Suicide Problem in Iraq

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Suicide Problem in Iraq

Postby JD » Mon Jan 16, 2006 3:58 pm

Interesting. I wonder if there might be more than demoralization going on wrt the suicide problem in Iraq?<br><br>[q]Military psychiatrists are puzzled by the suicide rate in Iraq, saying that it makes little sense in comparison with those in past conflicts. The accepted wisdom in military psychiatry is that the level of suicides--- far from increasing during wars --- drops as the survival instinct kicks in among the personnel in the conflict zone. Just two suicides were recorded among US personnel during the entire Gulf war in the Nineties.[q\]<br><br>Questions Still Cloud Col Westhusing's 'Suicide' In Iraq<br> <br>By Wayne Madsen<br>1-15-6<br><br>Serious questions remain concerning Col. Westhusing's "suicide" in Iraq. Army's chief ethics expert was murdered, according to Carlyle Group insider. <br> <br>According an informed source within The Carlyle Group business consortium, Col. Ted Westhusing, the Army's top military ethicist and professor at West Point, did not commit suicide in a Baghdad trailer in June 2005 as was widely reported in the mainstream media five months later. At the time of his death, Westhusing was investigating contract violations and human rights abuses by US Investigations Services (USIS), formerly a federal agency, the Office of Federal Investigations (OFI), which operated under the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). <br> <br>In 1996, OFI, which conducted background investigations for civil service personnel, was privatized. The 700 government employees of OFI became employee-owners as part of USIS. In January 2003, the New York investment firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson, and Stowe, described by a Carlyle insider as a virtual shadow operation for The Carlyle Group, bought USIS for $545 million. With 5000 current and former employees of USIS sharing $500 million, the deal made them wealthy with the stroke of a pen. However, upper management within USIS became much wealthier than the rank-and-file. Insiders report that the twelve top managers at USIS became multimillionaires as a result of their cashing in of their Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs). Many of these instant millionaires already had a close relationship with The Carlyle Group. <br> <br>Carlyle had been a shareholder in USIS since 1999 and with the buy-out deal via the Welsh, Carson, Anderson, and Stowe deal, Carlyle became the major shareholder. <br> <br>USIS continues to have a virtual exclusivity deal to perform background security investigations for OPM. The company bills itself as "one of the largest Intelligence and Security Services companies in North America." <br> <br>With the Iraq invasion, USIS obtained lucrative Pentagon private security contracts in Iraq. At a 2004 job fair in Falls Church, Virginia, USIS was advertising for "interrogators" and "protection specialists" for "overseas assignments." While he was in Iraq training Iraqi police and overseeing the USIS contract to train police as part of the Pentagon's Civilian Police Assistance Training Team, Westhusing received an anonymous letter that reported USIS's Private Services Division (PSD) was engaged in fraudulent activities in Iraq, including over-billing the government. In addition, the letter reported that USIS security personnel had murdered innocent Iraqis. After demanding answers from USIS, Westhusing reported the problems up the chain of command. After an "investigation," the Army found no evidence of wrongdoing by USIS. <br> <br>That decision signed Col. Westhusing's death sentence. USIS and Carlyle have powerful allies in the administration, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the Princeton roommate of Carlyle Chairman Emeritus and former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci. Former President George H. W. Bush, former Secretary of State James Baker, and former British Prime Minister John Major are Carlyle international advisers. George W. Bush was formerly employed by a Carlyle subsidiary and the Bin Laden business cartel was a one-time investor in the firm. <br> <br>Westhusing, who, according to friends and colleagues, showed no signs of depression, left a suicide note the Army concluded was in his handwriting. However, Westhusing's family and friends have thrown cold water on the Army's investigation. <br> <br> <br> <br>Col. Ted Westhusing: Chalk up another victim of the Bush crime family <br> <br>WMR can report that based on information obtained from Carlyle insiders, Col. Westhusing's death was not caused by suicide. The fact that Westhusing was investigating one of the most politically and financially powerful firms in the world resulted in higher-ups wanting him out of the way. According to the Los Angeles Times, all of the witnesses