Thousands of Arlington Graves May Be Mixed Up
Senate panel blasts 'incompetent' cemetery chiefs
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2010 3:00 AM CDT
A bouquet of flowers lay among the graves in Section 60, where many soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.    (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(Newser) – The number of mismarked, unmarked, and mislabeled graves in Arlington National Cemetery could be as high as 6,600 out of 330,000 graves, a Senate hearing heard yesterday. Subcommittee chair Claire McAskill slammed the "catastrophic incompetence" of cemetery officials, the Los Angeles Times reports. "Waste, abuse, fraud—we've got the trifecta, and we have it concerning a national treasure," the Democrat said.

Former cemetery superintendent John Metzler, who retired this month, at first denied knowing of the problems before an Army investigation last month identified 211 remains as misidentified or misplaced in just three of the cemetery's 70 sections. After pressing from McAskill, however, he admitted knowing of problems as far back as 2005. He blamed the scandal on budget cuts. Sen. Scott Brown said he had once held a glorified view of Arlington. "It's almost like learning there's no Easter Bunny or Santa Claus," he said.