WASHINGTON - The Pentagon revealed Tuesday that partial, incinerated remains of some 9/11 victims that could not be identified were sent to a landfill.
The number of victims involved was unclear according to a Pentagon report, but it involved some of those killed when a terrorist-hijacked airplane struck the Pentagon, killing 184, and another crashed in Shanksville, Pa., killing 40, in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The Pentagon released the report by an independent committee that was asked to examine practices at the military's mortuary at Dover, Del., the first stopping point for fallen troops coming home from war overseas.
"We don't think it should have happened," the committee chairman, retired Gen. John Abizaid, told a Pentagon news conference.
The panel was formed after an investigation revealed last November that there was "gross mismanagement" at the Dover facility and body parts had been lost on two occasions. After that investigation, news reports revealed that some cremated partial remains of at least 274 American war dead were dumped in a Virginia landfill until a policy change halted the practice in 2008.
Tuesday's report was explaining the old policy, and said: "This policy began shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, when several portions of remains from the Pentagon attack and the Shanksville, Pa., crash site could not be tested or identified."
It said the partial remains were cremated, then given to a biomedical waste disposal contractor who incinerated them and took them to a landfill.
The report did not say precisely where the remains ended up. Abizaid told reporters, "I don't know that there's a way to find out."