Sunday, December 11, 2005

Bodies as Freight....Support Your Troops, Send Them Home In Cardboard Boxes?

Family Upset Over Marine's Body Arriving As Freight
Marine Bodies Sent To Families On Commercial Airliners

POSTED: 4:46 pm PST December 9, 2005
UPDATED: 6:20 pm PST December 9, 2005
SAN DIEGO -- There's controversy over how the military is transporting the bodies of service members killed overseas, 10News reported.

A local family said fallen soldiers and Marines deserve better and that one would think our war heroes are being transported with dignity, care and respect. It said one would think upon arrival in their hometowns they are greeted with honor. But unfortunately, the family said that is just not the case.

Dead heroes are supposed to come home with their coffins draped with the American flag -- greeted by a color guard.

But in reality, many are arriving as freight on commercial airliners -- stuffed in the belly of a plane with suitcases and other cargo.

John Holley and his wife, Stacey, were stunned when they found out the body of their only child, Matthew, who died in Iraq last month, would be arriving at Lindbergh Field as freight.

"When someone dies in combat, they need to give them due respect they deserve for (the) sacrifice they made," said John Holley.

John and Stacey Holley, who were both in the Army, made some calls, and with the help of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, Matthew was greeted with honor and respect.

"Our familiarity with military protocol and things of that sort allowed us to kind of put our foot down -- we're not sure other parents have that same knowledge," said Stacey Holley.

The Holleys now want to make sure every fallen hero gets the proper welcome.

The bodies of dead service members arrive at Dover Air Force Base.

From that point, they are sent to their families on commercial airliners.

Reporters from 10News called the Defense Department for an explanation. A representative said she did not know why this is happening.

Copyright 2004 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

December 9, 2005
Before 9/11, Warnings on bin Laden

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 - More than three years before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, American diplomats warned Saudi officials that Osama bin Laden might target civilian aircraft, according to a newly declassified State Department cable.

The cable was one of two documents released Thursday by the National Security Archive, a research organization at George Washington University that obtained them under the Freedom of Information Act. The other was a memorandum written five days after the 2001 attacks by George J. Tenet, then director of central intelligence, to his top deputies, titled "We're at War."

The June 1998 cable reported to Washington that three American officials, the State Department's regional security officer, an economics officer and an aviation specialist had met Saudi officials at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh to pass along a warning based on an interview Mr. bin Laden, the Saudi-born leader of Al Qaeda, had just given to ABC News.

They said he had threatened in the interview to strike in the next "few weeks" against "military passenger aircraft," mentioning surface-to-air missiles. The cable said there was "no specific information that indicates bin Laden is targeting civilian aircraft," but added, "We could not rule out that a terrorist might take the course of least resistance and turn to a civilian target."

Part of the Tenet memo had been reported previously in Bob Woodward's 2002 book, "Bush At War." The eight-paragraph Tenet letter was a call to arms, declaring "a worldwide war against Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations" and saying that the effort would require "our absolute and total dedication."

The 2001 document echoed an earlier memo about Al Qaeda that Mr. Tenet had sent on Dec. 4, 1998, to top C.I.A. officials and other intelligence agencies, stating: "We are at war. I want no resources or people spared in this effort." But the national 9/11 commission concluded last year that the 1998 memo had "little overall effect" on mobilizing the agencies to fight terrorism.

* Copyright 2005The New York Times Company


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