Army orders probe at Arlington Cemetery

Secretary of the Army John McHugh has ordered an investigation into operations at Arlington National Cemetery.

McHugh’s orders follow allegations of lost accountability of some graves and poor record keeping at the cemetery where members of the military, presidents and some lawmakers, such as the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), were laid to rest.

“This is the place where valor rests, a place of reverence and respect for all Americans," McHugh said Friday.

“As the final resting place of our nation's heroes, any questions about the integrity or accountability of its operations should be examined in a manner befitting their service and sacrifice,” said McHugh, the former ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.

McHugh’s announcement of the probe comes after cemetery workers mistakenly buried cremated remains in a grave site already in use. While the error was discovered in May 2008 and corrected, now questions have been raised whether cemetery officials used proper procedures to correct that mistake, including notifying the next of kin.

In another instance, an unmarked grave was discovered at the cemetery in 2003, but cemetery officials took no action until 2009. McHugh has ordered the Inspector General to examine the accountability in that case. The Inspector General is already performing a management review of the Arlington National Cemetery, directed by former Army Secretary Pete Geren.

“A thorough investigation, and transparency in its results, can help correct whatever may be wrong, and ensure America's confidence in the operation of its most hallowed ground,” McHugh said. “We will take appropriate action as the facts dictate.”