The death of investigative journalist Michael Hastings has always been viewed with scrutiny — and fear that it was not a typical car accident that claimed his life in 2013. Now, the massive trove of secrets revealed by WikiLeaks may provide more weight to the skepticism.
Hastings, 33, was no stranger to controversial stories, with some of his most sensational work including bringing down US Army General Stanley McChrystal, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, in a profile that was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine — and the revelation that Bowe Bergdahl had abandoned his post in Afghanistan.
His work on the Bergdahl story was on the radar of the FBI, according to a heavily redacted 22-page document obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed on the day of Hastings’ death by journalists Jason Leopold and Ryan Shapiro.
It was later revealed by his widow Elise Jordan that he was working on a profile of CIA Director John Brennan at the time of his death.
The morning of his death, Hastings went to his neighbor Jordanna Thigpen and asked to borrow her car, in fear that his own had been tampered with, USA Today reported. She declined to let him borrow it, citing mechanical problems.
Hours later, Hastings’ car would burst into flames after ramming into a tree on a Los Angeles street — at 100 mph. His body was so badly burned that it was only identifiable by matching his fingerprints to what the FBI had on file.
Witnesses to the crash reported that they had seen the car’s engine fly 50 to 60 yards from the scene of the impact.It was also revealed that Hastings had emailed colleagues just prior to his death, saying that he was working on a “big story” and needed to “go off the radar.”
Hours before the crash, he also contacted a lawyer from WikiLeaks.
Michael Hastings contacted WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson just a few hours before he died, saying that the FBI was investigating him.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 19, 2013
“Michael Hastings contacted WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson just a few hours before he died, saying that the FBI was investigating him,” Wikileaks tweeted after his death was announced.
On Tuesday, the Wikileaks revelations shined a light on the CIA looking into their abilities to “infect” vehicle control systems in cars and trucks in 2014, one year after Hasting’s death, though their reasoning for needing to do so is unspecified.
“The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations,” Zero Hedge notes.
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) March 7, 2017
Those following the case had long openly wondered if Hastings’ vehicle had no longer been under his control.
Former US National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard A. Clarke said at the time that what was made public about the crash was “consistent with a car cyber attack”.
“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,” Clarke had stated.
In Hastings’ book “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan,” he wrote about receiving death threats for his work. “We’ll hunt you down and kill you if we don’t like what you write,” a staffer for McChrystal had allegedly told him.
Hastings added, “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.”
Two days after the crash, the Los Angeles Police Department declared that there was no sign of foul play in his death. A sign asserting that “this was not an accident,” was left on the tree where he died.
While many friends of the journalist have raised questions, Hastings’ widow has long maintained that she does not believe that there was foul play involved in his death.
Vice revealed a shocking video in 2014 on how to successfully hack a car was Michael Hastings assassinated as many suspect?