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A Death Reconsidered Was Col. Ted Westhusing’s death in Iraq something more sinister than suicide? By ROBERT BRYCE ince last March, when I wrote a story about the apparent suicide of Col. Ted Westhusing in Iraq, I had believed there was nothing else to write about his tragic death. But in December, I talked to a source in the Department of Defense who met Westhusing in Iraq about three months before his death. The source, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, was investigating claims of wrongdoing against military contractors working in Iraq. After a short introduction, I asked him what he thought had happened to Westhusing. “I think he was killed. I honestly do. I think he was murdered:’ the source told me. “Maybe DOD didn’t have enough evidence to call it murder, so they called it suicide.” I contacted the source through Larry C. Johnson, a former employee of the CIA who specializes in terrorism and security issues, and who writes the “No Quarter USA” blog. Johnson and other bloggers have written extensively about Westhusing’s death. Two other factors led me to look into the story again: First, some members of Westhusing’s familyin particular his mother, Terry Clarkrefuse to believe that the career Army officer, who was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head at Camp Dublin on June 5, 2005, took his own life. Second, the curiosities about Westhusing’s death are getting attention on Capitol Hill. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by California Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman, has interviewed members of Westhusing’s family and some of the investigators who met with Westhusing in Iraq in 2005. A spokesperson for the committee confirmed that it is “looking into the matter.” There are many reasons why Westhusing’s story has attracted the highest-ranking American soldier to die in Iraq. His rsum was stellar. Born in Dallas, he went to grade school in La Porte and later attended high school in Jenks, Oklahoma, where he was a National Merit Scholar. From there he went to West Point. As an underclassman, he was his company’s honor representative on the cadet committee. In 1983, during his senior year, he was selected as the honor captain for the whole school, a position that made him the highest-ranking ethics official in the cadet corps. He graduated third in his class. He went to Ranger and Airborne schools and did stints in Italy, South Korea, and Honduras. He learned to speak Russian and Italian. He earned a doctorate in philosophy and was one of the Army’s foremost experts on military ethics. Before volunteering to go to Iraq, he was a professor at West Point. Aside from his pedigree, Westhusing was also close to the 14 THE TEXAS OBSERVER FEBRUARY 8, 2008 Col. Ted Westhusing on duty in Iraq Photo courtesy of Terry Clark seat of power. When he was in Iraq, Westhusing worked for one of the most famous generals in the U.S. military, David Petraeus, who at the time was head of the Multi-National Security Transition CommandIraq. Petraeus has since gained the commander of all U.S. forces in Iraq. Westhusing’s job in Iraq was to oversee the training of Iraqi security forces. As part of that effort, he was also charged with overseeing the work of military contractors. The ongoing stench of corruption from various military contractors has led to numerous investigations and indictments. It has also fueled suspicions that Westhusing met with foul play. Adding yet more curiosity to the story is that when Westhusing died, he had only about a month left before his tour of duty in Iraq was scheduled to end. All of those factors have stoked interest in the story. Last June, I posted a number of documents on my Web site that I had obtained from the Defense Department under the Freedom of Information Act. Within 24 hours, those documents had been downloaded about 8,000 times. In August, Newsweek ran a story about the tens of thousands of U.S.-purchased firearms that have disappeared in Iraq. The story includes several paragraphs about Westhusing’s role as a lead trainer of Iraq’s counterterrorism forces and notes that the arms transfers to Iraqi forces began while Westhusing was working under Petraeus. Before going further, let’s be clear that the available evidence generally supports the military’s finding that Westhusing’s death was a suicide. As I wrote in my earlier story on Westhusing, \(“I withdrawn and exhibited signs of depression in the weeks before his death. His e-mails back to his family in the U.S. reflected his increasing worries and frustration with his situation. In one