Army Misplaces Bodies at Arlington

Flickr/ <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/imageme/448127629//">Matt</a> (Creative Commons)

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


In recent years, the military has been criticized for not equipping downrange troops with enough armor and not providing disabled veterans with proper medical and mental health care. Now, the military is under fire for disrespecting its fallen at Arlington National Cemetery. Workers there misidentified or misplaced a whopping 211 bodies, Pentagon officials announced Thursday. “That all ends today,” Army Secretary John McHugh said, adding, “The majority of the findings in this report are deeply troubling and simply unacceptable.” McHugh also told reporters that the service has forced out the cemetery’s two civilian leaders and appointed a new chief.

The announcement follows a year-long investigation by Salon‘s Mark Benjamin into careless management at the cemetery, known as America’s “sacred ground.” In one instance, cemetery officials reburied the cremated remains of an unknown soldier whose urn was recovered in a dirt landfill. They also found unidentified remains in supposedly empty graves, misplaced headstones in a historic section of the cemetery, and buried one service member on top of another soldier in the same grave. Benjamin’s work, which began last summer, led to the Army investigation whose results were announced today.

“I’ve been extremely frustrated that the national media hasn’t seemed to want to touch this story with a 10-foot-pole,” Benjamin told Politics Daily today. As for the Army, he said, “Though they claim they’re trying to act in a spirit of transparency and with speed on this matter, these problems have been going on for years.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest