Friday, 16 February 2018
Public hearings and written comments on draft registration
- Podcast (35 min.): The Future of Draft Registration in the U.S.
- Next open-mike public hearing: Wednesday, 9 May 2018, Boston, MA
- Testimony and reports from hearing in Denver, CO, 19 April 2018
- Schedule of locations and dates of all hearings through September 2018
- Deadline for submisison of written comments extended through 30 September 2018
For the first time in decades, a Federal commission is holding open-mike public hearings throughout the USA (starting next Friday, 23 February 2018, in Harrisburg, PA) and taking written testimony (through 19 April 2018, Patriots' Day) on whether draft registration should be ended or extended to women as well as men; whether there should be a draft of people with medical or other special skills regardless of age or gender; whether a draft would be "feasible" (it wouldn't, because so many people haven't registered with the Selective Service System, have moved without notifying the SSS, and/or would resist if drafted); and related issues.
Despite some problems, this is by far your best and most open opportunity in decades to tell the Federal government to end draft registration. Read more for background on the National Commission on Military, National, and National Service and an update with the schedule of dates and locations of hearings through September 2018.
The Commission wants to know what we think about the draft, draft registration, andr compulsory national "service".
I think the most important thing for the Commission to hear is that people subject to draft registration, and people who would be subject to a draft (including older health care workers and people with other specialized skills who might be subject to an expanded draft) would refuse to go, and that other people would support them in their resistance.
Whether or not the Commission agrees with the reasons people don't and won't comply with registration or a draft, the Commission needs to be brought to realize that a draft is not "feasible" because so many people would not comply, and because noncompliance would render it unenforceable. The Commission to recommend that Congress enact legislation to end draft registration and abolish the Selective Service System.
That's the lesson of the last 38 years of failure of draft registration. We need to teach that lesson to the National Commission on Service.
The Commission needs to hear from men who didn't register for the draft when they were supposed to do so, men who registered but have moved without telling the Selective Service System their new address, men who are registered but would refuse to go if they were drafted, parents who would tear up any induction order that came for their son or daughter (shifting the risk of prosecution from their children to themselves), and women who would refuse to sign up if draft registration is extended to women.
The Commission is also supposed to report on, "the feasibility... of modifying the military selective service process in order to obtain for military, national, and public service individuals with skills (such as medical, dental, and nursing skills, language skills, cyber skills, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills) for which the Nation has a critical need, without regard to age or sex." So the Commission needs to hear from people in all of these occupational categories who would refuse to be drafted.
The inquiring minds of the Commission also want to know what the government could do to encourage "service". Here are some talking points about that:
- "Compulsory service" is, by definition, slavery. If you want to encourage any positive definition of service, it must be voluntary, and completely separate from any system of conscription. You cannot have a system that serves both conscription and positive "service".
- "Military service" is service to the cause of war. If you want to encourage any positive notion of "service", you need to separate it completely from military recruiting or incentives for military enlistment.
- People can best "serve" by making their own choices. "Service" should not be limited to options approved by the government for nonprofit status.
- The greatest limitation on the ability to "serve" is student debt that forces people to seek higher-paying jobs. This is the new form of the "channeling" of young people's choices by the Selective Service System. The best way to enable more people to "serve" is to free them from student and vocational-training debt by recognizing education as a human right and shifting funding for education and job training from loans to grants.
In late 2015, Commander-In-Chief Obama ordered all military assignments opened to women. That order undercut, and probably eliminated, the legal argument that had been used since 1980 to justify requiring only men, but not women, to register for the draft.
That gave members of Congress three options, none of which most of them wanted to take responsibility for, in the run-up to the 2016 elections:
- Do nothing and wait for courts to invalidate the requirement for men to register for the draft;
- Repeal the requirement for men to register, and abolish the Selective Service System (and risk being attacked as peaceniks); or
- Extend the requirement to register for the draft to women as well as men (and risk being attacked by both feminists and sexists).
After elaborate bi-partisan machinations, Congress chose Door Number One ("Do Nothing"). Perhaps members of Congress thought that would allow them to point the finger of "blame" at the courts, and away from themselves, if draft registration was ended. More likely they just wanted to punt this political hot potato past the 2016 elections into the Clinton or Trump Administration.
To provide further political cover for delaying its decision, Congress voted in late 2016 to establish. a National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service "to conduct a review of the military selective service process (commonly referred to as 'the draft')." The Commission is required to solicit and consider public comments, and to report back to the President and Congress with its recommendations by March 2020 (at which time its recommendations can either be ignored, used, or abused to score points in 2020 election campaigns).
Today the Commission published:
- A notice in the Federal Register soliciting written comments (by a Web form or by e-mail to email@example.com, mentioning "Docket No. 05-2018-01" in the subject line of the message) though 19 April 2018; and
- An announcement on the Commission's Web site of a first public hearing, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. next Friday, 23 February 2018, at the Harrisburg Area Community College, Midtown Trade and Technology Center, Midtown 2, Room 206, 1500 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg, PA.
Update: An announcement published in the Federal Register on 20 April 2018 extended the deadline for written comments through 30 September 2018 and announced a new alternate e-mail address than can also be used to submit comments, "firstname.lastname@example.org" (mentioning "Docket No. 05-2018-01" in the subject line of your e-mail message). Comments can also still be submitted to the original .mil e-mail address, or through the Web form.
Pass the word to any of your contacts who might be able to make it to Harrisburg that day, or to any of the other hearings.
It's unclear how the Commission's hearings will be conducted. So far as I can tell from the announcement it appears that at least the first hearing will be a first-come, first-served, open microphone event, although I have no idea how much time each speaker will be allowed.
The law establishing the Commission requires that:
The Commission shall conduct hearings on the recommendations it is taking under consideration. Any such hearing, except a hearing in which classified information is to be considered, shall be open to the public. Any hearing open to the public shall be announced on a Federal website at least 14 days in advance. For all hearings open to the public, the Commission shall release an agenda and a listing of materials relevant to the topics to be discussed.
The Commission's first planned hearing in Harrisburg, PA, on 23 February 2018, was announced on the Commission's Insprire2Serve.gov Web site on February 16th, only seven days in advance. The Commission appears to be in flagrant violation of the statutory requirement for 14 days' notice, and the hearing in Harrisburg, if it is held on February 23rd, will be unlawful. As of a week before the planned hearing, no agenda has been released.
Members of the Commission have said it plans to hold public hearings in each of the nine US Census regions over the next two years.
- Friday, 23 February 2018, Harrisburg, PA
- Thursday, 19 April 2018: Denver, CO
- Wednesday, 9 May 2018: Boston, MA
- Thursday, 10 May 2018: Nashua, NY
- Thursday, 17 May 2018: Jacksonville, FL
- 26-27 June 2018: Iowa City, IA
- 28-29 June 2018: Chicago, IL
- 19-20 July 2018: Waco, TX
- 16-17 August 2018: Memphis, TN
- 19-21 September 2018: Los Angeles, CA
Follow the links from the dates above, and check the Commission's Web site here, for more information on local events as they are organized. If you would like to be listed as a contact in any of these areas for those interested in attending and testifying at one of these hearings, or organizing other related activities, please let me and/or Matt Nicodemus (phone 720-979-9967, email@example.com) know.
The Commision has belatedly established Freedom Of Information Act procedures, and I've made a FOIA request for records of the Commission's past meetings and its schedule of planned future meetings. I'll update this article as soon as I receive a response to my request.Link | Posted by Edward on Friday, 16 February 2018, 20:26 ( 8:26 PM) | TrackBack (0)