Again, this time at TIME Magazine. I count Benjamin as one of our era’s Ernie Pyles, from his Salon series on suicides at Camp Lejeune to his unflinching coverage of torture. And he’s kept on the Arlington Cemetery scandal with persistence and grace. Ernie Pyle crossed with Seymour Hersh: because when he sniff something wrong, he doesn’t let go.
You’ll be drily amused, as I was, as he peels off the layers of how the Army has sat on issues at Arlington for decades, it seems:
A copy of that 1997 inspector general report obtained by BATTLELAND shows some shocking deficiencies at the cemetery. It doesn’t say anything about not knowing where all the bodies are buried, which turned out to be the real scandal. But it basically says that the Army knew back in 1997 that the cemetery was out of control in myriad ways under the Superintendent there, Jack Metzler, and his deputy, Thurman Higginbotham. The Army finally forced them out last summer, 13 years later.
And here is the kicker — the 1997 report follows yet another report that found problems back in 1992.
“The atmosphere of turmoil, distrust, mismanagement and poor employee morale has continued to the present,” the 1997 report says. “There is no indication that the superintendent has changed and employees have lost confidence in his leadership ability.”
God bless the honest IG that at least recorded the truth, for folks like Benjamin to unearth. Like misplaced graves.