Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Claims Without Corpses

In case you've missed the discussions, word from forensic pathologists dealing with the dead in New Orleans is that identifying a "fair number" of the bodies will be impossible.

One of these pathologists (whose name I didn't catch in time, sorry) was on Tucker Carlson's show last night, describing quite graphically, the problems with identifying bodies that have been floating in warm water, in 90 degree heat, for two weeks (imagine that!).

There's a bit of discussion as to the ID challenges here and here.

You'll forgive my pessimism, but... FEMA et al are already showing signs of CYA in their handling of the recovery effort. A large part of this stance is arguably in preparation for the cases of relief fraud that we all know will show up in the press sooner or later. While the overwhelming majority of relief recipients will be people in genuine need, there will certainly be some slimy prick in, oh I don't know, Nevada, making various claims for restitution. And that cretin will be all the Bush apologists will talk about for days and days and days.

Imagine the obstacles families will face when they discover that their loved one is among the "missing", possibly one of the "unidentifiable" bodies in question. I'm given to understand that racial determinations will be impossible, scars and tattoos will be obliterated. DNA samples can be extracted, but without material against which to match these samples, they're pretty well useless. ("Honey, did you grab Grandma's hairbrush before we hacked our way through the roof? Uh, no? Bummer."). Starting out on the defensive already, I shudder to think what kind of bureaucratic demands will be made of those wishing to file claims without corpses.

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