Monday, November 28, 2005

Corruption in Iraq Leads to Military Ethicist's Suicide

The LA Times reports on the suspicious death of Col. Ted Westhusing. He volunteered for duty in Iraq leaving his position as a professor at West Point. He was tasked with the duty of overseeing USIS, a private security company linked to The Carlyle Group. The company had contracts worth $79 million to train Iraqi police to conduct special operations. Col. Westhusing was investigating the company for fraud and human rights abuses at the time of his death.

According to the LA Times, "[I]n May, Westhusing received an anonymous four-page letter that contained detailed allegations of wrongdoing by USIS.

The writer accused USIS of deliberately shorting the government on the number of trainers to increase its profit margin. More seriously, the writer detailed two incidents in which USIS contractors allegedly had witnessed or participated in the killing of Iraqis.

A USIS contractor accompanied Iraqi police trainees during the assault on Fallouja last November and later boasted about the number of insurgents he had killed, the letter says. Private security contractors are not allowed to conduct offensive operations.

In a second incident, the letter says, a USIS employee saw Iraqi police trainees kill two innocent Iraqi civilians, then covered it up. A USIS manager 'did not want it reported because he thought it would put his contract at risk.'"


"U.S. officials investigated and found 'no contractual violations,' an Army spokesman said. Bill Winter, a USIS spokesman, said the investigation 'found these allegations to be unfounded.'

However, several U.S. officials said inquiries on USIS were ongoing. One U.S. military official, who, like others, requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said the inquiries had turned up problems, but nothing to support the more serious charges of human rights violations.

'As is typical, there may be a wisp of truth in each of the allegations,' the official said.

The letter shook Westhusing, who felt personally implicated by accusations that he was too friendly with USIS management, according to an e-mail in the report.

'This is a mess … dunno what I will do with this,' he wrote home to his family May 18.

The colonel began to complain to colleagues about 'his dislike of the contractors,' who, he said, 'were paid too much money by the government,' according to one captain.

'The meetings [with contractors] were never easy and always contentious. The contracts were in dispute and always under discussion,' an Army Corps of Engineers official told investigators."

His family and close friends reject the Army's conclusion that Col. Westhusing committed suicide.