who claimed Westhusing shot himself were USIS employees. In addition, a USIS manager interfered with the crime scene, including handling Westhusing's service revolver. The USIS manager was not tested for gunpowder residue on his hands. <br> <br>Westhusing's investigation threatened to unearth a network of fraudsters looting the US Treasury that included the Bush family and some of their closest financial partners. After Westhusing's murder, USIS management sent a vaguely-worded memo to employees about how to respond to derogatory information in the media or rumors about USIS. Management's attention, described as "psychotic" in nature, was on USIS's upcoming IPO (initial public offering), according to a well-placed source. <br> <br>USIS also owns Total Information Services of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a commercial personal data mining operation.<br><br>$$$$$$$$$$$$$$<br><br>"I Am Sullied"<br><br>Suicide Before Dishonor in Occupied Iraq<br><br>By GARY LEUPP<br>I cannot support a mission that leads to corruption, human rights abuse, and liars. I am sullied. I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored. Death before being dishonored any more. <br><br>Having written a last note, and placed it by his bed in his trailer on a U.S. military base near Baghdad, on the afternoon of June 5, 2005 Colonel Ted S. Westhusing put his 9-mm. service pistol to his head and blew his brains out. He was 44, survived by a wife and three young children.<br><br>Quite a number of U.S. troops have committed suicide in Iraq, or upon return home. According to the Washington Times, 24 soldiers' deaths in Iraq were ruled suicides in 2003, nine in 2004. But the Washington Post reports that "Thirty-one Marines committed suicide in 2004, all of them enlisted men, not commissioned officers. The majority were younger than 25 and took their lives with gunshot wounds, according to Marine statistics."<br>How many committed suicide in Iraq it does not say. But war experience is surely linked to the incidence of suicides by veterans who bring the war back with them. Between March 2004 and August 2005 three Special Forces Iraq veterans took their lives after their homecomings.There were a rash of reports about this issue in late 2003-early 2004, but it tapered off and I find no cumulative 2005 statistics about military suicides on line.<br><br>In any case. the level has caused official concern and consternation. According to the Post (Feb. 25, 2005):<br>Military psychiatrists are puzzled by the suicide rate in Iraq, saying that it makes little sense in comparison with those in past conflicts. The accepted wisdom in military psychiatry is that the level of suicides--- far from increasing during wars --- drops as the survival instinct kicks in among the personnel in the conflict zone. Just two suicides were recorded among US personnel during the entire Gulf war in the Nineties. What is also unusual about the rate in Iraq, in comparison with Vietnam, Korea and the Second World War, is that everyone serving in the all-volunteer forces has already been screened for their psychological suitability. They have also been briefed on combat stress and trained to counter any suicidal feelings, following a rash of military suicides which embarrassed the Pentagon in the late Nineties.<br><br>Puzzling indeed, then, that an officer pretty much removed from the combat zone, an enthusiastic career man and devout Catholic, would off himself as he apparently did last June.<br><br>Or maybe not so puzzling. What's special about this case is that Westhusing was a specialist on ethics, a West Point graduate who had taken seriously its code that "a cadet will not lie, cheat or steal - or tolerate those who do," who had received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Emory University for a dissertation on the meaning of honor, and returned to West Point to teach philosophy and English. He didn't kill himself because of battle stress or feelings of guilt following his role in a specific firefight. Looks like he put a bullet through his head because he felt the mission itself-the war---was dishonorable.<br><br>I don't mean to idealize him. Anyone receiving special forces training, serving in Honduras in the 1980s, and becoming a division operations officer for the 82nd Airborne, based at Ft. Bragg, N.C., has to have some major ethical baggage as far as I'm concerned. I think he should have realized before volunteering for duty in Iraq in the fall of 2004 that the mission involved corruption, human rights abuses and lying. On the other hand one must admire his capacity for moral indignation once he saw for himself what was going on.