Steve Sachs Duke


Friday, November 14, 2003


Selective Quotation, part II: Prof. Brian Leiter of the University of Texas comments on the post below:

As all right-thinking folks know, governments never lie. And when they do, they can count on clever Americans in Oxford to cover their tracks.

Point taken. When I was told about the 20-year terms for draft board members by Selective Service public affairs specialist Dan Amon, I had no guarantee that he was telling the truth. So how good is the evidence that he's lying? Let's look to Lexis, and my own hometown paper:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)
December 3, 2000, Sunday, FIVE STAR LIFT EDITION
LENGTH: 1375 words

BYLINE: William Lamb; Of The Post-Dispatch

The nation's draft boards, including 20 in the St. Louis area, are still on the lookout for recruits more than 25 years after the draft was suspended.

But it's not battle-ready young men they're after these days. It's draft board members - volunteers whose job it would be to weigh deferments for inductees if a crisis were to prompt Congress and the president to resurrect the draft.

Selective Service officers say it can be hard to staff boards that most Americans believe no longer exist. Next year, they will face the added challenge of filling 3,300 or so seats, including about 18 in the St. Louis area.

The vacancies are coming up because of a law limiting board members to 20-year terms. President Jimmy Carter signed the law when he reinstated Sel ective Service registration in 1980 after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. About a third of the nation's 9,900 board members were among the first appointments in 1981.

Area Selective Service administrators say they have been preparing for the wave of retirements and have already started drawing from a network of current board members and local civic groups to find replacements.

Note that this article was published while Clinton was still in office. See also the Rochester (N.Y.) Chronicle and Democrat of July 2, 2001:

After a hiatus in the 1970s, President Jimmy Carter ordered the boards to re-form in 1980 to be prepared in case of war.

Because of a 20-year term limit, turnover is expected to be greatest in the next couple of years. Between 2001 and 2002, 25 percent of the country's 2,300 local board members are expected to retire, said Alyce Teel-Burton, a spokeswoman for the Selective Service System.

In other words, if the government is lying about the 20-year term statistic, they've been doing it for a remarkably long time. Other references to the Selective Service's search for draft board volunteers can be found in the Courier News (Bridgewater, N.J.) (March 2, 2001); the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat (Aug. 6, 2001), the Hartford Courant (Nov. 4, 2002), the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Dec. 10, 2002), the Tulsa World (Feb. 12, 2003), the Bergen County (N.J.) Record (Feb. 16, 2003), etc.

At this point, any claim that the recruitment drive is related to troop needs in Iraq--or anything having to do with the Bush administration, actually--strikes me as woefully implausible. All of these articles should have been easily accessible to a reporter trying to verify the government's claims. So unless Leiter is next going to accuse the government of hacking Lexis, I'm willing to give Amon the benefit of the doubt.

UPDATE: The blog "Federal Review" noted last week that the October 2000 version of the Selective Service's "local boards" page is almost exactly the same as the current version. In fact, there are similar pages from August 2000 and even July 1997, though they lack an online application form.

UPDATE: See further post above.




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