With the Pentagon's inspector general set to arrive in Iraq in a few weeks to personally investigate allegations of corruption in, among other places, the training of Iraqi security forces, it's worth remembering that suspicions of wrongdoing in the command led one officer to take his own life out of apparent shame. In a suicide note left on his bed in Baghdad, Lt. Colonel Ted Westhusing wrote, "I didn't volunteer to support corrupt, money grubbing contractors, nor work for commanders only interested in themselves." Westhusing, 44, killed himself on June 5, 2005.
Much about Westhusing's case remains a mystery. According to a definitive Los Angeles Times exploration of his death published in November 2005, the committed Christian and West Point graduate began working for the training command, known as MNTSC-I, in January of 2005. General David Petraeus, who now leads U.S. forces in Iraq, commanded MNTSC-I in 2004 and 2005. Westhusing's primary responsibility was to oversee a private company, USIS, which held a $79 million contract to train Iraqi special forces, and Petraeus told him he had exceeded "lofty expectations."
In May, however, someone -- apparently a USIS contractor -- slipped him an anonymous four-page letter contending widespread corruption within the company and the command. Journalist Robert Bryce obtained the letter (pdf) earlier this year for a piece in the Texas Observer:
Recently I was told that USIS... is only missing 4 weapons. Now, we just spent the last 9 months with almost 200 weapons missing so I wondered how we went from 200 to 4. The missing weapons are common knowledge within the camp and no one seems to be trying to hide it. The take on it is that the Iraqis are stealing them and it is not our problem. This is not true. A lot of weapons were signed out by instructors and never returned. ...
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Our Log guys have lost total control over what is issued. If you try to match up what USIS is charging the government, the inventory on camp and what has been issued to Iraqis it will not even be close.