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View Diary: "Trophy Video" of Civilian Shootings By Contractors Emerges (255 comments)

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  •  This says it all........ (4.00)
    She said that Westhusing had placed too much pressure on himself to succeed and that he was unusually rigid in his thinking. Westhusing struggled with the idea that monetary values could outweigh moral ones in war. This, she said, was a flaw.

    "Despite his intelligence, his ability to grasp the idea that profit is an important goal for people working in the private sector was surprisingly limited," wrote Lt. Col. Lisa Breitenbach. "He could not shift his mind-set from the military notion of completing a mission irrespective of cost, nor could he change his belief that doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do should be the sole motivator for businesses."

    •  It says a lot, but not all. (4.00)
      I read the Westhusing story this morning and was floored. I don't believe they have made a convincing case for suicide. And Hunter, by juxtaposing these stories, really drives home the possibility that contractors murdered Westhusing to keep him from rocking the boat back in the states.

      I hope Westhusing's family is not so shaken by their loss that they fail to get a complete, independent accounting of what happened. And if they can summon the strength through their sorrow, I would love to see Mrs. Westhusing take on a Sheehan-like crusade for the truth and accountablity.

      This story should be HUGE!

      •  I think it does say it all (4.00)
        It sounds to me like poor Colonel Westhusing had a head-on collision with the disgusting immorality that is Iraq.  According to the Army's own report, the poor Colonel was having trouble adjusting to the fact that profit, not honor, is now the highest American ideal!  
        That an American Army officer wrote the following and did not choke to death on the hypocrisy of her words is mind-boggling:

        "Despite his intelligence, his ability to grasp the idea that profit is an important goal for people working in the private sector was surprisingly limited," wrote Lt. Col. Lisa Breitenbach. "He could not shift his mind-set from the military notion of completing a mission irrespective of cost, nor could he change his belief that doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do should be the sole motivator for businesses."

        I can see why the poor Colonel was having trouble reconciling young American soldiers dying for the country while greedy contractors made "a killing" of another kind.  His wife his right:  Iraq is what happened to him.  He was an honorable man and there is no honor is Iraq, at least among those running the war.  

        God Bless Colonel Westhusing's family. And God Bless Colonel Westhusing, a man of honor.  

        •  The Army report sounds like Bullshit! (4.00)
          Westhusing was a career soldier and officer. It's extremely unlikely that he was driven to suicide by the horror of war.

          He was also an accomplished scholar and professor of ethics. It's extremely unlikely that he was driven to suicide by an inability to grasp the concept of free enterprise.

          Yet he was described as being upset by the substitution of battlefield ethics with those of capitalism. And he was also described as the kind of person who would do something about it. That makes him an unlikely risk for suicide, but a very realistic risk as a target.

          •  An ethicist... (4.00)
            couldn't come to grips with capitalism? Please. And then there's the religion angle...

            His friends and family struggle with the idea that Westhusing could have killed himself. He was a loving father and husband and a devout Catholic.

            ...

            He immediately stood out on the leafy Atlanta campus. Married with children, he was surrounded by young, single students. He was a deeply faithful Christian in a graduate program of professional skeptics.

            In Catholic thought, suicide is a mortal sin:

            Suicide is murder of the self. It is contrary to the love of God, self, family, friends and neighbors. It is of especially grave nature, if it is intended to set an example for others to follow. Voluntary cooperation in a suicide is also contrary to the moral law. However, the responsibility of and gravity of suicide can be diminished in the cases of grave psychological disturbances, anguish, grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture. But this does not make it morally permissible, and it is the judgement of God that will measure the gravity or responsibility of the sin.

            And the fact that the contract manager (that was apparently having a dispute with the Col.) was alone with him for 15 minutes, admitted to handling the weapon after the Col's death (at minimum, tampering with a potential crime scene), was not tested for powder residue, and yet the death is ruled a suicide? I think this article is deliberately written to raise some questions, folks.

          •  Yeah (none)
            You're probably right, but what I was getting at was how incredibly sick the "official" line is (as parroted by the Army report):  I.e., that it's just hunky-dory that contractors are making shitloads of money off the war.  Me personally, I find it sickening.  That a contractor killed Westhoving is plausible, but I can also see how Westhoving might have become distraught at the Army brass's kowtowing to the war profiteers.  From what the article said about his background, Westhoving was gung-ho and idealistic, the kind of guy who believed with all his heart in "duty, honor, and country".  When he got over to Iraq and witnessed the cornucopia of corruption firsthand -- and saw that it was officially sanctioned by the Army brass -- it probably shook him to his core.  What's going on over there is unconscionable:  U.S. soldiers die, US contractors drag bags off money back home.        
        •  War Profiteering is Hardly News (none)
          Neither are mercenaries.

