Category Archives: Operation 9/11

TSA chief: ‘Small knives can’t bring down a plane’ […of course]

“A small pocket knife is simply not going to result in the catastrophic failure of an aircraft…”

Knives on planes controversy: John Pistole, TSA chief, defended decision Thursday on Capitol Hill

wptv.com | Mar 14, 2012

By Thom Patterson CNN

knives-allowed(CNN) — As the airline industry piles on against him, the man who ordered knives to be allowed on U.S. commercial airliners defended his decision Thursday on Capitol Hill.

“It is the judgment of many security experts worldwide, which I agree with, that a small pocket knife is simply not going to result in the catastrophic failure of an aircraft, and an improvised explosive device will,” Transportation Security Administration director John Pistole told lawmakers. “And we know, from internal covert testing, searching for these items which will not blow up an aircraft can distract our officers from focusing on the components of an improvised explosive device.”

After his testimony at the Homeland Security subcommittee hearing, Pistole was expected to face questions from lawmakers who are concerned about traveler safety in a post-9/11 era.

Supporters believe the rules should be more passenger-friendly and focus on larger threats. Critics believe even small knives pose too much of a risk for airline crews, arguing that box-cutter knives were used in the 9/11 attacks.

In the nine days since the TSA opened a can of worms by announcing it would ease the ban on small knives in airline cabins, the list of groups concerned or opposed to the idea has grown to include airlines, airport screeners, federal air marshals, flight attendants and pilots.

Committee member Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-California, is expected to join critics during the hearing. Swalwell co-authored a letter to Pistole saying he was “mystified” by the move, calling Pistole’s decision “another example of a questionable TSA policy.”

“We’re unaware of a single incident involving these knives”

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, supports the rules change. Commercial aviation must be secure from threats as the highest priority, but Pistole also has a priority to make the TSA both “more passenger-friendly and threat-focused,” McCaul said in a recent statement.

Former TSA head Kip Hawley — who agrees with the change — said sharp objects can no longer bring down aircraft.

The TSA made its decision after a threat assessment determined that allowing small knives in cabins would not result in catastrophic damage to aircraft. But after consulting with Federal Air Marshal Service leaders, the agency opted to continue excluding knives that most closely resemble weapons, specifically knives with blades that lock in place, or have molded hand grips. Box cutters and razor blades also would remain on the prohibited items list. The rules are to go into effect on April 25.

The agency is aligning its knife policy with the International Civil Aviation Organization, which includes the United States and 190 other member nations. The group says each member exercises its own discretion about how to deal with the issue of knives in the cabins.

Under the new rules, knives with blades that are 2.36 inches (6 centimeters) or shorter and less than a half-inch wide will be allowed in airline cabins so long as the blade is not fixed or does not lock into place.

The rules also allow passengers to carry up to two golf clubs, certain toy bats or other sports sticks — such as ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and pool cues — aboard in carry-on luggage.

Airlines for America, the airline trade association, said Monday that “additional discussion is warranted” before small knives are allowed on planes.

Many critics of the new rules contend that in addition to adding an unnecessary threat to the safety of airline crews and passengers, the changes won’t make a difference in the TSA’s ability to concentrate on other threats.

Knives are probably the most common items surrendered by passengers at screening points, aside from liquids. Travelers surrender about 35 knives at Baltimore-Washington International Airport on an average day and about 47 per day at Los Angeles International Airport, officials say.

CNN’s Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.

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John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and Rand Paul remind Americans that 9/11 remains a dominant political theme

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) questions Senator John Kerry (Not Pictured) during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Kerry’s nomination to be secretary of state, on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 24, 2013. Gary Cameron / Reuters

NBC News | Jan 26, 2013

By Tom Curry

The attack of Sept. 11, 2001, has been so pervasive a theme in American politics in the years since that at times we scarcely notice its influence even though it explains so much of what came after that day.

Sometimes almost forgotten, 9/11 is an experience some Americans may recall only when they travel and must undergo screening from a select few of the army of 45,000 screeners that was created by the actions of 19 suicidal hijackers.

