This story has been out for a few years now, but it’s hardly made a blip in the mainstream media landscape. While Republicans have had a non-stop stream of rants about how President Obama doesn’t care about the troops, a dirty little secret is haunting the era known as the George W. Bush administration.
We’ve known since the start of the two Bush wars that there was a media blackout. Unlike Vietnam before it, the media was not allowed to show the hundreds and thousands of body bags being flown from the Middle East. That blackout could be why it went unnoticed for several years that they were regularly incinerating and throwing the bodies of our troops into a Virginia landfill.
The Washington Post picked up the story in 2011, but odds are that most still aren’t aware that at least 274 troops were treated like last night’s chicken bones. Naturally, the families did not know about the dumping. Instead, they were under the impression that their loved ones would be disposed of in a “respectful and dignified manner.”
This week, after The Post pressed for information contained in the Dover mortuary’s electronic database, the Air Force produced a tally based on those records. It showed that 976 fragments from 274 military personnel were cremated, incinerated and taken to the landfill between 2004 and 2008.
An additional group of 1,762 unidentified remains were collected from the battlefield and disposed of in the same manner, the Air Force said. Those fragments could not undergo DNA testing because they had been badly burned or damaged in explosions. The total number of incinerated fragments dumped in the landfill exceeded 2,700.
Here’s the video:
There’s no evidence that the President was aware of the practice, but it was done between 2003 and 2008, right-smack in the middle of Bush’s wars and during the Bush administration.
The travesty was discovered by three whistle blowers who worked for the mortuary at the Dover Air Force Base. One whistle blower was allegedly fired and the other two faced what they said was retaliation.
The Air Force chain of command has taken responsibility, sort of. They were shy of calling the actions “wrongdoing.”
To this day, we don’t know how many troops were involved. The Air Force complained that they would have to comb through the records of more than 6,300 troops, to which one Congressman, Rep. Rush Hold (D-NJ) said:
“What the hell?” he told the Post. “We spent millions, tens of millions, to find any trace of soldiers killed, and they’re concerned about a ‘massive’ effort to go back and pull out the files and find out how many soldiers were disrespected this way?”
“They just don’t want to ask questions or look very hard,” he added, according to the newspaper.
The three whistle blowers did say, though, that today, things are better than ever and that the troops are being taken care of. Fortunately, in 2009, then newly-elected President Barack Obama lifted the media blackout for military casualties. Now that things are in the open, military heroes are getting the respect they deserve.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.