A new report from the Pentagon has families of 9/11 victims and some of the public at large extremly upset over the handling of human remains.
In the latest review of the mishandling of body parts at the Dover Air Force Base mortuary, it was revealed that “several portions of remains” that were recovered from the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA, were dumped in a landfill. The remains reportedly “could not be tested or identified” because they were too small for DNA analysis so they were cremated and then mixed with biomedical waste at the Dover mortuary, where they were then given to a contractor who incinerated them and dumped them in a landfill.
The White House has issued a statement saying it is “deeply concerned” about the landfill disposals and about “the unacceptable handling of remains at Dover.” The statement said President Obama had been briefed on the review and that he “strongly supports the Pentagon’s efforts to make needed systemic structural changes so that these types of incidents never happen again.”
Members of Congress are also pressuring the Defense Department for answers, emphasizing that the families of these victims deserve to know the exact fate of their loved one’s remains. Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-NJ) wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta asking whether they could confirm “no 9/11 victims’ remains were incinerated, mixed with medical waste and sent to a landfill?” When he didn’t get a response, he said in an interview:
“They don’t even seem to understand the gravity of the scandal. They don’t have the degree of chagrin or embarrassment they should have.”
The Dover mortuary has been under fire in the past for dumping portions of remains of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans in a similar manner until the practice was halted in favor of burying ashes at sea. Many say 9/11 victims deserve to have their remains discarded in a more honorable manner as well.
Do you think the Defense Department was disrespectful in its handling of these remains?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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