Pentagon: 9/11 Victim Remains Sent to Landfill

Posted February 29th, 2012 at 12:20 am (UTC-5)
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A new Pentagon report reveals that partial remains from victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks were sent to a landfill after they could not be identified.

The report released Tuesday says that “several portions of remains” from victims of the attack on the Pentagon and the hijacked plane that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, were given to a bio-medical waste disposal contractor. The contractor then incinerated the remains and disposed of them in a landfill.

The Pentagon says the practice began when remains could not be tested or identified. The report says officials at the Dover Port Mortuary assumed that after the final incineration “nothing remained,” and that the landfill disposition was not part of the contract.

Chair of the mortuary review subcommittee, retired Gen. John Abizaid, told reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday that he did not know how “extensive” it was. When pressed about the issue by a Washington Post reporter , Abizaid refused to answer the questions.

“I'm telling you that was not the focus of the panel. The focus of the panel was to look forward, to see what was wrong, to correct what was wrong, or make a forward-looking sort of recommendation about what needed to be fixed. We did not spend a great deal of time and effort and energy looking into what you're talking about. Next question. I'm sorry, but we're going to the next question. It's my report, but it's not the focus of the report.”

The findings are part of a report on the military's Dover mortuary in Delaware. The practice of putting partial remains in the landfill was discontinued in 2008. The military now cremates partial remains and puts them in the ocean.

A statement issued late Tuesday by the White House press secretary's office says President Barack Obama strongly supports the Pentagon's efforts to make needed structural changes to prevent such incidents in the future. The statement says the U.S. “has a solemn obligation to compassionately and professionally care for fallen service members” and the victims of the 2001 attacks.

The remains of the victims are among the 184 people killed when a terrorist-hijacked plane struck the Pentagon outside Washington D.C., and the 40 people killed when a second hijacked-plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.