Lawmakers promise scrutiny of mishandling of troops' corpses


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In a statement, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday he has ordered an independent review of operations at Port Mortuary at the Dover base.

“This panel will evaluate the changes that have been implemented to ensure that we are treating all of our fallen service members with the greatest reverence, dignity and respect,” Panetta said.

The leaders of the congressional Armed Services committees, which would be tasked with crafting any legislative changes to military mortuary operations, said Wednesday they are closely monitoring the situation.

"Paying tribute to our returning deceased heroes is a difficult task, made more so because there can never be any room for error,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said Wednesday. “It appears that this important standard has not been upheld in all cases.

"We are also closely examining the special counsel's report, and the Air Force has committed to quickly providing a full briefing to the Armed Services Committee,” McKeon said in a statement. “The committee will not hesitate to act to reinforce standards of perfection for our returning fallen warriors."

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said in he is “deeply distressed to learn that the remains of service members were not handled properly.”

The SASC chairman said he has asked his staff “to review the Air Force investigation to ensure the adequacy of the findings and of the corrective action taken."