2003-01-18 / Columnists

From the G-Man

By Gary G. Toms

By Gary G. Toms

A 'Major' Reason To Question The Draft

Hey people! Back on November 2, 2002 I wrote a column entitled "It's Vietnam All Over Again." The column centered around Robert Kaye, a long time Belle Harbor resident and former Draft Board Advisor with the New York City Board of Education. The 30-year veteran of the education system (working as a teacher, a Dean and a Draft Advisor- but not concurrently), served as an advisor back in 1972, which was the focal point of American involvement during the Vietnam War. Kaye worked at New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn, and he dealt with conscientious objectors (those who were strongly opposed to fighting in the war for religious or personal reasons).

During the Vietnam period, Kaye became very concerned about the fact that military representatives were actively pursuing recruits in high schools across the country. Back then, a number of protests and riots broke out in high schools and colleges across the country, and it was only then that the government responded by working with the education system by placing draft board advisors in the institutions.

In looking at the potentially explosive situation with Iraq, and now very possibly North Korea, Kaye believes that we are headed for "Vietnam II," and that those who will be in the most danger are high school students across the country. He noted what the consequences would be if draft counselors were not placed in high schools if the draft is enacted during the war with Iraq or other countries.

"The students in the high schools of New York City are 60-75 percent minority. They will be affected to a very large degree. The rich kids won't go into combat detail. They are the ones that will be protected. They will get sent into non-combat units, receive special deferments, or get waivers to attend college. That's exactly what happened in the case of President George Bush, former vice-president Dan Quayle, and a host of other prominent leaders. They were not part of combat units. It will be the same situation as the Vietnam War all over again, and most of the people that will die in the front line will be people of color."

Much has happened since I wrote that column, and many of the things that Kaye is trying to bring to the forefront are now being discussed on many of the hottest cable news programs and talk shows across the country.

I was intrigued by what Kaye revealed to me back in late October, and I decided to dig a little further in effort to find more information regarding his claims. Guess what? I went so deep that I hit a major fault line! I found something that bolsters one of Kaye's claims to a much higher level, and again, it is something that no one in the major media (print or electronic) is bothering to shed a spotlight on. Check this out.

In a 1974 issue of the New York Daily News, reporter Causewell Vaughan, broke the story of how a Major in the United States Army, who was described as "the No. 3 man" in the Selective Service headquarters in New York, was indicted on charges of accepting $50,000 to help up to 400 men avoid being drafted or to get out of the Army.

"The three-count indictment charged Major William Sangemino, 45, who lives at Fort Hamilton Army base in Brooklyn, with bribery, perjury and conspiracy to defraud the United States," said the article.

"The indictment was handed up in Manhattan Federal Court and alleged that Sangemino, a 26-year Army career man, had received money between 1968 and 1972 at the height of protest against the draft and the Vietnam War."

The report stated that Sangemino worked with several co-conspirators, including Nathan Lemler, then 62, of Belle Harbor. Lemler was prominently featured in an April 18, 1974 story in the New York Times, which focused on his 14-year sentencing (along with a $244,000 fine) for his involvement in a fraudulent scheme to get 20 students into medical schools.

According to published reports, Lemler operated a "Selective Service and College Placement" counseling service in which he told men he could keep them out of the service and get them into various graduate schools. Lemler charged his clients $2,500 to $30,000 for his counseling, with a portion of the money going to Major Sangemino to get the men disqualified from the draft. The men referred to Sangemino were given the Major's business card. When reporting for a physical at Fort Hamilton, each man gave the card to "certain persons" and "would thereafter fail his physical examination."

In cases where a man was already in the service, the indictment charged, Sangemino and Lemler secured "fraudulent discharges or transfers." As part of that conspiracy, a family member or the servicemen would check into a mental hospital for six to 10 days. Subsequently, documentation would be presented to Army officials for the transfers or discharges.

Sangemino and Lemler were eventually convicted and sentenced to extensive prison terms.

With this information on record, it becomes easy to understand how uneven the playing field could become if the draft was reinstated. The Sangemino case clearly shows that mechanisms can be put in place by which the elite or the rich and powerful could avoid the call to serve.

Keep in mind, Sangemino and Lemler were charging in upwards of $2,500 to $30,000 to "hook people up." During that time period, there was only a certain segment of the population that could take advantage of the scheme, and many were not from the minority community. With that said, Robert Kaye indeed has a valid claim when he states that the sons and daughters of the elite in this country will never see combat. If you think the rich and powerful could not devise such schemes in 2003 to protect their offspring, think again.

Kaye is also right about the need for draft counselors if the draft is reinstated, for whatever reason.

"The Board of Education has to look into this and take it very seriously. It is possible," said Kaye.

"They have to set up safeguards in case these situations develop. Having draft counselors in the schools would be crucial if the draft is reinstated. If not, I think the outcome could be far worse than it was during the Vietnam period."

Sadly, there are those who still laugh and scoff at Robert Kaye and his effort to get this information out to the public, including the Department of Education. He has come to me as a vehicle to express his concerns, fears and solutions about this looming threat. I am doing my best to help him, but people are ignoring him and they are foolish for doing so. They laughed back in late October, but things have taken shape on the war front just as he had predicted.

I contacted the office of General Marcelite J. Harris, who was recently appointed Chief of Staff for NYC School's Chancellor Joel Klein, for a one-on-one interview. Since she is a respected General with the United States Air Force, I thought it would be a good idea to get her assessment of Kaye's claims. I even Emailed her a copy of "It's Vietnam All Over Again," To date, she has not responded to the column. So, if anybody out there knows "The General," tell her The G-man is looking for her.

Kaye's critics say things like, "Is he crazy? There's no draft, so what is his problem?" or "Congress will never reinstate the draft, so Kaye is way off the mark!"

No, there is no draft, but as a Green Beret stated to me recently, all it would take is an act of war for Congress to reinstate the draft. Given the current climate of the country, with regard to a looming war in Iraq and possibly North Korea, an act of war or aggression against the United States, or its allies, is a strong possibility.

See you next week!

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