So it was remarkable that three times in the space of two Senate hearings on Wednesday and Thursday, the 9/11 attack percolated through the discussion.

Testifying Thursday morning at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to be secretary of state, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., voiced his regret that one effect of that fateful day has been to make people abroad see American policy simply in terms of killing individual al Qaida leaders and pre-empting terrorist threats.

America’s foreign policy must not be “defined by drones and deployments alone,” Kerry warned. “We cannot allow the extraordinary good we do to save and change lives to be eclipsed entirely by the (counterterrorism) role we have had to play since September 11th, a role that was thrust upon us.”

A day before, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her testimony about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, used the 2001 attack to make the case for continued robust American involvement in North Africa.

She warned of the risks of a 9/11-style attack from the group Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

“People say to me all the time, well, AQIM hasn’t attacked the United States. Well, before 9/11, 2001, we hadn’t been attacked on our homeland since, I guess, the War of 1812 and Pearl Harbor. So you can’t say, well, because they haven’t done something they’re not going to do it,” she said.

But a bit later Clinton came under assault from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who used 9/11 as his rhetorical theme.

“Ultimately with your leaving (the State Department), you accept the culpability for the worst tragedy since 9/11, and I really mean that,” Paul told Clinton. Democrats on the committee recoiled in anger at what they saw as a cheap exploitation of 9/11.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., told Clinton, “I think if some people on this committee want to call the tragedy in Benghazi the worst since 9/11, it misunderstands the nature of 4,000 Americans-plus lost over 10 years of war in Iraq, fought under false pretenses. It was fought under false pretenses, but it was also fought, I think, because we had a misunderstanding of what we could do and what we could manage in that region for what was under our control.”

Murphy, first elected to the House in 2006 as part of the voter backlash against the Iraq war, didn’t mention that Clinton herself, serving in the Senate in 2002, voted for the congressional resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to invade Iraq.

Her vote was one liability during her bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination – a liability which Barack Obama, a state senator when Congress voted on the Iraq invasion, didn’t have.

The 9/11 attack created the political environment which made possible, and perhaps even inevitable, the congressional vote authorizing Bush to use military force against Iraq.

In his Oct. 7, 2002, speech making the case for using force, Bush repeatedly invoked 9/11. To those American who wondered “why do we need to confront it (the threat of Saddam Hussein) now?” Bush said, “There’s a reason. We have experienced the horror of Sept. 11. We have seen that those who hate America are willing to crash airplanes into buildings full of innocent people.” And America’s enemies would be eager “to use a biological or chemical, or a nuclear weapon.”

Four days later, the Senate voted for the Iraq war authorization, with Kerry, Clinton and then-Sen. Joe Biden among the 77 voting for it.

Just as Murphy had argued at Wednesday’s Senate hearing that Iraq was “fought under false pretenses,” so, too, Democrats back in 2004 argued that Kerry, Clinton, Biden, then-Sen. Chuck Hagel and the other members of Congress who’d voted for the Iraq war resolution had been deceived.

But some antiwar Democrats argued that – deception or not – their party could never beat Bush in 2004 with a candidate who was compromised by having voted for the Iraq war resolution.

It’s impossible to know the answer to that question – would Howard Dean or Sen. Bob Graham (who voted “no” on the Iraq war resolution) have defeated Bush in 2004?

We do know that Bush held his party’s 2004 convention in New York City, a target of the 9/11 attack and defeated Kerry in the election.

His second term was an unhappy one for many reasons, but it was Bush – not Kerry – who got to the fill the next two vacancies on the Supreme Court.

And 9/11’s effect is also still directly felt in the current wrestling over fiscal policy. As Obama and congressional leaders try to figure out how to pay for ever-growing entitlement programs and reduce budget deficits, Republicans in Congress, but many Democrats, too, are reluctant to significantly reduce a $630 billion Defense Department budget that grew massively in the years after Sept. 11, 2001.

