WASHINGTON. Partial remains of individuals killed in the September 11 attacks were dumped in a landfill per insistence from senior military officers, a new report from the Pentagon says. According to the Washington Post, William D. Ziwacharowski, a civilian who served as interim director of the Dover Mortuary and one of 3 whistle-blowers there says orders to discard the ashes in the landfill came from up top. Zwicharowski and an Air Force commander pushed to bury the unidentified remains at sea, per a 2008 decision to stop using incineration, but their request was ignored.
Mary Ellen Spera, James Parsons, Bill Zwichowarski- whistle-blowers at Dover Mortuary
The report finds that the remains that forensic analysis was unable to identify were incinerated and sent to the landfill, meaning they could possibly belong to hijackers or victims. It is still unclear how many sets of remains were handled in this manner, the LA Times writes
. The Pentagon
report was issued by a panel created by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta
to review the Pentagon response to the scandal and recommend improved practices at the mortuary.
The three whistle-blowers Spera, Parsons, and Zwichowarski, claim that the Air Force retaliated against them when they went above their chain of command to address the issues because it was “falling on deaf ears.” The Mail writes
that Parsons was fired in 2010 but reinstated almost immediately, while Spera and Zwicharowski said they received letters of reprimand. Zwicharowski also said he was put on administrative leave for eight months and at one point was labeled “mentally unstable.”
Dover has been under scrutiny since November of 2011 when it came out that the mortuary discarded 274 American military personnel in a Virginia landfill prior to 2008. There was also gross mishandling of the dead, such as sawing off a Marine’s bone so he could fit into his coffin, and misplacing a dead soldier’s ankle. Retired Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, who chaired the review panel described the commanders at Dover as “dysfunctional and isolated.”