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Former Arlington Cemetery Officials to Face Congressional Hearing

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has indicated that the subcommittee which she chairs (the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on Contracting Oversight) has served subpoenas to the former officials who ran Arlington National Cemetery to testify before the subcommittee regarding the poor oversight of the cemetery recently exposed.  (See our previous post regarding gravesite problems at the cemetery here.)

The officials who have been subpoenaed are John C. Metzler, the cemetery’s former superintendent, and Thurman Higginbotham, who was the second-in-command.  The two have not spoken in public since hundreds of errors involving unmarked or mismarked graves were discovered last month.  Sen. McCaskill indicated that there may be thousands more errors than the initial 200-plus identified by the internal Army investigation last month, as the Army’s report only covered a small portion of the more than 600 acres and 300,000 graves in the cemetery. 

Indeed, The Washington Post recently reported that there are problems in both highly popular and relatively unknown areas of the cemetery.  Its investigation found more than 60 discrepancies on “Justice Hill” – which is the final resting place for eight Supreme Court justices – and also 3 rows of missing graves in one of the least-known sections that is devoted to former slaves, including black Civil War soldiers. 

Congress is investigating to determine who in the chain of command is ultimately responsible for the years of mismanagement, which includes $5 million provided for computer upgrades that was apparently wasted.  The Washington Post found that some of the problems may be due to an allegedly long-standing personal feud between Metzler and Higginbotham, including reports of discrimination.  

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