Pentagon Prosecutor To Drop Conspiracy Charges Against Alleged 9/11 Plotters

KSM
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Ap

Miami Herald | Jan 10, 2013

by Carol Rosenberg

The Pentagon’s war crimes prosecutor has decided to no longer seek a conspiracy conviction at the Sept. 11 death penalty trial, a move designed to shore up the case after a federal court undercut the authority of the Guantanamo war court three months ago, the Defense Department said Wednesday.

The announcement means that reputed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four alleged accomplices would still face a capital trial at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba. The next pre-trial hearing is Jan. 28.

But the Pentagon would allege seven rather than eight war crimes, notably 2,976 counts of murder — one for each person killed when terrorists hijacked passenger planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001. Other alleged crimes include terrorism and hijacking aircraft.

A senior Pentagon official, retired Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald, has yet to sign off on the move. But the Defense Department statement made clear that the 9/11 prosecutor was trying to drop the conspiracy charge to make the case less vulnerable to civilian court challenge.

“This action helps ensure the prosecution proceeds undeterred by legal challenge,” Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins said the statement, which was released Wednesday afternoon.

At issue is the Oct. 16 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that overturned Guantanamo’s best-known conviction — that of Osama bin Laden’s driver. The federal court said the Pentagon had no authority to prosecute the driver, Salim Hamdan of Yemen, on a charge of “providing material support for terrorism” because his alleged crimes took place between 1996 and Nov. 24, 2001, when he was captured in Afghanistan.

Congress for the first time defined “providing material support for terrorism” as an international war crime in 2006.

Now, the federal court is hearing a similar case that argues “conspiracy” also was not an international war crime at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks. That case is an appeal by Ali Hamza al Bahlul, a Yemeni who is the only prisoner among Guantanamo’s 166 captives currently serving a judicially imposed life sentence.

The conundrum created by the conspiracy charge, and its proposed withdrawal, provided critics with another opportunity to question the war court that President George W. Bush created and President Barack Obama had reformed.

“Each time the government overreaches, eventually the courts push back. The latest move by the prosecution makes clear that it recognizes the fragility of the entire process,” said Andrea Prasow, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch.

“The military commissions, even absent conspiracy charges, are still fundamentally flawed,” she added.

Those charged are: Mohammed, 47, a Pakistani who in a transcript of a secret 2006 military hearing at Guantanamo bragged that he devised the Sept. 11 attacks “from A to Z”; two alleged deputies in the “enterprise,” Ramzi bin al Shibh, 40, and Walid bin Attash, 34, both Yemeni; Mustafa al Hawsawi, 44, a Saudi, and Ammar al Baluchi, 35, a Pakistani.

Conspiracy is the No. 1 alleged crime on the Pentagon’s Sept. 11 charge sheet — and lays out 167 specifications, a narrative that spanned five years of meetings, training, travel and terror that began in 1996 with bin Laden’s declaring a jihad against America and Mohammed met with bin Laden to propose a plot of hijacking airplanes into buildings.

The Saudi and Baluchi, who is Mohammed’s nephew, are allegedly implicated in the conspiracy by allegedly helping the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers with wire transfers and travel arrangements to reach U.S. soil.

“Withdrawal of the conspiracy charge essentially removes the heart of the body of charges currently pending against Mr. al-Hawsawi,” said Navy Cmdr. Walter Ruiz, his military defense attorney.

The Defense Department did not release the new narrative that the prosecution would be pursuing.

The move left a number of open questions, chief among them whether the Justice Department would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take on the Hamdan case. It has until Jan. 14 to file a petition with the justices.

In a federal filing on Wednesday in the Bahlul case, Justice and Defense Department attorneys argued that the Hamdan ruling was wrong. But they said, given that decision, the court should rule swiftly and overturn Bahlul’s conviction, in what appeared to be a bid to move the issue along to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“In short, particularly with respect to conspiracy, it is plain that Congress authorized the military commission here to try Bahlul for this offense,” the government lawyer wrote.

