Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Abercrombie votes
no on bill that he
backed as co-sponsor

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie voted against the bill to re-instate the draft even though he is one of the original co-sponsors of the bill.

"I oppose the draft and do not want to see it brought back," Abercrombie said in a floor speech yesterday. "I added my name to this bill in order to promote an open, honest public discussion of the personnel crisis facing our military today."

But he said the way in which the bill was put to a vote, with just a few hours notice, did not give Americans the opportunity to participate in public discussion of the issue.

Dalton Tanonaka, Abercrombie's Republican challenger in next month's election, was quick to criticize his opponent.

"That just shows how Neil was playing politics and scaring our young people unnecessarily," Tanonaka said. "And if he was trying to make a personal point in supporting the bill, he couldn't even hold true to his principles and vote for it."

Abercrombie said there is reason for people to suspect the draft will be brought back.

He detailed contents of a Feb. 11, 2003, Selective Service System document, which proposes extending the registration age to 34 from 25, requiring women to register and identifying those with critical skills. If there is a draft, the draftees would be assigned not just to the military but to the Department of Homeland Security and other federal and state agencies seeking personnel with critical skills.

The document appears to be a memo prepared for a meeting of the acting director of the Selective Service, the principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness and senior Department of Defense and Selective Service officials.



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