Subject: DRAFT REGISTRATION:NO JOKE
DRAFT REGISTRATION IS NO JOKE!
Registration is a tough decision. It's not quick. It's not easy.
And it could cost you your life.
We've chosen not to register for the draft. We wrote this leaflet
to share some of our reasons for not registering, and to give you
some information about draft registration that the government
won't tell you.
Will the Draft Come Back?
The politicians who started registration 10 years ago want the
draft. They will try to use the Persian Gulf crisis as an excuse.
If Congress approves a draft, the Selective Service (SS) claims
it can start drafting people on 10 days notice.
You probably wouldn't be reading this if you believed that "It's
only registration." The reason we "only" have registration, and
not a draft, is that so many of us have resisted registration. We
have made the government afraid to draft us.
Many people who registered have told us they regret it, and wish
they could "un-register." Many of these people will resist the
draft if they are called. But resistance is harder if you've
already registered or gone into the military.
Whether or not there will be a draft depends on whether we
continue to resist registration. As you decide whether or not to
register, you and your friends are helping decide whether Con-
gress will dare to bring back the draft.
What will you do if you register and there is a draft?
Many people think they won't have to go to war because they are
conscientious objectors (COs). A CO is someone who registers,
convinces his draft board that he "opposes war in any form," and
does unarmed military duty or poorly-paid civilian "alternative"
work instead of fighting.
If you're planning to try for CO status, and you want to help
prevent a draft or a war from happening, you might want to think
twice about registering. A conservative think-tank reported that
the SS wants to "accommodate with minimum divisiveness those who
would seek CO status." The government gives COs special status
within the system to keep them busy, quiet, and helpless to
resist a war.
COs have to register first, and then take their chances with a
draft board. Many genuine COs won't get CO status, or will
"conscientiously object" to their alternative service jobs. You
can't "un-register" if your CO claim is denied. But if you don't
register now, you can always change your mind, register late, and
try for CO status if you get an induction notice. Conscientious
Objection is not an easy way to beat the draft.
You should talk to a draft counselor if you have questions about
conscientious objection or resistance. Whatever you do, you won't
be alone. All over the country, people are finding ways to oppose
registration and the draft.
What About the Law?
More than a million people have refused to register. Millions
more have broken the draft laws in other ways (by not reporting
address changes, not giving their Social Security numbers, or
encouraging others to refuse to register).
The government tried to enforce registration and failed. Nobody
has been indicted for refusing to register in over 5 years! The
government couldn't prosecute 1,000,000 people anyway. Instead,
they used a few token trials to try to intimidate us. But in
cities where trials were held, the registration rates went down,
People who are quiet about resistance have been safe. 19 of the
20 nonregistrants who have been indicted since 1980 were outspo-
ken public advocates of resistance. They usually wrote letters to
SS saying they wouldn't register. The 20th man indicted didn't
speak English, didn't know he was supposed to register, and was
indicted by mistake. The government dropped the charges in
Even for those of us who speak out publicly, the risk is small.
Thousands of people publicized their resistance, but only 19 were
Most people do register eventually. But often they register
several years late, when they are too old to be drafted anyway.
People who register are supposed to notify Selective Service
whenever they move, but most people don't. If the SS can't find
you, they can't draft you. In one test, the SS could find fewer
than 1 out of every 4 registrants!
Jobs, Training & Financial Aid
Anyone who wants Federal student grants or loans, job training,
or certain Federal jobs must sign a statement saying that they
registered, or (for men born before 1960 and for women) that they
don't have to register. There are other ways to pay for an
education, but many students find it hard to resist these loyalty
oaths. Some people refuse to sign the statements, whether or not
they registered, while others have simply lied. Only one student
has been prosecuted for falsely claiming he had registered;
several have been forced to pay back their aid money.
Unfortunately, if you don't register and you're not rich, finish-
ing college will probably take you longer. It's up to you to
decide what's more important. Don't forget that students will not
be exempt from the draft!
Warning Letters are Junk Mail
You'll probably get letters from the SS telling you to register,
or saying your name has been sent to the Justice Department for
"investigation and, if appropriate, prosecution." Don't believe
them. These letters look official, but they're only junk mail.
The SS sends millions of these letters to lists of people it gets
from the IRS, drivers' licenses, and business mailing lists
(including members of an ice-cream parlour's birthday club).
If you ignore these letters, the SS will add your name to the
hundreds of thousands of other "possible nonregistrants" that the
Justice Department refuses to prosecute. Nobody on this list has
Everybody who has been indicted was sent at least two certified
letters offering them another "last chance" to register late. The
return receipts they signed for these letters have been used as
evidence against them in court. (The government must prove you
knew you were supposed to register, which isn't as easy as it
Do not sign for any certified letters from the SS, the Department
of Justice, or a U.S. Attorney. See a draft counselor or a lawyer
Even people selected for prosecution have been encouraged to
register late. If they registered before they were actually
indicted, the case was dropped and nothing more happened.
Nothing has happened to over 99% of all nonregistrants.
Think about this before you register: since the start of regis-
tration in 1980, a soldier's chances of being killed in combat
have been many times higher than a nonregistrant's chances of
going to prison. And this is has been "peacetime"!
What Do You Believe?
Deciding whether to register or to resist isn't easy. This may be
the most difficult and important decision you have faced, and
it's not a choice anybody else can make for you. Talk to a draft
counselor, your friends and family, and other people whom you
respect. Get as much information as you can before you decide.
Don't be pressured into making a hasty decision. Remember: you
have until you are 26 to make up your mind whether to register.
It's your life. Don't sign it away.
National Resistance Committee
P.O. Box 42488 San Francisco, CA 94142
The National Resistance Committee was formed in 1980 to oppose
registration and the draft. Our goals are:
- To resist current U.S. preparations for conscription and
war by encouraging those of draft age to refuse registration.
- To sponsor and promote nonviolent demonstrations and civil
disobedience to oppose draft registration.
- To build a grass-roots movement by collecting pledges of
nonregistration, distributing literature, holding public actions,
forming support groups, and working with existing organizations
to resist registration.
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