LOS ANGELES, CA — Award-winning journalist, Michael Hastings, died in a single-car accident, only hours after writing an alarming warning to his colleagues about drawing the attention of federal agencies. It has now been confirmed that among the several big stories he was working on, one of them was about the current director of the CIA.
On June 13, 2013, Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings, 33, wrote the last emails of his life. In a very uncharacteristic message, Hastings emailed several of his close friends and acquaintances a brief and alarming message. He said he was “onto a big story” and needed to “go off the radar,” after the Feds were reportedly interviewing his associates.
Staff Sgt. Joseph Biggs was one of the recipients of the email, a friend of Hastings’ since 2008, when the journalist was embedded in his unit in Afghanistan.
“On Monday morning, I woke up and I got an email, and it’s very panicked,” Biggs told KTLA. “It alarmed me very much,” Biggs said. “I just said it doesn’t seem like him. I don’t know, I just had this gut feeling and it just really bothered me.”
Hastings was so spooked that he contacted a lawyer for the Wikileaks organization for legal counsel. Wikileaks posted to Twitter: “Michael Hastings contacted WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson just a few hours before he died, saying that the FBI was investigating him,” reported the Los Angeles Times.
But the FBI has denied that they were involved with investigating Hastings.
15 hours after writing his alarming messages to his colleagues, Hastings died in a bizarre single-car crash that has left everyone guessing. Driving down a deserted road 1.5 miles from home, Hastings’ Mercedes CLK250 inadvertently veered into a palm tree. The force was so great that the engine ejected from the vehicle and launched more than 100 feet from the impact area. The car burst into a towering inferno.
San Diego 6 reported on July 8 that Highland Avenue, on which Hastings died, was a straight 4-lane road. The car made an abrupt 60-degree turn into a tree, and there were no skid-marks. Also noted was the question of how a Mercedes could explode into intense flames without assistance.
Journalist Kim Dvorak says that in seeking insights from the first responders, they all refused to comment, and some of them said that “they were told not to comment on this story.”
To complicate matters, the grief-stricken family was delivered Hastings’ body in an urn — cremated without their permission. This effectively destroyed any possibility of an independent autopsy. Hastings’ wife has hired a private investigator, reported San Diego 6.
The LAPD was quick to rule out foul-play, but skeptics are not so certain. Some speculate that given the sensitive nature of Hastings’ work, his panicked email messages, and the unexplained circumstances of his death, that other possibilities should be investigated.
It has been proven that modern computer-driven cars can be “hacked” remotely, as early as 2011 as reported by the New York Times. Forbes journalist Andy Greenberg participated in the demonstration of this with two DARPA researchers in July. Using a laptop, hackers demonstrated their ability to take total control of a vehicle. They could jerk the wheel, slam on the brakes, tighten the seatbelt, forge speedometer readouts, disable the brakes, disable the headlights, and more. A car ‘accident’ could easily be created by powerful people with something to lose.
So what was Hastings investigating? Well, he considered his latest story to be so sensitive that he could not tell his family about it for fear for their safety, reported Kim Dvorak on July 14. “He did not even want to tell his wife about this because he said he wanted to protect her from knowing anything, so that if anything were to happen to him, nothing could happen to her,” said Dvorak.
Hastings was best known for a 2010 Rolling Stone article that led to the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was the former U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan. Recent reports reveal that his daring penchant for investigating high-level government officials continued until his death.
One of the scandals he was uncovering involved details of a woman named Jill Kelley. Kelley filed a lawsuit against the federal government over privacy violations. She may have been spied in an attempt to publicly discredit her after she exposed former CIA director David Petraeus’ extra-marital affair with Paula Broadwell, reported the Los Angeles Times on June 20.
But a bigger scandal that Hastings was uncovering involved the current CIA director, John Brennan. San Diego 6 reports receiving an “alarming email” hacked from super secret CIA contractor Stratfor’s President Fred Burton. The email was posted on WikiLeaks and alleged that John Brennan, while in his previous role as Obama’s Counter-Terrorism Czar, was in charge of the government’s continued crackdown or witch-hunt on investigative journalists. The CIA denied the claims in lightning speed, according to Kim Dvorak.
A number of questions remain about the untimely death of Michael Hastings. There have been several FOIA requests filed to expose details within Hastings’ notes, as well as requests with federal agencies regarding details of the car “accident.” A final mystery, points out San Diego 6, is the report of an employee of a nearby shop saying that he witnessed an explosion before the car hit the tree.
A surveillance video of the crash is available here: