Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Guess What? They're Reinstating the Draft

Following is the lion's share of an e-mail I received today from a friend:

There is pending legislation in the House and Senate (twin bills: S 89 and HR 163) that will time the program's initiation so the draft can begin at 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. Details and links follow.

$28 million has been added to the 2004 Selective Service System (SSS) budget to prepare for a military draft that could start as early as June 15, 2005. SSS must report to the president on March 31, 2005, that the system, which has lain dormant for decades, is ready for activation.

See to view the SSS Annual Performance Plan for 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 a permanent state of "war on terror"] proves accurate, the U.S. may have no choice but to draft.

Here's an article with more details:

Congress this year brought forward twin bills — S 89 and HR 163, titled the Universal National Service Act of 2003 — "To provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons [ages 18 to 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 remember. College and Canada will not be options. In December 2001, Canada and the United States 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 that 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 eliminate 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.