          From the civil war through Vietnam, profiteering was part and parcel of the war effort. In WWII, it was the "five percent myers"; in Vietnam, the storyline was that if you wanted to get rich in the Army, Saigon was the place to do it.  

          Compared to the scale of war profiteering in WWII and Vietnam, Iraq is chump change.

          And, of course, most of the contractors in Iraq are former Special Forces and SAS.

        •  Keep in mind (4.00)
          the most damning evidence of the Col. suffering from a depression or deterioration of his mental state all come from Employees of the contractor and those with a serious stake in ensuring the contract stayed in place (a US AID worker, A secretary for the contractor etc)

          Second the contractor's explanation for why he moved the gun is complete nonsense.  It's doesn't even begin to pass the smell test.  If the main was indeed a trained law enforcement officer, as he was supposed to be; he'd know that the #1 rule of Crime scenes was don't touch ANYTHING until its been photo'd and collected y the evidence guys.

           His notion that the gun might be kicked and therefore go off is preposterous because a) he could easily have cordoned off the area around the Gun, and b) guns simply DONT work that way.  To discharge the trigger must be pulled and kicking a weapon will not do that for you.

          Third if the Col was indeed a devout Catholic, he'd no that Suicide is a mortal sin, and not one you can get Last Rite to forgive.  In the middle of a war zone he could have found easier and less morally troubling ways to die (though as an ethicist he may have recognized that seeking death on the battle field isn't all that different than pulling the trigger himself)

          Finally, Why wait until he is at the Base of the  Contractor?  Why kill yourself in "enemy territory"?  If he had overwhelming moral qualms about their conduct, why kill himself in the most convenient  place for them to cover up the crime and discredit him?

          Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

          by Magorn on Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 08:01:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  that struck me too.... (4.00)
      There has to be a thorough examination of what should be and should not be for profit and driven by "market forces".  Somehow, something as serious as war should not be driven by maximizing profit.

      Even to conservatives (I believe, at least), market-driven economics only work when there is competition and the market is thoroughly educated with respect to the product being offered.  I know we don't have anything more than a fig leaf on the competition issue, and given that the market for this particular product is the government (which is in bed with the service providers), the "education" issue is used to maximize cronyism, not efficiency.

      •  amen (none)
        There has to be a thorough examination of what should be and should not be for profit and driven by "market forces".  Somehow, something as serious as war should not be driven by maximizing profit.

        Or, maybe, healthcare, do you think?

        -8.0, -7.03 don't always believe what you think...

        by claude on Sun Nov 27, 2005 at 05:24:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  It says it all about the psychiatrist. (4.00)
      She sees this as a flaw. She is sick. I would have been very surprised if the Pentagon had found a non-twisted psychiatrist to evaluate the colonel's death.

      Since his death first made the news in June, I have assumed that he was murdered. I'd bet he isn't the only one, or the last one. Everyone who investigates this hydra should make sure that they have backup reporting plans in place. It wouldn't save the investigator's life but it might save their work.

    •  I was totally going to post that! (4.00)
      That quote just kind of leaves you speechless, doesnt it?  We should all have such a character "flaw."  I suppose it is our own flaws that will keep us from seeing that this was a suicide and not actually a murder/coverup.
      •  And (none)
        the psychiatrist was a Lieutenant Colonel in the military, which says the rest.

        I believe in compulsory cannibalism. If people were forced to eat what they killed there would be no more war. Abbie Hoffman

        by margaretc on Sun Nov 27, 2005 at 05:20:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Profit = Morality (none)
      Simple equation, really.  Sometimes, the complex mind fails to grasp what is so simple.

      IT'S WHY WE NEED A PUBLIC SECTOR, PEOPLE.  YOU CAN MAKE A PROFIT SELLING INFESTED MEAT, INEFFECTIVE DRUGS, AND UNSAFE PRODUCTS.

      Honor, duty...How many active duty military voted for this Administration thinking that they would uphold American values?

      Come to think of it, maybe they are....

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