National Commission on Military Service Interim Report Due Wednesday, January 23rd

The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (NCMNPS) will release an “interim report” this Wednesday, January 23rd, at a press conference from 9-10:30 a.m. EST at the Newseum in Washington, DC.

Members of the public can attend the news conference in DC on Wednesday by preregistration, and the news conference will be livestreamed on the Commission’s Facebook page. The written interim report will be posted on the Commission’s Web site at

The interim report is unlikely to reveal what the Commissioners have agreed, and there is probably still substantial disagreement between members of the Commission. But the interim report will lay out what options the Commission is considering with respect to whether Selective Service registration should be abolished, expanded to women as well as men, or replaced with a new system, most likely a national service scheme in which those who don’t “voluntarily” do civilian work approved by the government would be subject to possible conscription into the military.

Commission staff have said that the interim report will include a schedule of dates and places (some in DC, some elsewhere) for formal hearings by the Commission later in the first half of 2019. There’s no formal procedure for applying to testify, and Commission staff I spoke with earlier this month did not know if any time will be allocated for “open mike” testimony or if only invited witnesses will be heard from.

Updated information and an analysis of the interim report and more on what the Commission is likely to recommend in its final report in March 2020 will be posted on once the report is released on January 23rd. In the meantime, here are some key points to keep in mind about the Commission’s interim report:

(1) The Commission asked for input from the public, but has chosen to withhold, in their entirety, all of the comments submitted by members of the public, even after I requested them under the Freedom Of Information Act. That means the Commission can “cherry-pick” which comments to cite in its report, and ignore those raising issues or arguments that the Commission doesn’t want to deal with. Until the comments are made public, we won’t know how the public responded to the Commission’s questions. But I suspect that the 25,000 signers of a petition asking Congress to end draft registration rather than extend it to women, presented to the Chair of the Commission at its public event in Los Angeles, constitute the majority of the public submissions to the Commission.

(2) The Commission has kept its research plan and all of the results of the research it has conducted and commissioned secret. That means the Commission can cherry-pick which data supports its recommendations, and blackhole contrary data or research reports. As a result, it will be impossible to assess whether the Commission’s research supports its conclusions and recommendations. Little if any weight should be given to conclusions or recommendations based on secret or selectively-released data.

(3) The Commission’s Web site says that, “The Commission is committed to… learn from those who serve and do not serve,” and, “The Commission seeks to learn more about why people serve and why people may choose not to serve.” But all of the panelists invited to speak at the Commission’s public events to date spoke about why they chose to serve. The Commission has yet to invite any testimony from those who choose not to “serve”, as the Commission defines “service”.

(4) Despite having been directed by Congress to assess whether compulsory programs including continued or expanded Selective Service registration and possible compulsory national service are “feasible”, the Commission does not appear to have made any effort to assess whether any compulsory program could be enforced, or if so, how and at what cost. The Commission appears to have taken a “see no evil, hear no evil” approach to issues of compliance, enforcement, and feasibility, as though the government could impose conscription by waving a magic wand. There is no mention of enforcement in any of the reports to the Commission (including the report from the Department of Justice, which is responsible for investigation and prosecution of draft resisters) or any of the agendas of Commission meetings released to date. The Commission prefers to talk about service rather than coercion. But conscription or compulsory service is a naive fantasy unless it includes a credible enforcement plan and budget endorsed by the Department of Justice.

Edward Hasbrouck maintains the website.