This is the conclusion of a two-part diary. It concerns the alleged suicide of Colonel Ted Westhusing, one of General David Petraeus’ subordinates, and also the highest ranking officer to die in Iraq. You can read the first part here. The two diaries are based on documents publicly released last Thursday.
What to make of this? The ethical, philosopher Army officer with an appreciation for ancient Greek “arête” gets an anonymous letter allegedly incriminating the contractors under his command. The letter basically states that the very foundation of the Iraq mission over which he and Petraeus are responsible has collapsed. He asks around, gets some information, and then has to decide what to do with what he has learned. He realizes that he is scheduled to return home from Iraq in a mere six weeks. So he then writes a letter to Major General Fil stating that there is no basis for the claims. Nothing to see here. Everything is fine with the operation.
Eight days later, he’s dead.
One possibility is that Westhusing knew how badly things were going as far as the Iraqi Security Forces were concerned—that he believed the contents of the anonymous letter were true, and that he had seen other things that told him they were true. But perhaps in an effort to maintain the image of his beloved and honorable Army, he couldn’t bring himself to publicly find _ the allegations true. He couldn’t deal with the idea that his Army could be operating in such a way. Perhaps his sense of guilt over covering up the transgressions made him take his own life.
Another possibility is that he knew how badly things were going, but wanted to keep it quiet because he only had a few weeks left in Iraq—and he didn’t want to make waves that would not only keep him there longer, but could also endanger his career and reputation _and the reputations of those above him. Here again, perhaps the guilt over doing such a thing ate away at him to the point that he decided he couldn’t live with himself anymore.
But there is a third, more sinister, possibility. What if Westhusing was pressured or coerced, by the contractors or his superiors (Petraeus or Fil), to find that nothing was going wrong? In that case, what could Westhusing have done?
If that were the case, he would have had, of course, two options: he could blow the whistle anyway, or he could “go along” with whoever was pressuring him. Let’s say Westhusing was coerced into keeping it quiet. Could it be that this drove him to commit suicide shortly before he was to leave? Could it be that his sense of honor was so highly developed that he could neither turn on his own Army, nor live with himself for not blowing the whistle? Maybe.
To find out, let’s look at what his wife told Army investigators.
2. June 17, 2005 interview of Westhusing’s widow, Michelle, by Army investigators.
Army investigators interviewed Westhusing’s wife Michelle to find out whether or not she considered him suicidal or even capable of committing suicide. Here is some of what she said in the interview:
Q. How often did you e-mail your husband?Westhusing’s widow then continued to explain to the investigator how her husband’s spirit had begun to flag in recent weeks, and how he wasn’t getting enough sleep or exercise. She said that, originally, he had been “on top of the world” about going to Iraq, believing that it “would make him a better professor when he taught cadets” at West Point. But now, she said, he was getting progressively more depressed. The investigator then asked,
A. Every week in the beginning, then after the two week phone call, I emailed him every day because something I heard his tone of voice that scared really scarred me. (sic)
Q. The two week phone, what do you mean by this?
A. That was the telephone call where he wanted to go into LTG PETRAEUS (capitalization not mine) and quit. The call lasted about 30 minutes and the tone in his voice told me something was wrong. I told talked him out of quitting. I then started to e-mail him constantly, (Rest of sentence redacted). I even called the family got them to see if they could help him. (sic)
Q. When was the last time you communicated with your husband?
A. A few more e-mails after that telephone call, but that phone call was the last time. It was exactly two weeks to the day, a Sunday, that the Jewish chaplain gave me word about his death.
Q. During his tour in Iraq, how was his demeanor and state of mind?As if that part weren’t creepy enough, it gets worse. Keep in mind that Westhusing had yet to report to Fil and Petraeus that everything was peachy with the contractor, USIS, and their operations.
A. It seemed great. I did not notice anything until that two week telephone call.
Q. How did your husband’s demeanor and state of mind change?
A. He said he could not be a part of it anymore. The contractors were corrupt, the Iraqi (sic) were not trustworthy. He said he lost control. The Iraqi treatment of the insurgents was deplorable and he could not rein them in. He was going to LTG PETRAEUS and quit. Although he did not quit, I think he told LTG PETRAEUS about the Iraqi treatment. He may have told the Iraqi commander. The impression I got from him was that someone was going to harm him. I did not think he would kill himself. I’ve always been his best friend and he always told me everything. I don’t think he talked to anybody else.
Q. Did your husband express any other concerns, problems, or major issues while he was in Iraq?Did she just say “the corruption of the contractor?” He told his wife the contractor was corrupt? I thought, according to Westhusing only eight days before his death, that USIS was “complying with its contractual obligations.” I thought the “evidence” suggested that the allegations in the anonymous letter were "not true as well.” I thought CTSO had “supervised this contract well.” Apparently, Colonel Westhusing didn’t believe a word of what he wrote to Major General Fil on May 28, 2005.
A. Just the treatment of the insurgents, the corruption of the contractor, * and how he did not trust the Iraqis as far as he could spit. *He also lost faith in his commanders. He was moral and ethical person. (sic).
It is right there in the document. Westhusing had confided in his wife how corrupt the contractor was. This seems to prove that Westhusing knew he was lying * to Fil and Petraeus when he delivered his findings on May 28, 2005. So this, then, begs the question: *Were his motives for keeping quiet personal? Or was he coerced? The investigator went on to ask Westhusing’s wife,
Q. Did your husband ever mention he was concerned for his life?Later, the investigator asked her straight out,
A. No he did not. But I was, because I heard something in his voice. I have had training in listening to the tone of a person’s voice, such as the inflection. In Ted’s voice, there was fear. He did not like the night time and being alone in that trailer.
Q. At any time were you concerned that he may commit suicide?I’d like to think that I’m reading too much into this, but unfortunately, I may not be—especially after reading the report done by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division.
A. No, absolutely not. Actually the opposite, I thought someone would kill him, just because of the tone of his voice.
Q. The note BG SCAPARROTTI previously showed you (the suicide note), was the handwriting consistent with your husband’s handwriting?
A. Generally, but a few things looked fishy. His signature did not look right, but the wording seemed like him. Also the note was clean. His handwriting is just awful and hard to read, and I thought the letter was too clean for him.
Q. Is there anything unusual about his death?
A. The glasses I was given by the CAO. He is always taking his glasses off; I just don’t see him wearing his glasses when he died. Also his airborne ring was missing. He wore it above his marriage ring. Something I gave him. Now he may have taken it off, but it is missing.
3. Bulk of the report done Army Criminal Investigation Command.
According to the CID’s report, the first witnesses to the scene of the death did not tend to it properly. In fact, the first person touched and moved the weapon, clearing it and placing it on the bed. You can read about it on page four of the document. And what makes matters even more complicated, is that this first person on the scene—the person who discovered Westhusing’s body—was a contractor for USIS—the very company that Westhusing had investigated, and the company he knew was corrupt. Westhusing, the English professor and lover of ethics and philosophy, had “got the goods” on USIS. And the first person to discover his body, was a USIS contractor.
WTF is going on here? Is it possible that Westhusing was murdered to keep quiet? If so, would the murderer have known about Westhusing’s feelings toward his superiors? Or was the note, along with its sentiment, completely fabricated? Was Westhusing having second thoughts about covering up the corruption? Why did he feel the need to lie in the first place, as he clearly did? As I said earlier, where the hell is the mainstream media on this? Certainly, if things were going great in Iraq—if the Iraqi police and military were well on their way to success—I would be apt to discount the suicide note written by Colonel Westhusing. But we know they’re corrupt. We know the contractors are accountable to no one. And most importantly, given this case, why has the media given General David Petraeus a free pass? Why is his conduct during this period not scrutinized? As the man in charge of rebuilding the Iraqi military and police force, it appears that he had no control over the process. To boot, his subordinate, a full-bird colonel, thought Petraeus was only in it for himself. Again, why no scrutiny?
The bottom line is this: Either Westhusing, a highly respected senior officer, truly believed that General Petraeus was a self-centered, uncaring, and corrupt leader, or someone else wrote the letter and then murdered Colonel Westhusing. There are no other options.
Either way, this has major implications for the United States in Iraq. The Bush administration has chosen to bet the house on David Petraeus. But is this just a dog and pony show for Petraeus? Is he really as capable as he would have us all believe?
I make no judgment myself. Instead, I leave these documents to you.