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18 July 2013: Based on my research as a professionally licensed investigator with nearly 30 years of experience, I wish to be on record that it is my professional opinion that investigative journalist Michael Hastings was murdered. It was exactly one month ago today, on June 18, 2013 that Hastings, 33, was killed in a single vehicle crash in the darkest hours of the night on a deserted Los Angeles city street. According to official reports, Mr. Hastings was the driver and sole occupant of a 2013 model CLK250 Mercedes Benz traveling south on Highland Avenue at a high rate of speed when he reportedly struck a palm tree located in the median on Highland Avenue, near the intersection of Melrose, at 4:20 a.m. Pacific Time. Also according to official reports, Mr. Hastings’ vehicle burst into flames upon impact, incinerating the vehicle and everything inside, including his body.
Michael Hastings was a correspondent for Newsweek and extensively covered the war in Iraq. He was also a reporter for BuzzFeed and a contributing editor to Rolling Stone Magazine. It was in 2010 when he gained widespread attention for his profile of General Stanley McChrystal, then-commander of NATO’s security force in Afghanistan, in a revealing report titled “The Runaway General.” It was this report that led to the general’s resignation for his contemptuous remarks about Barack Hussein Obama and Joseph Biden.
Although Mr. Hastings became well known for that article and reportedly received at least one credible death threat as a result, I do not believe that it was his previous work that led to his tragic and untimely death. The following will explain why.
Collaborative effort revealed
For the first time, I can publicly reveal that I’ve been working with a very experienced and well-respected professional investigator based in Los Angeles and licensed by the state of California. We began our collaboration on Friday, June 21, 2013 - about 72 hours after Mr. Hastings’ death. Since then, we’ve spent about 44 collective man-hours investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash that took the life of Mr. Hastings.
As our investigation is continuing and to avoid potentially compromising our continued efforts, we agreed that revealing his identity at this time would not be in the best interests of this investigation or for the security of those involved. After a review of findings to date, however, we agreed that an interim investigative report should be published.
Although this investigation has been a collaborative effort and we agree on the findings my Los Angeles based colleague requested complete anonymity, including interim references to any individual or collective analysis of findings. Therefore, the statements made in this report will be made in the first-person singular, with this writer presenting the findings as the public point of contact.
Summary of interim investigative findings
Based on careful analysis of the findings of all research and investigation conducted to date, it is my professional belief that investigative journalist Michael Hastings was murdered. This assertion is made based on extensive analysis of the crash site (in person, on-site analysis as well as a review of the photographic documentation taken at the time of the incident that exists both in and outside of public purview), statements made by associates of Mr. Hastings, and a number of other factors relating to the official investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, the coroner’s office, and other agencies and departments involved in the official investigation.
Associated with the above and contrary to public statements, it appears that the FBI, including but not limited to the U.S. Department of Justice might have played a role in directing parts of the official LAPD investigation. There is also an indication that the Department of Justice possibly sought and subsequently obtained certain records produced by the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Fire Department, as well as documentation produced by the coroner’s office.
Additionally, it is my professional opinion that his death was the direct result of research being conducted by Mr. Hastings concurrent with or at the time of his death. While there have been references made to at least one credible death threat related to his 2010 report pertaining to General Stanley McChrystal, nothing was found to suggest any direct connection between that threat or subject and his death.
According to most recent investigative findings, it appears that Mr. Hastings made multiple contacts with sources directly associated with the illegal NSA domestic spying program, and either recently acquired materials and/or information about the extent of, the targets of, and the recipients of the information of domestic spying program. It is speculated that the latter information was of particular concern to as yet unidentified individuals holding positions of authority within the U.S. Department of Defense and their subcontractors, as well as certain parties within the Executive branch of the United States government. Investigation and research suggests that Mr. Hastings might have obtained, or arranged to obtain information pertaining to the role of a particular high-ranking officer within the U.S. military overseeing the domestic aspects of the NSA project.
Additionally and relevant to the circumstances surrounding his death, I believe that Michael Hastings knew, or had reason to know, that he was under both investigation and surveillance of the FBI as well as the NSA at the time of his death. According to information provided to this investigator, at least two agents reportedly representing the FBI contacted an associate of Michael Hastings for information related to his current and recent activities sometime between June 3rd-7th 2013.
These allegations appear to be substantiated by the following e-mail sent by Michael Hastings to two or more of his known associates immediately before his death (note: E-mail headers have been removed):
Subject: FBI Investigation, re: NSA
Hey [Name redacted] — the Feds are interviewing my “close friends and associates.” 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.
Also: I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the rada (sic) for a bit.
All the best, and hope to see you all soon.
It is important to note that following the death of Mr. Hastings, Laura Eimiller, FBI spokesperson based in the Los Angeles field office, emphatically denied that Mr. Hastings was under investigation at the time of his death. It must be emphasized that this denial is in direct contradiction to Mr. Hastings’ e-mail.
In addition to the above, research and investigation into the anomalies of the vehicle crash, including but not limited to the debris field and location of the components of Mr. Hastings’ vehicle, the actions of his vehicle immediately preceding impact were reviewed. Based on this review and information obtained from sources within the area of the incident, it is possible that a previously unreferenced vehicle operated by an unknown individual might have played a contributing role in this incident. The general location of that vehicle was positioned well ahead of Mr. Hastings’ vehicle, and is believed to have been stopped near the intersection of Melrose. Investigation into this aspect of the incident is ongoing.
There has been much speculation about the cause of the vehicle fire itself, including its actual cause, its intensity, and burn patterns. While fires sometimes happen as a consequence of or secondary to collisions, analysis of both open source still photographs and video, along with a review of photos not publicly accessible are cause for concern regarding the exact cause of the fire. This matter, along with the post-autopsy disposition of Mr. Hastings’ body (cremation) will be addressed in a follow-up report.
There has also been much speculation related to the location of the vehicle’s engine and drive train following impact. This issue is presently undergoing further analysis based on related but unreleased documentation. Assessment of this aspect of the crash will be made public in a follow-up report.
The lack of skid marks from the vehicle’s tires leading to the area of impact was found to be of significance based on analysis of this scene. This will be also addressed in greater detail in the follow-up report as well.