Bahlul’s Pentagon paid appellate attorney, Michel Paradis, said he would not discuss the development because the prisoner had asked him not to make comments on the case.

U.S. overseeing mysterious “Site 911” construction project for Israel Defense Forces

US-Army-Corps-of-Engineers-Logo

Washington Post | Nov 28, 2012

By Walter Pincus

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to supervise construction of a five-story underground facility for an Israel Defense Forces complex, oddly named “Site 911,” at an Israeli Air Force base near Tel Aviv.

Expected to take more than two years to build, at a cost of up to $100 million, the facility is to have classrooms on Level 1, an auditorium on Level 3, a laboratory, shock-resistant doors, protection from nonionizing radiation and very tight security. Clearances will be required for all construction workers, guards will be at the fence and barriers will separate it from the rest of the base.

Only U.S. construction firms are being allowed to bid on the contract and proposals are due Dec. 3, according to the latest Corps of Engineers notice.

Site 911 is the latest in a long history of military construction projects the United States has undertaken for the IDF under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program. The 1998 Wye River Memorandum between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has led to about $500 million in U.S. construction of military facilities for the Israelis, most of them initially in an undeveloped part of the Negev Desert. It was done to ensure there were bases to which IDF forces stationed in the West Bank could be redeployed.

As recorded in the Corps’ European District magazine, called Engineering in Europe, three bases were built to support 20,000 troops, and eventually the Israeli air force moved into the same area, creating Nevatim air base. A new runway, 2.5 miles long, was built there by the Corps along with about 100 new buildings and 10 miles of roads.

Over the years, the Corps has built underground hangers for Israeli fighter-bombers, facilities for handling nuclear weapons (though Israel does not admit having such weapons), command centers, training bases, intelligence facilities and simulators, according to Corps publications.

Within the past two years the Corps, which has three offices in Israel, completed a $30 million set of hangars at Nevatim, which the magazine describes as a “former small desert outpost that has grown to be one of the largest and most modern air bases in the country.” It has also supervised a $20 million project to build maintenance shops, hangars and headquarters to support Israel’s large Eitan unmanned aerial vehicle.

Site 911, which will be built at another base, appears to be one of the largest projects. Each of the first three underground floors is to be roughly 41,000 square feet, according to the Corps notice. The lower two floors are much smaller and hold equipment.

Security concerns are so great that non-Israeli employees hired by the builder can come only from “the U.S., Canada, Western Europe countries, Poland, Moldavia, Thailand, Philippines, Venezuela, Romania and China,” according to the Corps notice. “The employment of Palestinians is also forbidden,” it says.

Among other security rules: The site “shall have one gate only for both entering and exiting the site” and “no exit or entrance to the site shall be allowed during work hours except for supply trucks.” Guards will be Israeli citizens with experience in the Israeli air force. Also, “the collection of information of any type whatsoever related to base activities is prohibited.”

The well-known Israeli architectural firm listed on the plans, Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects, has paid attention to the aesthetics of the site design as well as the sensibilities of future employees. The site, for example, will be decorated with rocks chosen by the architect but purchased by the contractor. Three picnic tables are planned, according to the solicitation.

The Corps offered a lengthy description of the mezuzas the contractor is to provide “for each door or opening exclusive of toilets or shower rooms” in the Site 911 building. A mezuza (also spelled mezuzah) is a parchment which has been inscribed with Hebrew verses from the Torah, placed in a case and attached to a door frame of a Jewish family’s house as a sign of faith. Some interpret Jewish law as requiring — as in this case — that a mezuza be attached to every door in a house.

These mezuzas, notes the Corps, “shall be written in inerasable ink, on . . . uncoated leather parchment” and be handwritten by a scribe “holding a written authorization according to Jewish law.” The writing may be “Ashkenazik or Sepharadik” but “not a mixture” and “must be uniform.”

