Monday, November 28, 2005
WASHINGTON — One hot, dusty day in June, Col. Ted Westhusing was found dead in a trailer at a military base near the Baghdad airport, a single gunshot wound to the head. The Army would conclude that he committed suicide with his service pistol. At the time, he was the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq.
The Army closed its case. But the questions surrounding Westhusing's death
continue. Westhusing, 44, was no ordinary officer. He was one of the Army's leading scholars of military ethics, a full professor at West Point who volunteered to serve in Iraq to be able to better teach his students. He had a doctorate in philosophy; his dissertation was an extended meditation on the meaning of honor.
Something that angered Westhusing was the role of Security Contractor companies in Iraq. A psychiatrist who reviewed his letters and e-mails said:
"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."
Business as usual on the streets of Iraq? Was that his problem? The kind of thing reported in the Trophy Killings video?
I am not taking up here the debates on whether this was suicide, but there are of course such debates going on...