“It is the obligation of every citizen of the United States, and every other person residing in the United States, who is between the ages of 18 and 26 to perform a period of national service as prescribed in this Act unless exempted under the provisions of this Act.

… National service under this Act shall be performed either– (1) as a member of an active or reserveĀ component of the uniformed services; or (2) in a civilian capacity that, as determined by the President, promotes the national defense, including national or community service and homeland security.

It’s basically your high school community service requirement writ large. Democrats may not be down with the idea of forcing people to serve in the military, but they’re cool with forcing people to serve their communities. Personally, I find that idea horrific, but I digress.

So right from the get go, it’s clear that the writer of this e-mail had an axe to grind with the Bush Administration, laying these bills at their feet when they were really the work of politicians across the aisle. This shoddy researching should cast the rest of the e-mail’s interpretations in doubt, or at least raise a few flags for the reader.

Meanwhile, at the Selective Service

After having piqued our interest with the all-too-real draft bills, the e-mail goes on to talk about the Selective Service. It alleges that the Selective Service is gearing up for the draft, and has been given $28 million to accomplish that task, which must be done by March 31, 2005. It also includes a link to the Selective Service’s Annual Performance Plan.

So what’s the deal? Well, the Selective Service basically exists so that if America does every re-instate the draft, it will hit the ground running, rather than have to recreate the draft from scratch. Reading through the document sent a shiver through my spine, but there’s a world of different between being prepared to implement the draft (the purpose of this SSS document) and actually implementing it. The March 31, 2005 date basically the deadline for a progress report from the Selective Service on their ongoing plan. Note that this strategic plan is nothing new — the plan itself began in fiscal year 2001 and runs through 2006, so it predates the introduction of the House and Senate bills by two years.

Further, this strategic plan was required by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993, which President Bill Clinton signed into law. Basically, this was a reform-minded law aimed at getting all of the government’s various agencies to create strategic plans. You can read about it here.

The conspiracy theory continues to crumble. In order to still by into the e-mail’s interpretation of current events, you have to believe that George W. Bush and his Vast Right Wing Conspiracy are so brilliant that they were able to get a Democratic president to pass this law, which sets up the Selective Service to update their procedures, so that by the time Bush is president, everything will be in place for him to bring back the draft. A draft, remember, that was introduced to the Senate and House by … the Democrats.

Draft Boards and Smart Borders

The e-mail further notes that the Pentagon “has quietly begun a public campaign to fill all 10,350 draft board positions and 11,070 appeals board slots nationwide.”

So what’s this based on? Well, apparently in September 2003, the Defense Department posted a notice to one of their Web sites looking for Draft Board volunteers. The page got noticed, media began reporting on it, and then the page was removed. MemoryHole.org has a story on it as well as a copy of the original page. The following sites have stories about this:

so yeah, the Pentagon did start doing this, and my guess is, they’re continuing it (though I found little in the way of confirmation about that). It’s enough to make folks who don’t like the draft uncomfortable, but at the same time, it fits into the SSS’s larger six-year plan, a plan that came about as a result of a Clinton-era bill.

As for the “Smart Borders” declaration, it works pretty much as described. Read a 2002 status report on it here and yes, it does include the “advance passenger information” declaration. I don’t get the impression that anything in it is specifically targeted at tracking draft dodgers, but undoubtedly an increase security focus on the border would make sneaking into Canada more difficult.

Final Analysis

This e-mail has strong together a number of facts, but spun them in such a way as to make the restoration of the draft a nefarious agenda being pursued by a sneaky Republican administration which hopes to spring it on an unsuspecting public after the election.

As I’ve shown here, the truth is more complex. Is a restored draft a possibility? Sure, especially if you have both Democratic and Republican politicians coming together to support it. With the draft apparatus in place, it is not outside the realm of possibility that the Republicans would come back with their own draft proposal, get a compromise from the Democrats for a “community service” clause, and whammo, we’ve got a draft. But then again, both Kerry and Bush have come out against the draft

I think what we’re seeing here is a convergence of several draft-related agendas, and I do think that people who are opposed to the draft should oppose the bills proposed in the Legislature … but they should do so understanding their true source, and not because they think its part of that aforementioned Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

For another debunking of this e-mail, please check out Snope.com’s story “Draft Fear”. Their article spends some time discussing the logistical impossibility of having an operational draft by Spring 2005, and makes for a good read.