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Portions of an unidentified number of 9/11 victims' remains were incinerated and ultimately dumped in a landfill, the federal government acknowledged Tuesday for the first time.
The Washington Post reports that a Defense Department review recognized that the Dover Air Force Base mortuary in Delaware disposed of "several portions of remains" recovered from the wreckage at the Pentagon and the Shanksville, Pa., crash site in a landfill.
The unidentified remains were cremated and turned over to a biomedical waste disposal contractor, who then incinerated them and sent what remained to a landfill, according to the report.
Top Air Force leaders have said that they did not know about the practice until the report was released Tuesday, and information about exactly what happened remains scarce. Retired Army Gen. John Abizaid, who presided over the report, said only that his panel had been tasked with making recommendations to the Dover mortuary rather than investigating past practices.
The New York Times notes that Abizaid "offered no detail about the disposal of the Sept. 11 victims’ remains," which were only mentioned in passing on page 6 and in a brief passage in the report's appendix.
This isn’t the first time the mortuary has faced scrutiny. The Post previously broke the story that the mortuary had been disposing of cremated portions of remains of troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq in a practice kept secret from the troops' family members. The military says that practice ended in 2008.