Documents Emerge Two Years After Col. Westhusing's Controversial Suicide in Iraq

By: E&P Staff Two years ago this week, shortly after noon, Iraq time, Col. Ted Westhusing took out a Barretta and put a bullet in his brain in his trailer at an Army camp near Baghdad airport. When he died, he was the highest-ranking American officer to lose his life in the Iraq war.

In a suicide note addressed to his commanders, Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil and Lt. Gen. David Petraeus (and also sharply critical of them) Westhusing wrote: ?I cannot support a msn [mission] that leads to corruption, human right abuses and liars. I am sullied ? no more.?

Now documents from the investigation of Westhusing?s death, and the charges in his suicide note, are available online.

E&P Editor Greg Mitchell has covered the Westhusing case since the autumn of 2005, when a portrait of Westhusing by T. Christian Miller appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Miller revealed that Westhusing, 44, had been deeply troubled by abuses carried out by American contractors in Iraq, including allegations that they had witnessed or even participated in the murder of Iraqis.

His widow, asked by a friend what killed this West Point scholar and ethicist, had replied simply: "Iraq."

Two months ago, Mitchell explored a new article based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that included quotes from Westhusing's suicide note. One of those commanders, of course, is the new leader of the "surge" campaign in Iraq, Gen. Petraeus.

The new article appeared in The Texas Observer, written by contributor Robert Bryce. He referred to a "two-inch stack of documents, obtained over the past 15 months under the Freedom of Information Act, that provides many details of Westhusing?s suicide. The pile includes interviews with Westhusing?s co-workers, diagrams of his sleeping quarters, interviews with his family members, and partially redacted reports from the Army?s Criminal Investigation Command and Inspector General.

"The documents echo the story told by Westhusing?s friends. 'Something he saw [in Iraq] drove him to this,' one Army officer who was close to Westhusing said in an interview. 'The sum of what he saw going on drove him' to take his own life. 'It?s because he believed in duty, honor, country that he?s dead.'"

Now Bryce has put some of the documents up on his Web site, including much of the investigative reports and the transcipt of an official interview with Westhusing?s widow shortly after his death. Michelle Westhusing told investigators: "The one thing I really wish is you guys to go to everyone listed in that letter and speak with them. I think Ted gave his life to let everyone know what was going on. They need to get to the bottom of it, and hope all these bad things get cleaned up.?

The suicide note (not at the site) concludes: ?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. 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."

The documents can be found at


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