MINNEAPOLIS– A little more than four years ago, award-winning journalist Michael Hastings – a vocal critic of the Obama administration – died in a fiery high-speed automobile crash in west Los Angeles. Hastings’ death – at the time – generated suspicion among journalists due to the dubious circumstances surrounding his dramatic death.
Many of the theories surrounding his’ death focused on stories that he was set to publish in the coming months. Hastings gained infamy for his 2010 profile on General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, an award-winning piece that ultimately led to McChrystal being relieved of his command.
Immediately prior to his death, Hastings had published a strong critique of the Obama administration titled “Why Democrats Love to Spy on Americans,” which exposed the party’s hypocrisy regarding some of the civil liberty overreaches they had criticized under Bush but embraced under Obama. San Diego 6 News reported that Hastings had been investigating CIA Director John Brennan for an upcoming exposé prior to the crash.
Hastings’ behavior at the time also aroused suspicion. About 12 hours before his death, Hastings had sent an email to his colleagues that the FBI had been interviewing his “close friends and associates” and told his co-workers ““[It] may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.”
He added, “I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the radar [sic] for a bit.” Hastings’ neighbor had also told the L.A. Times that he had been acting erratically, adding that “he was scared and he wanted to leave town.” Michael Hastings had also contacted WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson just a few hours before he died, saying that the FBI was investigating him.
Several details regarding the crash itself also suggested the possibility that Hastings’ death was the result of foul play, despite official statements to the contrary. For instance, the car caused no damage to the median curb dividing the four-lane road where the crash occurred, nor were there any skid marks present – despite the fact that the car made a sudden 60-degree turn into a palm tree.
In addition, an eyewitness at the scene – a worker at a business located near the site of the crash – told San Diego News 6 that the car was traveling extremely fast and and that explosions could be heard coming from within the vehicle shortly before the crash.
Furthermore, police pointed out that the fire inside the car was unusual due to its intensity, commenting that it resembled a thermite burn. Hastings’ body was so badly burned that it took the coroner two days to identify him, another factor that is atypical for vehicle fires. The LAPD also refused to release accident or toxicology reports, nor did they allow Hastings’ car to be independently inspected, despite their assertion that there was no evidence of foul play.
Watch surveillance camera footage of the Hastings crash:
While the evidence suggesting Hastings was murdered was more than circumstantial, it proved difficult to officially connect his demise to the powerful enemies he had made in government – mainly because the government’s ability to hack vehicles was only considered to be theoretically possible at the time.
The most well-known proponent of this theory was former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counterterrorism Richard A. Clarke, who told the Huffington Post that the crash that killed Hastings was “consistent with a car cyber attack.”
“It’s relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn’t want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn’t want the brakes on, to launch an air bag. You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it’s not that hard,” Clarke said.
However, as Clarke noted, “the problem with [car cyber attacks] is you can’t prove it.”
Hastings Sought To Expose Covert Hacking
Wikileaks has made the possibility of remotely hijacking vehicles for covert assassinations easier to prove, thanks to its recent release of the “largest ever publication of confidential documents” related to the CIA. On Tuesday, Wikileaks released a trove of documents code-named “Vault 7” that contain details regarding the CIA’s global covert hacking program. Within its press release, Wikileaks noted that “as of October 2014, the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.”
While the Wikileaks documents confirm that this technology existed in 2014, there is reason to believe that the CIA was capable of hacking vehicles as far back as the late 1990s. Gordon Duff, senior editor of Veterans Today, wrote in 2010 about what he termed the CIA’s “Boston Brakes” assassination technique.
In the article, Duff noted that the deaths of Chilcot Inquiry witness Richard Waddington, anti-Zionist Austrian politicians Jorg Haider and even Princess Diana all involved car crashes where the vehicle crashed into objects like concrete abutments but left no skid marks – not unlike the Hastings crash. If Hastings really was the victim of CIA vehicle hijacking, it seems unlikely that he was the agency’s first victim of its “undetectable” assassinations.
In addition, some of the other revelations found in “Vault 7” are rumored to be related to the very story Hastings was working on at the time of his death. According to a WhoWhatWhy story published in 2013 – long before “Vault 7” was made public – Hastings, through his connections to imprisoned journalist Barrett Brown, was said to have been working on exposing the CIA’s use of weaponized malware, as well as the agency’s ability to hack smartphones to access the communications of private citizens. Was Hastings killed for investigating the very revelations that Wikileaks has now made public?