Also, “The Mezuzahs shall be proof-read by a computer at an authorized institution for Mezuzah inspection, as well as manually proof-read for the form of the letters by a proof-reader authorized by the Chief Rabbinate.” The mezuza shall be supplied with an aluminum housing with holes so it can be connected to the door frame or opening. Finally, “All Mezuzahs for the facility shall be affixed by the Base’s Rabbi or his appointed representative and not by the contractor staff.”

What’s the purpose of Site 911? I asked the Pentagon on Tuesday, and the Corps on Wednesday said that only an Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman could provide an answer.

This may be a trend-starter. The Corps is also seeking a contractor for another secret construction project in Israel in the $100 million range to awarded next summer. This one will involve “a complex facility with site development challenges” requiring services that include “electrical, communication, mechanical/
HVAC [heating, ventilation, air conditioning] and plumbing.” The U.S. contractor must have a U.S. secret or equivalent Israeli security clearance for the project, which is expected to take almost 21/2 years to complete.

That sounds like a secure command center.

The purpose of Site 911 is far less clear.

9/11 Truth group adopts stretch of highway in St. Louis

A Missouri state transportation official is wary of potential negative publicity but says that doesn’t outweigh the advantages of clean roads.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | Dec 13, 2012

By Adam Edelman

truthA half-mile stretch of highway running through the city has been adopted by The St. Louis 9/11 Questions Meetup Group, which will have its name posted along the segment it’s committed to keep litter-free.

A conspiracy-touting group alleging that 9/11 was an “inside job” has been granted permission to adopt a stretch of highway in Missouri, the state’s Department of Transportation confirmed Thursday.

Under the state’s Adopt-a-Highway program, the small but controversial organization — called the St. Louis 9/11 Questions Meetup Group — will have its name posted on a sign along a half-mile stretch of highway in St. Louis, according to an official at the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). The sign will go up in January.

In return, the group will maintain and keep clean the stretch of highway.

According to the group’s website, members of the group claim to be “residents of the Greater St. Louis Area (and other areas) concerned about the many disturbing aspects of the 9/11 attacks, adding that, “we have many disagreements, but we agree that 9/11 is worth inquiring into. We are inclusive as opposed to exclusive. Generally, we believe that when gravity causes an object to move, the object goes down, not upwards and outwards in an arc.”

On its website, the group sells T-shirts that say “The 9/11 debacle was an Inside Job!” along with other shirts featuring photos of the collapse of the World Trade Center with text that raises questions about the details of the destruction. The group’s organizer, Donald Stahl, could not be reached for comment.

Tom Blair, a MoDOT assistant district engineer, said he’s wary of any negative publicity the controversial group will bring to the state, but that the value of clean roads — and the savings the program brings to taxpayers — ultimately outweigh any bad attention.

“Well, I’m concerned about the attention, but we need the program,” Blair said. “I’m concerned any time negative attention goes to the program, but it’s a solid program and it’s important to remember that. And anyone, whatever their motivations, can apply for it, as long as they just pick up the trash.”

According to the MoDOT website, approved groups adopt a stretch of highway at least a half-mile long and agree to collect litter at least four times a year. The state saves about $1 million a year from the volunteer efforts, Blair said.

The 9/11 Passenger Paradox: What happened to Flight 93?

Thanks to the work of Pilots for 9/11 Truth and others, we know that the ACARS messages sent to Flight 93 indicate that the plane was heading west over Illinois several minutes after it supposedly “crashed” in Pennsylvania!  Pilots for 9/11 Truth found that messages sent after the time of the crash were received by United 93 at ground stations far away from Shanksville.  They said that the aircraft would not have had messages routed through the ground stations that were actually used “if it were en route to crash in Shanksville, PA.”

