The President's commission on the draft will recommend that student deferments eventually be abolished, the New York Times reported yesterday.
If the Times' correspondent is correct and sources in Washington indicated last night that he is, the commission will propose that draftees be selected at random from a pool of 18 to 20-year olds. According to this account, all men who pass a physical and mental test would be put into the pool. Those not drafted could be sure they would not serve, except in a national emergency.
The details of the commission's position on conscientious objection, national service, the volunteer army, and the autonomy of local draft boards were not available last night. It will be some two weeks. Bradley H. Patterson, executive director of the commission, said last night, before the report is made public.
President Johnson appointed the 20-man commission last summer, when criticism of the draft flooded newspapers and magazines. It was expected to present its report Jan. 1, six months before the current Selective Service Law expires. But several times commission members exercised their right to reopen debate on questions previously settled and the work dragged on. Burke Marshall, former chief of the Civil Rights Division in the Justice Department, chaired the commission.
A Step Forward
Gregory B. Craig '67, president of the Harvard Undergraduate Council, and John W. Rawls, professor of Philosophy, agreed that the demise of II-S was a step in the right direction. Both were surprised by the Times' story In December the HUC passed a resolution calling II-S "unjust." Rawls presented the same resolution to the Faculty in his unsuccessful attempt to put Harvard on record agains student deferments.
Congressman Thomas B. Curtis (R. Mo.), leader of the voluntary army faction in Congress, last night delivered a corrosive attack on the commission's conclusions and procedures. "What is this star chamber business, holding meetings behind closed doors on an issue of such importance?" he asked.
Curtis said that the commission had not given proponents of the volunteer army a chance to present their views. Each time he offered to testify before the panel, he said, he received a perfunctory note acknowledging receipt of his letter and nothing else.
Though the Times' article did not mention the volunteer army proposal, Patterson said the commission had made a "solid decision" on the issue. He declined to say whether the "solid decision" was in favor of the scheme or against it, but all sources indicated the panel had voted down the volunteer army.
Curtis complained that Congress has lost interest in the draft question. Only if the House Armed Services Committee, which will soon hold public hearings on the Selective Service Law, decides to question commission members will there be meaningful debate on the problem, Curtis said.
The Congressman conjectured that the university lobby will attack any selection system which does not protect bright students, Curtis explained. "Back in 1951 Conant (James B. Conant, former President of Harvard) told the military, 'You give us the bright boys, we won't say anything about the draft. Now the military has broken its part of the bargain, and the educators are free to say what they want."
Many parties to the draft debate said last night they were pleased by the decision to ask for the end of II-S. Morris Janowitz, professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago and a leading spokesman for the advocates of national service, said that drafting men before they enter college is "fine, wonderful, beneficial. It breaks up the concern with the meritocracy."
Janowitz acknowledged that the commission's emphasis on random selection would make it impossible to use the army as a giant school for underprivileged children, but he argued that under any conditions the army could hold no more than 25 per cent of the men in need of such training