November 12, 2011
A New Jersey congressman wrote directly to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta two months ago to seek details about the Dover Air Force Base mortuary’s practice of dumping troops’ cremated body parts in a landfill but says he never received a reply.
The congressman’s letter raises questions about when Panetta learned that the mortuary disposed of cremated portions of remains at the King George County, Va., landfill. Panetta has said he was unaware of the dumping before this week.
Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), acting on behalf of a constituent whose husband was killed in Iraq and was prepared for burial by the Dover mortuary, said he sent a letter to Panetta on Sept. 16 “seeking clear and definitive answers” about the mortuary’s landfill practices. Holt said he had raised the issue a few months earlier with the Pentagon’s legislative affairs office but was “frustrated by a failure” to get a full response.
Pentagon press secretary George Little said Friday that Panetta’s office had received Holt’s Sept. 16 correspondence and that staffers “have been working to collect the information required to answer the questions in the congressman’s letter. We will, of course, provide a thorough response as promptly as possible.”
Little said Panetta was first briefed on the issue Wednesday.
This article was posted: Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 2:13 am