- People will be safe at 118th Boston Marathon, Mayor Marty Walsh says
- Boy Scout, 12, killed by rolling tree during troop outing at Washington park
- South Korean president: Ferry crew actions ‘murderous’
- President Obama poised to grant clemency to nonviolent drug offenders: report
- Teen OK after riding in wheel well of Hawaii jet
- Kraft recalls 96K pounds of Oscar Mayer hot dogs over cheese error
- Boy Scouts boots church as host after gay leadership dispute
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s new book raises 2016 presidential speculation
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Rep. Marsha Blackburn: Hillary Clinton won’t be first female president
2002 Pentagon memo guided 9/11 remains disposal
WASHINGTON — The disposal of human remains from the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, including the incineration and dumping of some portions in a landfill, was based on high-level Pentagon instructions, the Air Force’s top general said Wednesday.
Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff, told a group of reporters that the actions taken by the mortuary at DoverAir Force Base in Delaware were based on written guidance issued in March 2002 by David Chu, who was the Pentagon personnel chief under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Chu did not specifically mention dumping incinerated residue of 9/11 remains in a landfill, but his words might have been interpreted to allow that final step.
The Pentagon released a copy of the Chu memo, which was addressed to Thomas White, the Army’s top civilian official at the time. The Army oversaw the Air Force’s mortuary activities at Dover and elsewhere.
Schwartz said he only became aware on Tuesday of the fact that some portions of those remains were dumped in a landfill.
“To the best of our knowledge at this moment in time, we followed those disposition instructions” from Chu, Schwartz said. He added that “there is a requirement for us to validate that that is the case.”
The Chu guidance did not mention disposing of any remains in a landfill. It said unidentifiable remains that were mixed with fragments of “non-biological material” from the attack site were to be “treated in the same manner as any biological tissue removed for surgical or diagnostic purposes (i.e. disposition by incineration).”
That appears to leave open the question of whether disposal in a landfill was permitted.
The disposal issue came to light Tuesday when the head of an independent panel, retired Gen. John Abizaid, released a report that assessed management problems at the Dover mortuary. His work was triggered by revelations last fall about the mishandling of remains of American war dead at Dover in 2010.
The Abizaid report mentioned in passing that the practice of dumping of some portions of remains in a landfill began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The report said several portions of unidentifiable remains from the Pentagon attack and the site of the hijacked plane that crashed near Shanksville, Pa., were cremated, incinerated and dumped in a landfill.
Asked about the Abizaid report on Tuesday shortly after its public release, Schwartz and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said it was the first time they had heard of 9/11 remains being disposed of in a landfill.
At a previously scheduled breakfast interview with reporters Wednesday, Schwartz said the Air Force overnight had unearthed the Chu memo. He also said the Air Force determined that no remains from the Shanksville site were handled by the Dover mortuary, “as best we can tell.” He added that the Air Force would endeavor to “nail down” with certainty that Dover dealt only with remains from the Pentagon attack.
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- USAID documents cite Hillary Clinton in chaos of Afghan aid
- CURL: Shelly O first lady Michelle Obama comes in last
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- Twitter blocks accounts critical of Turkish government
- Inside China: Marine's comment on islands draws sharp Chinese response
- Building a D.C. memorial for an endless war bumps into regulations
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.