This happened nearly a year ago but I only now discovered the news. Sorry.
Do you remember the intrepid reporter who wrote the Rolling Stone cover story on then-commander of NATO’s forces in the war in Afghanistan, the highly-regarded U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal, which directly and singlehandedly led to the general’s resignation?
Michael Hastings was that reporter. His article, “The Runaway General,” in the July 8-22, 2010 issue of the Rolling Stone magazine, contained derisive, critical but accurate remarks by McChrystal and his staff about their commander-in-chief POS Obama, VPOS Joe Biden, and the war in Afghanistan. The article led to McChrystal being summoned to meet with the POS to “explain” himself. Next thing we knew, McChrystal resigned or more likely, was fired. (See my post of June 22, 2010: “Gen. McChrystal Resigns; Fired.”)
Hastings continued to investigate and report on politically incendiary issues, including:
- An article on CIA operative Andrew Warren, who became paranoid that he was being followed.
- Another article for Rolling Stone, “Killer Drones,” on Obama’s drone policy, published in March 2013.
- An article for BuzzFeed, “Why Democrats Love to Spy On Americans,” published on June 7, 2013.
Hastings also became a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s massive surveillance during the investigation of reporters by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2013. He called Obama’s restrictions on the freedom of the press a “war” on journalism.
On June 18, 2013, at about 4:20 am, while in the middle of covering the NSA’s and CIA’s monitoring, Hastings died in a fiery single-car crash when his Mercedes Benz, traveling at reportedly extremely high speed, hit a tree on Hollywood’s Highland Ave. in Los Angeles.
Michael Hastings was only 33 years old.
His body was burnt beyond recognition. The L.A. coroner eventually identified the body as Hastings’ by matching fingerprints with those the FBI had on file. Two days after the crash, the Los Angeles Police Department declared that there were no signs of foul play. The coroner’s report ruled the death to be an accident. An autopsy showed that the cause of death was massive blunt force trauma consistent with a high-speed crash. (Source: Wikipedia)
Hastings’ body was quickly cremated, without his family’s consent.
Beth Stebner reports for New York Daily News, June 19, 2013, that less than a day after Hastings’ death, “conspiracy theorists,” including well-established journalists and news sites, began to speculate there is more than meets the eye in Hastings’ demise:
- The Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald, who broke the original NSA spying story, wrote on Twitter, “Michael Hastings’ final article was on Democrats & the NSA stories.”
- The International Business Times noted that “some of the details surrounding the story [of Hastings’ death] read like a poorly-written political thriller.”
- USA Today reported that in the days before his death, Hastings believed his car was being “tampered with” and that he was scared and wanted to leave town.
- Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke said that what is known about the crash is “consistent with a car cyber attack” and that “There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers—including the United States—know how to remotely seize control of a car. So if there were a cyber attack on [Hastings’] car—and I’m not saying there was, I think whoever did it would probably get away with it.”
Commenters to local news sites also had doubts. Some examples:
- One user wrote on LA Weekly: “Makes you wonder if it was a real accident when you hear CIA?”
- Another said, “Hastings’ wreck might make sense on the freeway, but I doubt he’d be dumb enough to go 100 mph on Highland. He’s not some dumb college kid.”
- A community board on Reddit has already begun delving into possible conspiracy theories, from opinions that the car was either rigged to lose control or burst into flames at a certain time to brake wires being frayed.
- One Reddit user wrote: “A warning to other journalists to not dig too deep. Stick with the party line if you want a long, happy life.”
IBT noted that after Hastings published his book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan, he received a death threat from a former McChrystal staff member.
“We’ll hunt you down and kill you if we don’t like what you write,” the staffer threatened, according to Hastings, who calmly responded: “Well, I get death threats like that about once a year, so no worries. I wasn’t disturbed by the claim. Whenever I’d been reporting around groups of dudes whose job it was to kill people, one of them would usually mention that they were going to kill me.”
Although several car experts said there is no reason to suspect foul play in the crash, including Motor Trend technical director Frank Markus who said the ensuing fire was consistent with a high-speed car crash, according to Wikipedia:
- The day before his death, Hastings had indicated that he believed he was being investigated by the FBI. In an email to colleagues, which was copied to and released by Hastings’ friend, Army Staff Sergeant Joe Biggs, Hastings said that he was “onto a big story”, that he needed to “go off the radar”, and that the FBI might interview them. The FBI denied that Hastings was being investigated.
- WikiLeaks announced that Hastings had also contacted Jennifer Robinson, one of its lawyers, a few hours prior to the crash.
- Hasting’s widow Elise Jordan said his final story was a profile of CIA Director John O. Brennan.
In 2013, Michael Hastings was posthumously awarded the Norman Mailer Prize for Distinguished Journalism.
Thank you, Michael, for your courage and honesty. May you rest in peace.
See also Steve’s post on the many many deaths connected to the Obama White House.
Thanks to a tip from FOTM reader Gingercake, here’s a San Diego 6 news video of Hastings’ fatal car crash, including footage taken by one of the surveillance cameras at Pizzeria Mozza, a well-known pizza restaurant located just a few hundred feet from the site of the crash. The owner of the restaurant, Nancy Silverton, gave the footage to police the day after the accident.
There were 3 explosions. Note that Hastings’ car went dark — signifying the car’s total loss of power — immediately BEFORE the crash and the first explosion.