"The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner." (Psalms 118:22)
Colonel Theodore (Ted) Westhusing was a full professor at West Point, a PhD in philosophy who taught military ethics. He volunteered to serve in Iraq and was assigned to oversee the contracts of a private security company, United States Investigations Services out of Virginia (a branch of the Carlyle Group, there's a shocker) with contracts worth $79 million. They were hired to train an Iraqi police corps for "special operations".
[OEE Note: USIS identifies itself as a descendent of the federal Civil Service Commission that was put in place to investigate applicants after the assasination of President Garfield by an angry job seeker. It was transmuted by congress and the president into a private company in 1996. "Were I to see this on a stage, I would condemn it as an improbable fiction."]
Last May, an "anonymous" four-page letter was sent to Colonel Westhusing in Iraq that accused USIS of deliberately shorting the government on the number of trainers reported to increase its profit margin.
[OEE Note: This is an old game, frequently played. The Manchu army of the 19th century was full of these "ghost armies"-- the numbers of troops reported to the central government looked good on paper, but only a few of the names supplied by the local mandarins were viable soldiers-- the rest were old men, ward heelers, or somebody's brother-in-law. The central government gave the mandarins an allowance for each man reported on the books. The ward heeler got a few crumbs just for signing his name, and the mandarin pocketed the rest. If there was an inspection, the mandarins trotted their cronies around the barracks for a day, bribed the inspector, and everyone was happy. (The central government was no better-- the Dowager Empress spent money assigned for a modern battleship on an life sized ornamental boat for her garden. As a result, the Taiping rebellion made mincemeat out of the emperor's troops until the Chinese mandarin Tseng Kuo Fan and his protegees put together a reformed army that could actually fight for their Manchu masters.]
The letter to Westhuysen detailed two incidents in which USIS contractors allegedly participated or were present at the killing of Iraqi civilians. A USIS contractor was boasting about the number of insurgents he had killed, the letter says. Private security contractors cannot conduct offensive operations, unless American policy has changed and we are openly hiring mercenaries.
Another letter arrived from a USIS employee who saw Iraqi police trainees kill two innocent civilians, then cover it up. A USIS manager (quoting the letter) "did not want it reported because he thought it would put his contract at risk." Westhusing reported these letters to his superiors but at the time told General Joseph Fil that he believed USIS was following the terms of its contract.
Sometime between that conversation and the first week of June 2005, Theodore Westhusing's the tone of his letters home became more and more depressed and agitated by the situation he was seeing in Iraq. He was having trouble sleeping. We are meant to interpret this as a dangerous obsession with honor versus capitalism in Iraq, poor chap, a common slander by those who love money more than virtue.
On the morning of June 5th morning, according to an Army Corps official, Westhusing verbally attacked the contractors present. The unnamed official said it was the first time he'd seen Westhusing lose his temper in three months. According to this witness, "He was sick of money-grubbing contractors," and Westhusing said that "he had not come over to Iraq for this."
The meeting broke for lunch. Around 1 p.m., a USIS manager went looking for Colonel Westhusing because he was scheduled for a ride back to the Green Zone. There was reportedly no answer, and the manager says he returned about 15 minutes later. Another USIS employee looked through a window and saw Westhusing lying on the floor in a pool of blood. The manager moved the pistol from the floor to the bed before notifying anyone, because, he says, he was afraid someone would trip over it.
The investigation has a four page letter in Westhusing's handwriting expressing thoughts such as "I cannot support a msn [sic] that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars. I am sullied. I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored. Death before being dishonored any more--" but a man concerned with ethics might use the same phrase to express confronting a dangerous situation. Nothing has been reported from the supposed suicide note that specifically mentions death by suicide. Westhusing's hand reportedly tested positive for gunpowder. A psychologist, Lt. Col. Lisa Breitenbach, has provided a rationale for Westhusing's suicide, but her scenario is built about as well as a sophomore's literary paper: "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."
[OEE note: This kind of lickspittlery by psychologists-- that the dominant paradigm can't possibly be in error, therefore the patient must be mad-- is the kind of thing that gives the profession a bad name.]
Colonel Westhusing's superiors have praised him, a terrible tragedy all around, albeit a damned convenient one for somebody. His family and friends are bothered that Colonel Westhusing was without a bodyguard and surrounded by the same contractors he was accusing of corruption. The family is asking why the manager who found the body, picked up his weapon and "moved" it form the floor to the bed wasn't tested for gunpowder residue. One of Westhusing's friends from graduate school is saying, "He's the last person who would commit suicide. He couldn't have done it. He's just too damn stubborn."
[OEE Note: "Trophy" videos showing murders in Iraq are starting to show up at places like this. Similar trophies of war atrocities were being broadcast by American soldiers on an American site when (I'm shocked, shocked!) the owner of the amateur forum was threatened with jail by the guardians of decency in Polk County, Florida. Meanwhile the internet -- and American corporations-- swim in billions of dollars generated by images far more offensive to the commonwealth than naked GIs, their wives and sweethearts. Christopher Wilson, the owner of this amatuer porn forum, is being held on $101,000 bail. He has taken down the pictures of naked bottoms but is still publishing, with perverse courage, the photos of atrocities in Iraq that are sent him by GIs.]
Truth hasn't many friends to go her bail, not in today's United States. Not the complicit Clinton Democrats with splattered blood on their hands, not the Republicans who have yet to reach their remarkably high gag level (remember McCarthy and Nixon? The dead nuns in El Salvador? Remember hugging Bush the Younger after the smears against your daughter? Do you really want it that much, John McCain?)
Thus American democracy is defended not by her self appointed champions, but by two stones the builders rejected: an honor bound ethicist who once belonged to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and an amateur pornographer who went for the gross out and naively started posting everything the GIs sent him. If the one had stuck to his books, if the other had been content with bare breasts and bottoms, we might never have heard of them.
This is admittedly, armchair detective work. From this distance, lunchtime seems an unlikely hour for suicide-- but persons who are being accused of murder already have a habit of believing they can erase a crime by killing everyone who knows anything about it.