ON COL. WESTHUSING'S DEATH
I've been getting quite a bit of traffic focused on this post about the death of Col. Westhusing in Iraq. I referred to a report I'd heard on CNN. Here's the transcript of what I heard:
Westhusing's death is listed as non-hostile. That category includes accident, illness, foul play, an act of nature, such as being struck by lightning, or suicide.
Military sources confirm to CNN that family members have been told Westhusing was found with a single gunshot wound. But the Army emphasizes it is conducting a full investigation to determine what happened.
WESTHUSING BROTHER: It just breaks your heart, it really does, that there's such, you know, a great person that had so much capability, so much to offer. It's gone. I'd just like for people to know that he gave everything he had to make a difference.
STARR (on camera): No one can yet say what may have happened to the Colonel Ted Westhusing, but friends and family remember a military career served in peace time and war time with years of honor.
Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
I've been accused of "adding to the confusion" around the cause of Westhusing's death because I said there was an implication in the report that it could have been suicide. Obviously, if he died of a single gunshot wound it could have been inflicted by someone other than himself. But the way Starr framed her last comment, "friends and family remember a military career served in peace time and war time with years of honor," coming as it did directly after the phrase, "No one can yet say what may have happened..." seemed curious to me, and in the nature of a justification.
By all accounts, Col. Westhusing was an extraordinary person and fine American. I was casting no aspersions upon him by reading something into the reporter's tone and the structure of her report. Col. Westhusing's death was ruled as non-combat-related. That category includes accident, illness, foul play, an act of nature, such as being struck by lightning, or suicide. If he died of a gunshot wound, that eliminates everything in that category except murder or suicide. Either is a sorry end for a gallant and courageous officer.