21. THE DRAFT WAS READY TO GO BEFORE THE PUBLIC DEBATE
Although public debate on reviving the draft started in 1980, and was
perceived as a reaction to the international crises in Iran and Afghanistan,
the plans were already well underway.
Detailed specifications for setting up draft boards and resuming classification
and registration operations have secretly existed for about two years.
It was only through a suit filed by the Friends Peace Committee (FPC)
under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that these plans were made
available. And then the mass media failed to alert the public of what
FPC's first request for the documents in July, 1978, was ignored by
the Selective Service System (SSS) on grounds that the records were
The series of major planning documents, finally obtained a year later
in an out-of-court settlement, included a National Registration Plan,
an Emergency Military Manpower Procurement System Manual, and a Mobilization
The Registration Plan would initiate the draft with a one-day mass
registration, followed by an ongoing registration program. Much of it
would be done in schools. In Pennsylvania alone, according to the documents,
SSS has designated 433 public and private schools to serve as compulsory
registration centers. Thomas Conrad, of the FPC, mentions the possibility
of schools being required to turn over class lists to Selective Service
so that compliance with the draft can be verified.
Although the role of local draft boards will be confined to those cases
not handled by computers, SSS knows exactly where every board will be
located. According to the records released, SSS has already secured
the enthusiastic cooperation of members of veterans' organizations to
serve on these boards.
Based on the assumption that "an aggressive, well coordinated
publicity effort is essential to the success of registration,"
SSS is counting on the cooperation of the media to provide publicity
for the draft. SSS plans a nationwide distribution of media kits.
The threat of reinstatement of the draft is much more immediate when
spelled out in specifics and much more likely to arouse opposition.
The attempted cover-up by the Selective Service and the lack of media
coverage after the information was available as a result of the FOIA
request by the Friends Peace Committee qualifies this story for nomination
as one of the "best censored" stories of 1979.
The Progressive, December, 1979, "The Best-Laid Plans," by