For that reason alone, we know that United 93 did not crash in Pennsylvania.  For that reason alone, we know that  43 people were not killed in a Shanksville crash.  For that reason alone, we can call off the official story and continue our search for the real history of this day’s event.

veteranstoday.com | Mar 15, 2012

by Dean Hartwell (with Jim Fetzer)

Once the fabrication of all four of  the alleged 9/11 crash sites (which I have documented in “9/11: Planes/No Planes and ‘Video Fakery”) begins to sink in, the question which invariably arises is, “But what happened to the passengers?”  Since Flights 11 and 77 were not even in the air that day, it seems no stretch to infer that the identities of the passengers on non-existent flights were just as phony as the flights themselves:  no planes, no passengers.  But we also know that Flights 93 and 175 were in the air that day, even though–astonishingly enough, for those who have never taken a close look at the evidence–they were not de-registered by the FAA until  28 September 2005, which raises the double-questions of how planes that were not in the air could have crashed or how planes that crashed could still have been in the air four years later?

Pilots for 9/11 Truth has confirmed that Flight 93 was in the air, but over Urbana, IL, far from the location of its alleged “crash” in Shanksville, PA; just as Flight 175 was also in the air, but over Pittsburgh, PA, removed from the South Tower at the time it was purportedly entering the building, which–unless the same plane can be in two places at the same time–established that some kind of “video fakery” was taking place in New York, as I have explained in many places. As a complement to the new study of the Pentagon attack by Dennis Cimino, “9/11: The official account of the Pentagon attack is a fantasy”, Dean Hartwell, J.D., has considerably expanded our understanding of questions about the passengers, where the manifests may include a mix of the dead and the non-existent, as well as some who may have been killed by the government to make their Hollywood-style event a bit more realistic and emotional. In the methodical fashion of an attorney presenting his case, Dean outlines the crucial questions and the most likely answers, where problems nevertheless abound.  My opinion is that these three studies constitute a “one-two-three punch” from which the “official account” can never recover.  From beginning to end, 9/11 was a fabricated event.

And, in case anyone entertains any lingering doubts, two of the most powerful indications of fakery and fraud are to be found in the punishment trial of Zacharias Moussaoui, the alleged “20th hijacker”, in Arlington, VA, in April 2006, which Scholars wrote about at the time.  He was convicted in April 2005 of having been involved in the 1993 attack on the Twin Towers, but in April 2006 he was being punished for having been involved in the 2001 attack–a federal judicial “shell game” of immense proportions.  The trial was used to introduce emotional testimony about the passengers aboard Flight 93 plotting to use a drink cart to break through the cabin door, which was picked up by the Cockpit Voice Recorder.  But, as Allan Green, a member of Scholars, noted, CVRs do not record voices in the passenger compartment.  A second blunder was noticed by a Muslim member of Scholars, Muhammad Columbo.  The last words the “hijackers” on the tape are recorded as having said are “Allah akbar!  Allah akbar!” (“God is great! God is great!”).  But as he explained, “The last words of a Muslim cannot be these!  They are used in the call to prayer or in an attack at war.  On the moment of death, a Muslim must confirm that ‘There is but one God, Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet!”  Which means that those who were composing this script did not know enough to get it right.

The most telling indication that the Shanksville crash site was faked, in my opinion, is what was not done as opposed to what was. Flight 93 is supposed to have completely disappeared because the ground was very soft from past mining operations.  Indeed, on some versions, the plane completely disappeared into an abandoned mine shaft.  But we know what to do with miners who are trapped in mine shafts.  We bring out the bright lights and heavy equipment and dig, 24/7, in the hope that, by some miracle, someone might have survived.  That it was not done in this instance tells us that there was no point in even faking such an op, which would have exposed that there was no plane there and no passengers to rescue. Think of the spectacular television coverage had such a “rescue attempt” been undertaken.  They even trimmed the burnt trees and shrubs to make sure that they could not be subjected to chemical analysis to determine whether the damage had been caused by jet-fuel based fires.  Such were the efforts of the “first responders” to save the lives or recover the bodies of the passengers.

Subsequent studies by the EPA of the crash site have confirmed that there was no residue from the jet fuel that would have been pervasive had a Boeing 757 actually crashed there.  Research on the “crash sites” thus appears to be pure dynamite in blowing the “official account” of 9/11 out of the water.

