FBI readying for anti-draft wave on campus this fall
If groups resisting draft registration have their way, many a college campus will be the scene of increasing protest this summer and fall. Here in New York, one of the hubs of student activism -- and violence -- during the Vietnam war, there already have been a few demonstrations against $13 .2 billion bill nearing passage in Congress to "active" draft registration beginning late next month.
But activism over draft registration is not confined to the student community.There is also evidence of it in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. FBI sources have told the Monitor:
* The agency is studying how best to cope with an anticipated surge in the number of resisters to registration. Not registering is punishable by up to five years in prison.
* Special investigatory attention will be focused on individuals in draft resistance groups linked with efforts to undermine national security, such as members of the Communist Party engaged in disruption for disruption's sake.
While the FBI is no longer empowered to investigate groups, as it did in the turbulent '60s, officials stress they are not restricted in their probes of individuals. This latter authority, they say, will be sufficient to deal with draft registration resisters as well as subversive elements.
University officials in New York have told the Monitor privately that they believe many members of the draft resistance groups surfacing today are Communist Party pawns, in monetary or philosophical terms, or both, and are bent on destruction first and draft resistance second.
Other university officials agree with the FBI that draft registration resistance, which has just begun to gear up, will not reach a crescento until fall, when the bulk of students return to the campuses.
The first nationwide simultaneous demonstrations were held June 18, as groups including the National Resistance Committee (NRC), the Citizens' Party of New York, the Socialist Party, and Mobilization Against the Draft held joint news conferences in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other cities.
At a New York Univeristy (NYU) press conference, Mark Lundell, a spokesman for the NRC, claimed that refusal to register was the "only way" to defeat the draft. To those who take this road, he added, the "NRC is compiling a national directory of draft registration counsel phone numbers to which people of draft registration age can turn for advice."
The press conference was sparsely attended, due in part to the fact that only summer sessions are in progress at NYU. However, NYU officials who attended the conference were concerned about the large number of "outsiders" present -- persons who had no known prior association with the university.
In the late 1960s, at the height of the Vietnam war protests, the FBI found that not only were nonstudents often the ring leaders in violent acts but that some of them were directly supported by agents of foreign governments.
It is too early for the FBI to know, law enforcement analysts say, how closely members of draft resistance groups may be linked to such elements.
Among other things, some of the groups are new, spawned in reaction to recent congressional action, and the FBI cannot investigate their members until they actually resist either draft registration or being drafted, in the event there is a draft.