Draft Bill Stirs Controversy - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/09/02 - East Texas

Draft Bill Stirs Controversy

   A bill submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives opened old wounds for Americans this week.

   New York Congressman Charles Rangel (D) proposed legislation to reinstate the military draft for men and women between the ages of 18 and 26. Rangel says unlike the draft of the sixties and seventies, his plan does not discriminate against poor or minority Americans. The congressman launched the bill hoping, if it passed, house members would be weary of war, knowing their children could also be drafted.

   "For those who say the poor fight better, give the rich a chance," Rangel said at a press conference earlier this week. Rangel says unlike the old draft, the privileged could not escape by going to college. But with more minority and lower-income families in college, many find the plan outdated.

   Retired Air Force combat commander Jim Simmons calls the bill too broad and unlikely to pass. He says unless Rangel removes every loophole imaginable, elite Americans will still avoid the military.

   "It's very naive, the retired vet asserted. "When we had the draft in WWII and in Vietnam, the elite still got their sons out of it when they wanted to. They would end up as information officers for the military services or they'd get a national guard job, or a reserve job. They didn't serve in the infantry unless they wanted to."

   "When you're in college you need to continue your education," say TJC student Kerrie Smith. "So I don't think you should be pulled from college."

   "If I got pulled, I'd probably go," said 21-year old Chauncey Walker. "I would have to think of the flip side, I'm doing something to help somebody else out."

   "I think it's a good idea," said student Nathan Abrahams."If this country needs it we should have it, and we should be a part of it."

   Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld released a statement this week, saying the United States is not going to implement a military draft because it's not needed.

   Kerri Panchuk, reporting.

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