The Bush administration is planning a test run of America's emergency military call-up, stoking speculation about a return to a draft at a time when the White House is considering sending more troops to Iraq.Can you hear that sound? It's the sound a legion of rightwing, PJ-clad, fighting keyboardists make when they involuntarily relieve themselves simultaneously.
...the Selective Service System, the government agency charged with providing troops to the military in an emergency, said it was preparing its first readiness exercise since 1998.
Officials were adamant there were no plans to bring back conscription. Planning for the call-up exercise is to begin in mid-2007, and the exercise is tentatively scheduled to take place in 2009.
But fears about a draft have flared periodically during the Iraq war. On Thursday, they were reignited when Jim Nicholson, the secretary for veteran affairs, said he believed "society would benefit" if the US were to bring back the draft.
In an indication of the sensitivities surrounding the draft, the White House moved to counter the remarks. He withdrew his statement hours later.
Update The New York Times has the official denial.
So adamant was the denial that Mr. Flahavan, a bit beleaguered, had his staff members post an unplanned update Friday morning at the top of Selective Service’s Web site: “No Draft on Horizon!”The Fighting Keyboarders can now clean themselves off, put on fresh PJ's and get back to demanding more war with everyone.
What prompted all this was a Hearst wire service article noting that the Selective Service was making plans for a “mock” draft exercise that would use computerized models to determine how, if necessary, the government would get some 100,000 young adults to report to their local draft boards.
The mock computer exercise, last carried out in 1998, is strictly routine, Selective Service officials said, and it will not actually be run until 2009 — if at all. The exercise has been scheduled several times in the last few years, only to be scuttled each time because of budget and staffing problems, and Mr. Flahavan said he would not be surprised if it was canceled this time around, too.