Arlington Cemetery officials subpoenaed
Officials who ran Arlington National Cemetery for nearly two decades before hundreds of unmarked and mismarked graves were discovered last month have been served with subpoenas to testify Thursday before a Senate subcommittee investigating contracting irregularities, according to the committee's chairwoman.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on Contracting Oversight will require John C. Metzler, 62, and Thurman Higginbotham, 68, the cemetery's longtime superintendent and second in command, to testify at a hearing on Thursday morning, said Maria Speiser, spokeswoman for committee chair Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
Neither man has spoken publicly since Army Secretary John McHugh last month announced that the Army's Inspector General had found more than 100 unmarked graves, scores of grave sites with headstones that are not recorded on cemetery maps, and at least four burial urns that had been unearthed and dumped in an area where excess grave dirt is kept.
On Sunday, The Washington Post reported that it found problems with another 130 graves between one of Arlington cemetery's least-known sections and one of its most popular. In a historic but little visited area of the cemetery, three rows of graves of freed slaves and black Civil War soldiers are missing. The 70 graves are listed on the cemetery's master map, but on the ground there are no headstones marking them.
Steps from President John F. Kennedy's grave and memorial, there are more then 60 discrepancies between the cemetery's map and what appears on the ground in a prestigious area where eight Supreme Court justices are buried. In many cases -- including the plot where former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and a Vietnam War veteran are buried -- two of the VIPs are buried where the map notes just one. Another grave that appears occupied on the map has no headstone. And seven graves that appear empty on the map are filled.
The Post also reported that thousands of pages of internal records and interviews with dozens of current and former Army employees reveal that the Army has launched multiple investigations into Arlington over the years.
Not only did they turn up chronic problems with record-keeping, but they also revealed a dysfunctional management structure that operated with limited and fractured oversight and a contracting system that appeared to operate outside the normal structure for the federal government. Repeated attempts to correct the situation fell short.
Congressional investigators are examining how far up the chain of command responsibility should rest as well as why, among other issues, cemetery officials frittered away at least $5 million for computer upgrades with little to show for it.
Metzler was harshly reprimanded by the Army and retired July 2. Higginbotham, 68, had been placed on paid administrative leave and has also since retired, effective July 3.
Posted by: Spruce1956 | July 27, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: highexpectations | July 27, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bnichols6 | July 27, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mitlen | July 27, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jwalsh2 | July 27, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.