Colonel Theodore S. Westhusing (November 17, 1960 – June 5, 2005), a West Point professor of English and Philosophy, volunteered to serve in Iraq in late 2004 and died in Baghdad from an allegedly self-inflicted gunshot wound in June 2005. At the time he was the highest ranked American to die violently in Iraq since the start of the March 2003 United States-led invasion. He was 44 years old, married with three young children.
The following is the suicide note left by Col. Westhusing to his commanding officer General Petraeus. The note was featured in an article by Robert Pryce, published in the Texas Observer on March 8, 2007:
- Thanks for telling me it was a good day until I briefed you. [Redacted name]—You are only interested in your career and provide no support to your staff—no msn [mission] support and you don’t care. I cannot support a msn that leads to corruption, human right abuses and liars. I am sullied—no more. I didn’t volunteer to support corrupt, money grubbing contractors, nor work for commanders only interested in themselves. I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored. I trust no Iraqi. I cannot live this way. All my love to my family, my wife and my precious children. I love you and trust you only. Death before being dishonored any more. Trust is essential—I don’t know who trust anymore. [sic] Why serve when you cannot accomplish the mission, when you no longer believe in the cause, when your every effort and breath to succeed meets with lies, lack of support, and selfishness? No more. Reevaluate yourselves, cdrs [commanders]. You are not what you think you are and I know it.
- COL Ted Westhusing
- Life needs trust. Trust is no more for me here in Iraq.
Works by Col Ted Westhusing
Ted Westhusing (2002). ‘Target Approval Delays Cost Air Force Key Hits': Targeting Terror: Killing Al Qaeda the Right Way. Journal of Military Ethics 1 (2):128-135.
Links to Specific Stories and Comment by Robert Steele Below the Line
ROBERT STEELE: I have been witness to 1 personal suicide and 19 professional suicides — old spies of my era liked to brag that we had the highest rates of alcoholism, adultery, divorce, and suicide. I have also faced my own demons, and the phrase that has kept me going is this “A live dad without a job or in disgrace is better than a dead dad to those he leaves behind.” It is certainly possible that Col Westhusing committed suicide–I have to remind myself that among the 19 suicides in my professional life one–Rick Yanuzzi–totally defied explanation (Langley strangler got a pad PAR, went public, Rick was an SES with a lovely family and a bright future.) Col Westhusing knew he was 30 days away from going home, he was planning to leave the Army, not kill himself, and on balance, I believe that he was killed by the contractors on their own initiative, and the murder covered up by the US Army flag officers and the West Point Protective Association for their convenience. As John Reed observes, and I have seen the same thing at CIA, the day you graduate is the day you leave integrity behind. As one who prizes integrity and have coined the phrase, “the truth at any cost lowers all other costs,” I do not believe that Col Westhusing would take his life–he had too much to live for, and his decision to leave the Army was the ethical decision, as well as the pro-family decision. As always, “who benefits?” is the question to be asked. It has not been answered to my satisfaction by the US Army. Integrity does matter. It has a strategic, operational, tactical, and technical value that is beyond price. In my view, 90% of the flag officers serving today, and their senior executive service counterparts, are unfit for duty because they have chosen to go along with pervasive corruption, and in so doing, betrayed their Oath to uphold the Constitution, to defend it against all enemies domestic and foreign. Beyond the rank of Major, promotion in the US military-industrial-congressional complex appears to be strongly associated with ones aptitude for living the lie.