Michael Hastings, the 33-year-old journalist with Rolling Stone magazine who died three days ago while driving a car that exploded on a Hollywood street in the street in the early morning hours, was a young, controversial figure in reporting government and military wrong-doing.
Just hours before the incident that took his life, Hasting had spoken to a Wikileaks lawyer and had complained that the FBI had him under investigation.
But the L.A. Field Office spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told the Burlington Free Press that “At no time was journalist Michael Hastings ever under investigation by the FBI”.
Hastings had a prominent role in the bring down of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and was set to release an article exposing the Central Intelligence Agency, according to L.A. Weekly.
Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars.com in London, has the report.
Authorities and media outlets have predictably moved to dismiss claims that Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings – who complained of being under investigation by the FBI before his death in a fiery car crash on Tuesday – was murdered as a result of foul play, despite the vehicle’s engine being found 100 feet away from the scene of the blaze. CNN investigates the crash.
After Wikileaks reported that Hastings had contacted them in the hours before his death complaining about being under investigation by the FBI, the federal agency denied the claim.
“At no time was journalist Michael Hastings ever under investigation by the FBI,” L.A. Field Office spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told the Burlington Free Press.
However, it would be naive to take the FBI at its word. This is an organization whose agents recently shot an unarmed man six times in the head before lying in claiming Ibragim Todashev, friend of accused Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnev, had lunged at them with a weapon – an explanation later admitted to be false.
The FBI is also an organization that claims every single instance of its agents shooting people over the last 20 years was “justified”.
“Between 1993 and early 2011 FBI agents fatally shot 70 people and wounded approximately 80 others. In no incident, including one that led to a $1.3 million payout for a victim wrongfully identified as a bank robber, was an agent wrong to fire their weapon,” reports RT.
Hastings’ body was identified by the Los Angeles coroner’s office, which announced there were no signs of foul play, by matching fingerprints to prints the FBI had on file, indicating that Hastings must have had some involvement with the federal agency. “It sounded like a bomb went off in the middle of the night. My house shook. The windows were rattling,” said one resident who heard the crash.
According to Hastings’ colleague Cenk Uygur, the writer was, “incredibly tense and very worried, and was concerned that the government was looking in on his material,” and also a “nervous wreck” in response to the surveillance of journalists revealed by the AP phone tapping scandal and the NSA PRISM scandal.
BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith added that Hastings had told friends and family “he was concerned that he was under investigation.”
Another close friend who wishes to remain anonymous said that Hastings was “very paranoid that he was being watched by the FBI.”
Following his role in bringing down Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, Hastings was told by a McChrystal staffer, “We’ll hunt you down and kill you if we don’t like what you write.” The Rolling Stone journalist also “had the Central Intelligence Agency in his sights” and was set to release an article exposing the agency, according to L.A. Weekly.
Despite the fact that investigating whether or not a journalist who had made a number of enemies at the very top of the power structure could have been the target of an assassination is a perfectly legitimate question, news outlets have characterized such inquiry as being insensitive and crass.
An example of this is The Week’s Marc Ambinder, who labels such talk as distasteful “trutherism,” despite acknowledging that Hastings’ death was “unusual”.
“Cars don’t often crash and burst into flames. Especially not cars that are new and well-made, not Mercedes, and especially not cars that are designed to eject their engine blocks when a major compression is detected. So the fact that Hastings’ car burst into the flames on impact is unusual. But it is not impossible. It happens,” writes Ambinder.
Opinions are divided on whether or not the details of Hastings’ “accident” are consistent with a modern car crashing at high speed into a tree and exploding into flames. As Hollywood Reporter notes, The fact that, “The crash was so intense that the car’s engine and transmission were found 100 feet from the main wreckage,” has fueled claims that an incendiary device was used.
As one vehicle expert at The Truth About Cars website noted, “I’ve seen dozens of cars hit walls and stuff at high speeds and the number of them that I have observed to eject their power trains and immediately catch massive fire is, um, ah, zero. Modern cars are very good at not catching fire in accidents.”
“As a Mercedes owner, these are the safest cars in the world,” added a Reddit user. “Explosion … fireball, engine [flies] down the block. Not your typical crash.”
However, Philadelphia attorney Max Kennerly, who has represented numerous plaintiffs in car fires, says such occurrences are routine. “If someone is driving at high speed and hits a very solid object, yeah, you’ll get a fire out of that,” he states. “It wouldn’t be an underestimation to say that every day, a lawsuit is filed over a car fire right after an accident. There are every year 300,000 vehicle fires and a couple hundred deaths and a couple thousand injuries.”
During a report into “conspiracy theories” surrounding the writer’s death, CNN reporter Casey Wian noted that Hastings’ “penchant for unvarnished criticism of military authorities” was the main reason why questions were being asked about the accident. Wian also highlights how the transmission being found so far from the car has prompted claims that “the vehicle could have exploded before impact.”
Debunkers of the assassination theory point out that an exploding car is the most obvious form of assassination and that if the authorities really wanted to silence Hastings they would simply have tracked him to his home and done the deed behind closed doors.
However, this argument is countered by the claim that the assassination was deliberately done in public and meant to look suspicious so as to frighten other prominent journalists and whistleblowers who may be considering releasing sensitive information.
Meanwhile, the New York Times came under fire from Hastings’ widow Elise Jordan, who slammed the newspaper for mentioning a Defense Department investigation into Hastings’ claims of wrongdoing on the part of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal which concluded there was “insufficient evidence” of such charges.
“Jordan’s main contention is that not only did the Times misread the Pentagon report, but they did not bother to include Rolling Stone‘s response, which stated that no sources actually contradicted the facts of Hastings’ piece, not to mention it’s not as if any witnesses would voluntarily admit to saying things that would put their careers on the line,” reports Mediaite.
Paul Joseph Watson
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