<br><br>Westhusing's assignment in Iraq was to oversee the Virginia-based USIS, a contracted security company paid $79 million to train Iraqi police in special operations. He became aware of charges that USIS had cheated on its contract, providing fewer trainers than agreed upon to enhance its profit margin. It had, he was informed, covered up the killings of two Iraqi civilians and the illegal involvement of USIS personnel in the assault on Fallujah. He reported these charges, but felt troubled both by his friendly relations with the USIS management (although he wrote to his family that he "disliked" them and felt "they were paid too much money by the government") and the failure of investigators to find fault with them.<br><br>T. Christian Miller, who has researched this story for the Los Angeles Times, and has had access to Westhusing's emails to his family, described the officer's mindset at the time of his death to NPR:<br><br>What worries him most, clearly, is his feeling that profit has overtaken military values like duty honor and county in Iraq. In the final note he leaves in these emails home and these conversations with his friends, he talks about "I didn't come here to be surrounded by greedy contractors. I didn't come her to be a part of a mission that's being corrupted by concerns of money." Things like that.<br><br>Miller adds:<br><br>For me in some ways it becomes a metaphor for the way that the Iraq War has been fought, which is to outsource a lot of what's been done to private companies so that rather than having idealistic soldiers or young bureaucrats or whatever doing the work in Iraq, you have people doing them for motives that aren't altruistic and pure but for the bottom line.<br><br>That is to say, the colonel was just too pure to deal with this corrupt corporate world.<br><br>In his LA Times piece Miller cites a military psychologist, Lt. Col. Lisa Breitenbach, who avers in Miller's paraphrase that "Westhusing had placed too much pressure on himself to succeed and that he was unusually rigid in his thinking. Westhusing struggled with the idea that monetary values could outweigh moral ones in war." He quotes her directly: "Despite his intelligence, his ability to grasp the idea that profit is an important goal for people working in the private sector was surprisingly limited. He could not shift his mind-set from the military notion of completing a mission irrespective of cost, nor could he change his belief that doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do should be the sole motivator for businesses."<br><br>In other words, in the military shrink's best judgment, the deceased ought to have flexibly accepted the fact that "doing the right thing" should not be the sole motivator for business! He should not have been so bummed about the corporate corruption, abuses and lies that flourish so much in today's Iraq. He shouldn't have taken the academy code so seriously or had such a limited grasp of the importance of profit to the private sector in liberated Iraq. Surely that slipping grasp explains the psychological instability that led him---"despite his intelligence"---to take his life.<br><br>Such explanations take the puzzling and pathologize it. But that seems unfair to the deceased. In his dissertation, Westhusing writes he was "born to be a warrior" which makes me think of the Japanese samurai whom I've studied in some detail. In Japanese martial society, up until the nineteenth century anyway, those born to be warriors maintained a long tradition of honorable suicide. A samurai would take his destiny into his hands and slit his belly for various reasons: to avoid capture, to follow his lord in death, to force an erring superior to reflect and change his ways. Samurai who had committed all but the most egregious crimes were allowed to honorably disembowel themselves rather than face the executioner's axe, crucifixion or other vulgar punishments. Or the samurai shuffled off this mortal coil, usually unbidden, to wipe out a defiling stain on his (or her, there being female samurai) honor. There was nothing nuts about it; it was perfectly rational. When one couldn't go on with honor, one honorably dispatched oneself, buoyed into the beyond by the belief that one's progeny would understand and take pride in the purification.<br><br>"I am sullied. I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored. Death before being dishonored any more."<br><br>Warrior and scholar, tenured professor, loving husband and father, too honorable a man to carry on in his defiling assignment. Maybe not despite his intelligence, as Breitenbach suggests, but because of it.<br><br>May I suggest we honor Col. Westhusing by redoubling our efforts to oppose the lying, cheating and stealing which is the Iraq War? And support the honorable troops dishonorably dispatched to Iraq by urging them to refuse to kill on behalf of that private sector whose morality he came to doubt? And hope that they'll live, looking forward to another world which is really possible---in which profit doesn't overtake duty and honor?