An army of 4 million American men will begin marching to local post offices next Monday to sign up for the draft, making them eligible to receive "Greetings" from Uncle Sam that could order them off to war.
To register, men born in 1960 and 1961, who were in grade school during the Vietnam war, will tramp to 34,000 post offices around the country between July 21 and Aug. 2, assuming the courts don't intervene.
Selective Service System officials emphasize that registration is merely a time-saving maneuver to expedite the rounding up of future troops, in the event of a national mobilization.
"This is a registration, not a draft," said Joan Lamb, a Selective Service staff member whose agency has a plan to reactivate draft boards if Congress ever passes draft legislation.
Only then could the familiar Western Union telegrams be dispatched, instructing young men to report to draft boards for induction. "In the past, if you registered, you had a good chance of being drafted, but there isn't a draft, now," said Lamb.
"We're just trying to give the president a system to meet Defense Department manpower needs in time of a national emergency. If you're going to have a war, God forbid, you've got to have a way to get people into it."
The controversial peace-time reactivation of draft registration, signed into law by President Carter June 27, is the first time the procedure has been used in over five years.It's a painless, simple process, officials say. b
Potential conscripts are required to print their name, permanent and current address, telephone number, Social Security number and date of birth on green and white government forms and show an ID to verify their identity.
To prepare the potential draftees, Selective Service launched an advertising campaign this past weekend urging those eligible to register "not just because it's the law, but because it's the right thing to do."
The slick radio and TV spots, mailed to the major networks and stations around the country for airing during public service time slots, feature soul singer Lou Rawls, U.S. Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks and actor Ken Michaelman of CBS' "White Shadow" series.
Failure to registure is a felony and could bring a five-year jail term and up to a $10,000 fine.
As a small national draft resistance movement made plans to orchestrate demonstrations here and around the country on registration day, one antidraft group charged Friday that the ads, aired free on stations across the United States, are insulting to blacks and Hispanics and asked the major television networks to reject them.
The Rev. Barry Lynn, chairman of the Committee Against Registration and the Draft (CARD), said the antidraft forces would not rule out filing a "fairness doctrine" complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. CARD has prepared its own series of radio ads, alternate registration messages starring such actors as Lily Tomlin Levar Burton of "Roots", Martin Sheen of "Apocalypose Now" and Henry Gibson of "Nashville."
Lamb, a Selective Service public affairs officer, defended the ads, adding that the accusations were part of a "plot" by antidraft forces to discredit registaration.
"We feel our spots are straightforward, prepared in a variety of formats with a variety of messages," said Assistant Selective Service Director Brayton Harris. "Stations are free to use one, several or all of them."
But Lynn said there was a sharp difference in those ads aimed at white youths and those aimed at black and Hispanic youths, with the former urging registration because "it's the right thing to do," and the letter because it will "keep you out of trouble," as if, Lynn aded, "black and Hispanic youth should be appealed to more by threats than moral arguments."
Indeed, in one ad, a Spanish-speaking father sternly lectures his son to register. "At best they are insensitive, at worst racially stereotyped," said Lynn.
The National Black Caucus sent mailgrams Friday to network presidents asking them to keep the spot aimed at black youths off the nation's airwaves.
As the debate over resuming draft registration shifted from the political arena to the nation's airwaves, antidraft groups and the government awaited two court decisions that could derail egitration or give it the greenn light.
A three-judge federal panel in Philadelphia is expected to rule this week on a 9-year-old sex discrimination case initially brought by hardcore draft resisters over the constitutionality of the all-male draft registration.
David Landau, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who has argued the case, has asked the court to declare registration unconstitutional on sex discrimination grounds. "If we win, the court could stop registration and bounce it back to Congress. There's a risk the court could order the registration of women, but that's unlikely."
Justice Department attorney Bill Elliott has argued the government's case for the all-male draft, saying "the purpose of the Selective Service Act is to conscript troops to deter aggression and win wars. The primary need is for combat troops and women are excluded from combat by law and policy."
A similar case is being argued in U.S. District Court here before Judge Gerhard A. Gesell.
Should the Philadelphia panel issue a decision adverse to the government before the actual start of registration o July 21, Justive Department lawyers plan to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, which is geared up to confront the issue eventually on an emergency basis.
Otherwise, registration would continue on schedule, with the ACLU filing the appeals.
The day registration ends, the post offices will mail the green and white Selective Service System forms to the Internal Revenue Service, which has agreed to help by key-punching them onto computer tape.
Within 60 to 90 days, the count will be in and 'well know if we have a problem or not," said Lamb, who predicts virtually 100 percent of the men will register. "But we don't expect a problem with non-compliance. Even at the height of the Vietnam war, when people were burning their draft cards, they continued to register at a rate of 98-100 percent."
"That's fantasy," scoffs CARD's Lynn, whose Washington-based anti-draft coalition's 400 local chapters plan to hand out 1 million informational pamphiets to registrants over the two-week sign-up period. "Historical evidence shows that the last peace-time registration (from 1973-1975) had about 90 percent compliance. If 10 percent fail to register over those two weeks, you're talking about 400,000 felons created overnight."
Selective Service officials say that those who fail to register will be turned over to the Justice Department for investigation. To find the names of young men who don't sign up, Selective Service plans to compare returns with state driver's license list and high school graduation lists.
In a "worst case scenario," said Lamb, Selective Service would ask Congress to amend the pivacy act to allow it to hunt down draft registration dodgers by using IRS and Social Security records. "Congress made registration the law and we have an obligation to see it enforced," she said.
A Justice Department spokesman said the names would be turned over 94 local U.S. attorneys "to be handled in an appropriate fashion."
CARD has prepared and distributed 100,000 "I Am Registering Under Protest" stickers for registrants to place on their forms. The ACLU has also asked Selective Service for a ruling on whether withholding one's Social Security number from the form is a violation. Landau says he may pn3335866 tiliquid supply line trap inwillem petrus venter epublic of south africa ingabriel johannes greeff epublic of south africa pn3335867 tiscreen filter assembly inrichard l perl asthe tappan co pn3335868 period, printing and distributing 12 million registration forms, a sufficient number to allow for any "goof-ups," said one official.
Operating on a $13.4 million budget from one floor of a modern red brick building in downtown Washington, Selective Service is but a shadow of its former self under the legendary Gen. Lewis B. Hershey, who ruled the mammoth. Vietnam-era bureaucracy like a czar.
During the height of the Vietnam war, Selective Service encompassed 7,000 employes and 50,000 volunteers who ran local draft boards and determined the fate of millions of Vietnamear draftees.
Today, Selective Service has only contingency plans for reestablishing local draft boards, and augments its staff with 715 military reservists and National Guardsmen who fulfill their annual two-week active duty obligation by training with Selective Service for such an eventuality.
Between July 21 and Aug. 2, there are special times when individuals must register. Men born in 1960 should register during the first week. Those born in 1961 should register during the second week.
To avoid long lines at post offices, specific days of the week have been assigned for registering individuals. Men born in January, February or March should register on Monday. Men with birthdays in April, May or June should register on Tuesday. Those born in July, August or September should register on Wednesday. And men with October, November or December birthdays should register on Thursday. Friday (all day) and Saturday morning are make-up times for those who cannot register on the date indicated by their birth dates.
Men who will be out of the country during registration should fill out the forms at the nearest American embassy or consulate.
Approximately 90 days after registering, each registrant will be mailed an acknowledgment letter that details the information entered in government computers. That's the only document the individual will receive confiring registration. No draft cards will be issued.
The only persons not required to register are women, members of the active armed forces, cadets or midshipmen at the service academics, and non-immigrant aliens (for example, members of diplomatic or trade missions and those on student or visitors visas). Military reservists or members or the National Guard are required to register, if they were born in 1960 or 1961.
Handicapped or disabled individuals, who would most likely not be drafted, are also required to sign up. Those confined to institutions must register upon release from confinement.
If individuals as sick, or encounter a hardship that makes them unable to register on the appointed date, they can register as soon as they are able and avoid any penalty. Registration materials will be available at the post offices continuously.
Conscientious objectors are also required to register, though they may state their feelings by writing "CO" on their form. Nonetheless, say officials, such a notation has no bearing on any decision a draft board might make regarding their military service, since local draft boards are not on active status. If boards are ever reconvened, registered individuals will be given a chance to apply for special classifications.
In the event of a draft, only ministers of religion would receive an automatic exemption. In an effort to correct the draft inequities of the Vietnam era, which tended to protect the more affluent at the expense of the poor, President Carter persuaded Congress to rule out automatic student, occupational or family deferments.
Any draft would be based on a random lottery system that would take 20-year-olds first.
The draft pool will increase as additional 18-year-olds begin to register next year. About 2 million men reach age 18 each year. Registering men born in 1960 and 1961 will provide a manpower pool of 4 million names. If it should become necessary to increase the size of the pool, men born before 1960, but who have not reached age 26, could be required to register.By 1989, when all men between 18 and 26 are registered, there will be a pool of about 16 million men who could be subject to a draft in an emergency.
Registrants are required to notify Selective Service if they change their address. Forms are available at all post offices.