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Pentagon admits it dumped 9/11 victims’ remains in a landfill


The disclosure that unidentified remains from the 9/11 attack were buried in a landfill was a small part of a larger report on problems at the military’s mortuary at Dover, Del. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports.

msnbc.com | Feb 28, 2012

By M. Alex Johnson

For the first time, the Defense Department acknowledged Tuesday that some cremated remains of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were dumped in a landfill.

The disclosure is just two paragraphs in an 86-page report released Tuesday by an independent task force reviewing operations at the military’s mortuary at Dover, Del.

In a contentious briefing for reporters at the Pentagon, retired Army Gen. John Abizaid, the head of the panel, tried to keep the focus on steps the military was taking going forward, saying the 9/11 findings were only a minor part of the task force’s work.

Asked repeatedly for more information, he said, “We did not spend a great deal of time and effort and energy” on the matter, adding forcefully: “It’s my report, but it’s not the focus of the report.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta formed the task force in December after an investigation by the Air Force, which runs the facility, found that some remains of U.S. military personnel weren’t handled “in accordance with procedures.”

The Air Force acknowledged that it had disposed of the incinerated remains of at least 274 service members in the landfill before it ended the practice in 2008. At the time, officials said records went back only to 2003.

But the independent panel found that the practice went back at least to 2001, and it discovered that “several portions of remains” recovered from the 9/11 attacks at the Pentagon and at Shanksville, Pa., also ended up in a landfill:

Prior to 2008, portions of remains that could neither be tested nor identified, and portions of remains later identified that the [family or other representative] requested not to be notified of (requesting that they be appropriately disposed of) were cremated under contract at a civilian crematory and returned to [Dover]. This policy began shortly after September 11, 2001, when several portions of remains from the Pentagon attack and the Shanksville, Pennsylvania, crash site could not be tested or identified.

These cremated portions were then placed in sealed containers that were provided to a biomedical waste disposal contractor. Per the biomedical waste contract at that time, the contractor then transported these containers and incinerated them. The assumption on the part of [Dover] was that after final incineration nothing remained. A [Dover] management query found that there was some residual material following incineration and that the contractor was disposing of it in a landfill. The landfill disposition was not disclosed in the contractual disposal agreement.

Read the full report (.pdf)

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz, said they hadn’t yet had a chance to review the entire report.

“This is new information to me,” Donley acknowledged when asked about the 9/11 victims by NBC News Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski. Schwartz, asked the same question, replied, “That’s what I’m saying.”

Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., who has sought answers to what happened at Dover since last year, said the report bore out what he believed all along.

“I suspected, as Gen. Abizaid’s panel has now confirmed, that these practices had been going on for many years. Even remains from the 9/11 terrorist attacks were treated in this way,” Holt said in a statement to msnbc.com.

“The Department of Defense needs to engage in some real soul-searching,” Holt said. “How is it possible that, for years or even decades, no one at Dover recognized how profoundly inappropriate these practices were?”

‘Commanders in name only’

Abizaid told reporters that the Air Force’s complex command structure led to the problems by creating “commanders in name only.”

But “this was not just an Air Force problem,” he said, adding that the entire U.S. military “needs to understand this is a 100 percent no-fail mission.”

For one thing, he said, the Dover facility should no longer cremate fallen troops, because “we think it’s a bad idea for DoD to be in the cremation business” in the first place.

The Dover facility is the first point of entry for U.S. service members who are killed or die overseas. It first came under investigation in 2010 after employees complained about how some cases were handled.

Investigators said last year that they had found no evidence that anyone intentionally mishandled the remains, but they concluded that the mortuary staff failed to “maintain accountability” with some remains.

“The standard is 100 percent accountability in every instance of this important mission,” Schwartz said at the time.

“We can, and will, do better, and as a result of the allegations and investigation, our ability to care for our fallen warriors is now stronger,” he said.