The Pentagon faked the “arrival” of war dead for seven years, the agency has admitted, after a journalistic investigation raised questions about the practice.
After NBC News began digging, it was revealed that the Pentagon faked the ceremonial arrival of soldiers’ bodies, towing planes into place and suggesting caskets held the remains of returning remains of troops killed in action.
According to the network, a subsequent investigation revealed that the ceremonies were not as they appeared, and NBC reports:
“The Pentagon insisted that the flag-draped cases do contain human remains recently recovered, just not ones that arrived that day. It said its staff ‘treat the remains with the utmost of care, attention, integrity, and above all, honor.’ The Pentagon statement did not explain why the rituals were called ‘arrival ceremonies’ if no one was arriving, or why the public had been told that remains removed that morning from the lab were about to go to the lab to ‘begin the identification process.’ “
In response to public interest regarding the slightly misleading faked Pentagon ceremonies, the government released a statement clarifying the aim and purpose of the arrivals and the manner in which they’re handled:
“Due to the increased media interest in the command; its missions and activities, JPAC leadership is more cognizant of how these ceremonies are perceived by the public. Based on how media announcements and ceremony remarks are currently written, it is understandable how these ‘arrival’ ceremonies might be misinterpreted, leading one to believe the ceremonies are ‘dignified transfer ceremonies,’ which they are not.”
Confirming that human remains are indeed contained within the flag-draped cases, the Department of Defense added:
“Every transfer case in the Honors Ceremony contains the remains of a fallen hero. Chain of custody procedures are in place and adhered to by all JPAC personnel who come in contact with the remains of unaccounted for service members. From the moment the anthropologist recovers the remains on mission, through the flight home and arrival at the base, and the initial transfer to JPAC’s Central Identification Lab, the remains are secured and tightly controlled to preserve the scientific integrity of the identification process.”
You can read the government’s full statement on the Pentagon’s faked ceremonies here. [PDF]