Just hours before the fiery car crash that took his life, journalist Michael Hastings sent an email to friends and colleagues urging them to get legal counsel if they were approached by federal agents.
“Hey [redacted], the Feds are interviewing my ‘close friends and associates,’” he broadcast in a message dated June 17 at 12:56 p.m. to editors at the website BuzzFeed, where he worked. “Perhaps if the authorities arrive, ‘BuzzFeed GQ’, er HQ, may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.”
Hastings added that he was on to a “big story” and that he would, “need to go off the radar for a bit.” He was a relentless critic of government abuses and was most famous for “The Runaway General,” the Rolling Stone piece that ended the career of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of the Afghanistan war.
A journalist critical of the way the administration was conducting the war and wielding abusive power in Washington, Hastings was intensely focused on government surveillance of journalists. When the story broke in May about the Department of Justice collecting the phone records of Associated Press reporters, Hastings became concerned that they might be tracking his activities. Shortly thereafter the NSA surveillance abuses were revealed by Edward Snowden and Hastings became very concerned about the administration targeting him for his stories.
Hastings’ neighbor and confidant, Jordanna Thigpen, said that he showed up at her house late that night concerned about government surveillance, begging to use her car, convinced that his own Mercedes had been tampered with by government officials. She explained that her car needed repairs, and Hastings reluctantly took his own car to find a location where he could formulate a plan. “He was scared, and he wanted to leave town. Nothing I could say could console him,” Thigpen told reporters.
Mere hours later Hastings’ Mercedes indeed left the road at 75 mph and crashed in an explosive fireball.
Forensic reports now claim that Hastings had drugs in his system at the time of his death, providing authorities an opportunity to discredit his forewarnings as paranoid delusions.
Despite Administration denials of foul play, a clear pattern of shutting up critics and opponents is developing, and average citizens must ask themselves just how ‘Chicago’ this Administration would go (or has gone) to silence those who dare speak out against them.