<br><br>$$$$$$$$$$$$$<br><br>British Chief Police Investigator in Basra dies under mysterious circumstances<br><br>He was responsible for the investigation into the two Elite SAS men disguised as Arab "terrorists"<br><br>by Michel Chossudovsky<br><br>October 17, 2005<br> <br><br> Email this article to a friend<br> Print this article<br><br>Captain Ken Masters, British chief police investigator in Basra died under mysterious circumstances. The cause of death was not mentioned. According to a Ministry of Defense spokesman, his death was "not due to hostile action" nor to natural causes.<br><br>Ken Masters was Commanding Officer of the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police. He was "responsible for the investigation of all in-theatre serious incidents, plus investigations conducted by the General Police Duties element of the Theatre Investigation Group." (Statement of Britain's Ministry of Defense, 16 Oct 2005).<br><br>In this capacity, Captain Masters was responsible for investigating the circumstances of the arrest of two undercover elite SAS men, wearing Arab clothing, by Iraqi police in Basra. on September 19 (London Times (17 Oct 2005)..<br><br>"The Ministry of Defence refused to reveal details about his [Masters] work but it is believed he was involved in the inquiry into the dramatic rescue of two SAS soldiers held in a prison in Basra." (Daily Mail, 16 Oct 2005)<br><br>The two British undercover "soldiers", who were driving a car loaded with weapons and ammunition, were subsequently "rescued" by British forces, in a major military assault on the building where they were being detained:<br><br>"British forces used up to 10 tanks " supported by helicopters " to smash through the walls of the jail and free the two British servicemen."<br><br>The incident, which resulted in numerous civilian and police casualties has caused political embarrassment.<br>Several media reports and eyewitness accounts suggested that the SAS operatives were disguised as Al Qaeda "terrorists" and were planning to set off the bombs in Basra's central square during a a major religious event.<br><br>On the 14th of October, Britain formally apologized to Iraq and confirmed that it "will pay compensation for injuries and damage caused during the storming by the army of a police station in Basra in the operation to release two SAS soldiers" (The Scotesman, 15 Oct 2005). In the British raid on the prison, 7 Iraqis were killed and 43 were injured .(The Times, op cit)<br>"Compensation to the families of alleged Iraqi victims who died during the fracas depended on the official investigation being carried out by Captain Masters and his team." (ibid)<br><br>Captain Ken Masters died in Basra on the 15th. <br><br>According to the MoD "the circumstances [of his death ] were not regarded as suspicious."<br><br>The reports casually suggested that Masters might have been suffering from "stress", which could have driven him to commit suicide. In the words of a Defense analyst quoted by the BBC:.<br><br>"Capt Masters was part of quite a small outfit and his job would have been quite stressful. It's quite an onerous job..... I think, [there is] quite a lot of stress involved" (BBC, 16 October 2005).<br><br>The Daily Mail (17 Oct 2005), however, tends to dismiss the suicide thesis "Little is known of his private life and it is said to be unlikely that the pressures of work would have led him to commit suicide."<br><br>British statements concerning the "rescue operation"<br><br>The attack on the 19th of September to "rescue" the two SAS men was launched under the command of Brig John Lorimer. In a statement, Lorimer said that the purpose of the raid was to ensure the safety of the two SAS men: .<br><br>"... I had good reason to believe that the lives of the two soldiers were at risk and troops were sent to the area of Basra near the police station to help ensure their safety. ... "Later in the day, however, I became more concerned about the safety of the two soldiers after we received information that they had been handed over to militia elements. As a result I took the difficult decision to order entry to the Jamiat police station. By taking this action we were able to confirm that the soldiers were no longer being held by the IPS. An operation was then mounted to rescue them from a house in Basra."<br><br>(The Times, 20 Oct 2005 <!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href=",,7374-1788850,00.html">,00.html</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--> )<br><br>Ironically, Brig Lorimer's account was challenged by the US appointed interim government. Iraqi interior minister Baqir Solagh Jabr, in an interview with the BBC "denied that the Iraqi police had handed over the SAS men to the local militias, as Brigadier Lorimer had stated....'That is not right, totally not right,' he said. He accused Brigadier Lorimer of reacting to 'rumour' when he ordered his men to storm the police station and said that the building where the SAS men had been found was actually part of the police station" ( The Independent, 12 Oct 2005).<br><br>In a subsequent declaration, Lorimer said that the police in Basra were involved in terrorism, and were being supported by Iran (This alleged link to Iran is now denied by British Defense officials).<br><br>Lorimer also said that that the two arrested undercover SAS men had been investigating torture and abuse within the prison: The SAS men had been "given the task of trying to establish who was behind the reign of terror at the jail" (quoted in the Daily Telegraph, 16 Oct 2005). According to Lorimer the prison was a "very nasty place". (Ibid)<br><br>The Investigation<br><br>The citizens of Basra witnessed the arrest. Civilians were killed and inhured when British forces under the command of Brig Lorimer led the military assault on the prison. Al Jazeera reported the circumstances of the arrest in an interview with Fattah al-Shaykh, member of the Iraqi National Assembly:<br><br>If you really want to look for truth, then we should resort to the Iraqi justice away from the British provocations against the sons of Basra, particularly what happened today when the sons of Basra caught two non-Iraqis, who seem to be Britons and were in a car of the Cressida type. It was a booby-trapped car laden with ammunition and was meant to explode in the centre of the city of Basra in the popular market. However, the sons of the city of Basra arrested them. They [the two non-Iraqis] then fired at the people there and killed some of them. The two arrested persons are now at the Intelligence Department in Basra, and they were held by the National Guard force, but the British occupation forces are still surrounding this department in an attempt to absolve them of the crime. (Al Jazeera TV 20 Sept 2005).<br><br>Nobody in Basra believes that the two arrested SAS men were "working undercover against militants linked to Iran":<br><br>"The Iraqi police stopped a car with two foreigners dressed as Arabs, and full of weapons and explosives," he said. "There have been terrorist attacks and explosions in Basra - of course the police wanted to investigate.".... Mr Hakim dismissed as "propaganda" reports that the soldiers were working undercover against militants linked to Iran. Officials in Basra have called for an espionage trial for the two in an Iraqi court. British soldiers' legal immunity "does not apply when they are out of uniform", Mr Hakim said. (Mr. Hakim is a leading official in Iraq's largest Shia Muslim party, quoted in the Financial Times, 29 Sept 2005)<br><br>Was the British military blocking Captain Masters police investigation?<br><br>There were apparent disagreements between British military commanding officers and the military police officials dispatched to the war theater in charge of investigating the actions and behavior of military personnel. (The Independent 17 Oct 2005).<br><br>Was pressure put to bear on Captain Masters by the Ministry of Defense? According to Michael Keefer, the British Army led by Brig Lorimer was determined<br>"to remove these men from any danger of interrogation by their own supposed allies in the government the British are propping up—even when their rescue entailed the destruction of an Iraqi prison and the release of a large number of prisoners, gun-battles with Iraqi police and with Al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia, a large popular mobilization against the British occupying force, and a subsequent withdrawal of any cooperation on the part of the regional government—tends, if anything, to support the view that this episode involved something much darker and more serious than a mere flare-up of bad tempers at a check-point."<br><br>(See Michael Keefer, <!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href=""></a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--> )<br><br>Captain Ken Masters had a mandate to cooperate in his investigations, with the civilian Iraqi authorities. As part of his mandate he was to investigate "into allegations that British soldiers killed or mistreated Iraqi civilians". Specifically in this case, the inquiry pertained to the circumstances of the British assault on the prison on 19 September. The press reports and official statements suggest that the assault on the prison was authorized by the Ministry of Defense.<br><br>General Sir Michael Jackson, Chief of the General Staff was in Basra a few days prior to Captain Masters untimely death to deal explicitly with the matter.<br>While in Basra, he no doubt also had meetings with both Brig Lorimer and Captain Masters. General Jackson has upheld the rescue of the elite SAS men:<br><br>"Let me make it clear that it was important to retrieve those two soldiers." (quoted in the Times, 12 Oct 2005)<br> <p></p><i></i>
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