Theodore S. Westhusing

Colonel Theodore S. Westhusing (December 17, 1960June 5, 2005), a West Point professor of English and Philosophy, volunteered to serve in Iraq in late 2004 and died in Baghdad from a single 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.

Civilian career

In 2003, he wrote a dissertation in philosophy at Emory University in Atlanta, "The competitive and cooperative aretai within the American warfighting ethos". The dissertation explores "an ideal functional description of the American warrior [which] makes heavy demands of the warrior's entire being in supporting and defending the United States Constitution to which he has sworn his allegiance. He held degrees and majored in Russian, Philosophy and Military Strategy.

Iraq deployment

Westhusing served with what the U.S. Department of Defense calls the "Multi-national Security Transition Command - Iraq". His primary duty was to oversee the training of Iraqis for civilian police duty, in collaboration with USIS, a private military company. In mid-May 2005 he received an anonymous letter alleging fraud, waste and abuse by USIS. He also witnessed many of the following charges as well. The accusations included the following:

  • forged employees' résumés claiming special forces background
  • inadequate skills and competence of trainers
  • insufficient numbers of trainers in order to maximize profits
  • disappearance of large quantities of weapons and radios
  • employees boasting of killing Iraqis

Although Westhusing initially wrote to his commander, only seven days before his death, that the allegations in the letter were false, many have determined that he was forced to provide the letter to his commanding officers, Gen. Petraeus/Fil, by their order to keep his position and his commanding officers and USIS's - the contractor's cover on their activities. According to documentation, Colonel Westhusing then decided to go forward with the allegations about the illegalities to his commanders and the contractors, regardless of the consequences and confront again the injustices to have these allegations exposed. Thus this decision led to the subsequent, final confrontation and his untimely death. There is evidence that something happened in those remaining seven days that caused him to turn angrily upon the contractors, referring to them with intense disgust as "money grubbing". His anger soon extended to his own commanders for taking no action on his recommendations to bring honesty and efficiency to the Army's training of Iraqis, with particular reference to USIS' role in that training. These commanders included the current Commander of Multinational Force - Iraq, 4-star General David Petraeus (then a 3-star General in charge of U.S. operations in northern Iraq).

Colonel Westhusing died at Camp Dublin outside Baghdad, Iraq in June 2005, leaving a note saying, “I cannot support a mission that leads to corruption, human rights abuses and liars.”

Westhusing, who was left-handed, was found in his trailer with a gunshot wound behind his left ear from his own 9mm Beretta service pistol on June 5, 2005, a month and three days before his tour of duty was to end. He had a heated and confrontational meeting with General Petraeus and General Fil that morning concerning these issues with USIS. A DOD Army report/investigation also stated that an administrator near his trailer had heard a very loud argument in Colonel Westhusing's office trailor before he was found dead by the contractor. Approximately a hour later after this argument and the earlier meeting with Gen. Petraues/Fil and the USIS contractors that morning, he was found by a contractor from the USIS group who then altered the crime/death scene before reporting it. A note was found at his side in which he wrote, in addition to a short explanation, "I am sullied - no more". Three of the numbered seven pages of the document by his side were not disclosed in the investigation.

Controversy surrounding his death

The New York Times/Los Angeles Times reporter T. Christian Miller and others have reported (without evidence) on the possibility that he was murdered by defense contractors who feared he would become a whistle-blower against their alleged fraudulent activity throughout the Iraq War.


Westhusing's funeral service and burial at West Point were attended by General Petraeus (who returned from Iraq for the event) as well as three other generals of two stars or more.

Dramatized accounts

The controversy of Westhusing's death is depicted in the one act play "Duty, Honor, Profit," written by Westhusing's West Point classmate, Dave Tucker, a Seattle playwright.


External links

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