National Defense

The Drug War Draft Marches on Through the Night to Baghdad


Interesting vid clip from the folks at Students for a Sensible Drug Policy about what they're calling "the drug war draft." As readers of reason and Hit & Run know, current law dictates that college students with drug busts on their records get bounced from federal financial aid. The SSDP folks point out that:

The U.S. Military is having trouble meeting its recruiting goals.

To make up for the enlistment shortcomings, the Bush administration has loosened restrictions and is granting more so-called "character waivers" to allow more people with drug convictions to sign up.

Meanwhile, President Bush and some of his friends in Congress support a law that has prevented 200,000 aspiring students from getting the financial aid they need to afford college just because they have drug convictions (most often for misdemeanor marijuana possession).

Of course, young people should be able to serve our country in whatever way they think they best can—whether by going to college and becoming a doctor or a lawyer, or by enlisting in the armed services.

But the "Drug War Draft" created by the Aid Elimination Penalty limits opportunities and forces countless young people out of school and into the military to fight a war they may not agree with. Eerily, the Pentagon-commissioned RAND report Recruiting Youth in the College Market (PDF) states: "The [armed] services might be able to significantly expand their pool of potential recruits by adopting policies that target youth who plan to go to college…"

I don't agree that the AEP forces anyone into the military, though it definitely fucks with student aid in a tremendously stupid and unfair manner that should never have started. But I'm with SSDP on the question of fairness. Here's the clip: