Soldier Sues Over Extended 'Back Door Draft'

Alternet today reports on the thousands of soldiers being forced into indefinite terms of servitude by military "stop loss" orders. These orders, critics say, are in essence a "back-door draft."

[Michael] Hoffman, like thousands of others who volunteered to serve their country, are being forced to stay long after they planned on leaving, because of the "stop loss" orders authorized by statute. The orders – which have been called "back-door drafts" – allow the military to suspend all laws and regulations and force all personnel to continue serving. The orders apply to those whose tours of duty expire and to those who are eligible for retirement. "I just thought you leave the military and you can get called back if they need you," says Hoffman. "With the 'stop loss' orders, you never leave. They extend your contract, which is something nobody really understands when they first sign-up."

One soldier, using the name "John Doe" to protect his identity, has sued to have his "stop loss" order overturned:

Now comes a lawsuit, filed last week in federal court in San Francisco, challenging the military's controversial policy on behalf of "John Doe," a decorated veteran and married reservist in the California Army National Guard, asking his "stop loss" order overturned. The lawsuit argues that the policy, based on an executive order issued after Sept. 11, 2001, doesn't apply to enlisted personnel. It further argues that the order is only valid after war is legally declared by Congress. Among the named defendants are Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Army Secretary Les Brownlee and John Doe's company commander.

"People don't surrender (all) rights when they go into the military," says Marguerite Hiken, co-chair of the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild. "The government can't hold you indefinitely. If the war on terrorism never ends, 'stop loss' doesn't end. These people never get out. The military is saying we control you completely."

If John Doe wins his suit, will it result in the reinsitution of the draft? The military says a draft is not currently planned:

According to the Secretary of Defense, there are no plans to reinstate the draft," responds Hart. "This is an all-volunteer Army. I cannot speculate on 'what-would-happen-if' type questions."

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