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June 10, 2010

Outrageous: Mismanagement At Arlington National Cemetery Leads To Misidentified And Misplaced Graves

Not to be flippant about this but Obama needs to find some asses to kick here and kick them hard.

The Army has stripped its top two managers overseeing Arlington National Cemetery of their authority and appointed a new executive director after an internal investigation found that potentially hundreds of remains have been misidentified to misplaced.

Army Secretary John McHugh, who released the results of the report Thursday, announced that the cemetery's superintendent, John Metzler, will be under supervision until he retires next month, and Metzler's deputy, Thurman Higgenbotham, has been placed on administrative leave.

McHugh, who ordered the investigation in November, called the report "deeply troubling" and "unacceptable."

"I deeply apologize to the families of the honored fallen resting in that hallowed ground who may now question the care afforded to their loved ones," McHugh told a Pentagon news conference.

What did the report uncover?

Army investigators at Arlington Cemetery have found what appear to be over 100 unmarked graves, scores of apparently empty graves marked with headstones, and at least four burial urns that had been inadvertently unearthed and dumped in the cemetery’s “spoils” area where excess grave dirt is stored.

They found a “dysfunctional” and chaotic management system, poisoned by bitterness between the superintendent and a top subordinate and hobbled by antiquated record keeping.

It seems most of the problems involve Iraq and Afghanistan casualties buried at Arlington.

In addition to the disservice done to the fallen and their families that have been identified, all other families must now be wondering if their loved ones were treated properly and their eternal place of honor and rest is as they have been told. They simply should not be put through this additional pain and stress.

I'm sure the overwhelming majority of men and women at Arlington and other national cemeteries do their very best to honor the fallen, but this is absolutely unacceptable. Simply retiring the leadership is not enough. Someone has to go to jail for dereliction of duty. Of course that won't be the charge but investigators can always find a misappropriated stapler or something. Identify it and prosecute them.

Most importantly, fix this system now and make sure it never happens again.

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posted by DrewM. at 08:12 PM

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