Dishonor To The Dead

Friday, July 30, 2010 - 8:14am

Hearings reveal long history of problems at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Arlington National Cemetery scandal is growing.

A Congressional subcommittee investigating potential fraud at the cemetery where America's war dead are buried says thousands of graves may be mislabeled.

Army officials acknowledge that a criminal investigation has begun into contracts for a failed computer system for grave tracking.

Investigators last month found that around 200 graves at Arlington were either unmarked or mislabeled due to lax management and reliance on paper records.

During a contentious hearing on Capitol Hill it was revealed that as many as 6,600 graves may be affected, with some bodies even buried in the same graves accidentally.

The chairwoman of the subcommittee investigating the scandal scolded the former superintendents.

"This is not complicated," said Senator Claire McCaskill. "It's called keeping track of who you bury where."

Former superintendent John Metzler cited a cut in staff and complexity of burying 6,000 people a year at the cemetery, saying he couldn't be blamed completely.

"Mr. Higginbotham was my representative and I trusted him that he was working the problem," Metzler said.

The subcommittee is examining whether contracting failures caused the problems.

About 30 funerals a day occur at Arlington.

The burial site opened in 1864.

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