Why Michael Hastings Wasn’t Murdered

If you’ve ever wanted to see a conspiracy theory birth itself and take flight, look no further than the untimely death of journalist Michael Hastings. The 33 year old author, war correspondent and writer of the Rolling Stone story that lead to the resignation of Afghanistan commander General Stanley McChrystal was killed in a one-car crash in Los Angeles on June 18, 2013.

The “official story” is that Hastings was speeding south down Highland Avenue at 4:15 in the morning. He lost control of the car, possibly because he hit a rise in the road. The car went over the median strip and slammed into a palm tree, causing it to explode. He was killed instantly. These are the findings of the Los Angeles Police Department and the recent report from the County Coroner’s office – and the Hastings family hasn’t disputed them.

I briefly mentioned Hastings in a piece I wrote a few months ago, about the tendency of conspiracy theorists to ascribe “mysterious circumstances” to the death of anyone they see connected to a major event. And this holds true for Hastings’ death as well. There is now a large contingent of well-intentioned, smart people who believe Hastings was murdered by someone of great power, with the crime staged so that it would look like an accident.

The aftermath of the crash. (KTLA)

The aftermath of the crash. (KTLA)

A talented young author with a habit of poking hornet’s nests dying before his time naturally raises suspicions. But I believe a review of the conspiracy theory will show it based on little more than coincidence, misinformation and paranoia – obscuring the real tragedy that took place. A debunking is in order.

Hastings’ Death Was Suspicious – This is true, but only because all car accidents are suspicious. Any time a piece of machinery fails catastrophically, be it an airplane, nuclear reactor, power grid or automobile, something happened that wasn’t supposed to. The Los Angeles Police Department and Coroner’s Officer are tasked with putting those suspicions to rest. They did this, or at least attempted to, with their final report. If one happens to not believe that report, that’s fine. But in the absence of evidence that the report is false, I don’t see any reason not to believe it.

He Emailed His Family the Day of His Death to Say FBI Was Investigating Him – This is also true. Hours before the crash, Hastings sent an email, blind carbon copied to colleagues and friends, saying:

“Hey [redacted] — the feds are interviewing my ‘close friends and associates,’”

[…]

“Also: I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the radat (sic) for a bit.”

The day after Hastings’ death, the official Twitter account for Wikileaks wrote:

“Michael Hastings contacted WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson just a few hours before he died, saying that the FBI was investigating him.”

Clearly Hastings believed he was being looked at by the federal government. Was he? I have no idea. Maybe he was, though the FBI has denied it, and none of these close friends and associates have confirmed they had been interviewed. It’s entirely possible he was being investigated, and just as plausible that he wasn’t. In any case, it’s a long jump from “he was being investigated” to “he was murdered.” Evidence of one is not evidence of the other. This is saying X, therefore Y, and Y doesn’t follow from X in this case.

He Believed His Car Had Been Tampered With – Another truth, at least according to an LA Weekly writer who interviewed his neighbor. Hastings confided to her the day before the accident that he thought “someone” had done something to his car and he was afraid to drive it. But just like the feeling that he was being investigated, the fact that he thought someone tampered with his car does not mean someone did tamper with his car. Only that he thought someone had.

He Was on Drugs at the Time of the Accident – The coroner’s report stated that Hastings had traces of amphetamine (NOT methamphetamine, as has been widely reported) and marijuana in his system, but that it wasn’t enough to be a factor in the crash. Hastings’ past history of drug use was well known, to the point where he’d written about it in a 2008 book, and his family was afraid he’d relapsed. If Hastings had the paranoia and jitters that can accompany both amphetamines and potent marijuana, it would be a plausible explanation for both the feelings he was being investigated and that his car had been tampered with. It could also very well explain the speeding, though we have no way of knowing for sure.

He Was Investigating the CIA When He Died – Another truth, confirmed by multiple sources. Hastings was working on a profile of CIA Director William Brennan for Rolling Stone at the time of his death. Some conspiracy theorists speculate that the CIA “took him out” because he was about to reveal something damaging or embarrassing. However, while Hastings never got to finish his story, someone else did. The Brennan story was completed by Matt Farwell, a friend of Hastings, and is slated for publication later this year. If Hastings were killed to stop it from coming out, would anyone be insane enough to pick it up? And who would take the risk of publishing a story that literally had blood on it?

Hastings was a journalist doing a job, like countless journalists before him. There’s no reason to think that simply writing about the CIA would make him a target for assassination. Journalists who have helped bring down presidents, heads of corporations and powerful figures are still alive and writing. If they haven’t been killed, why Hastings, over a story that’s coming out anyway? Others speculate that the accident was General McChrystal taking revenge on the writer who “brought him down.” But this seems unlikely. McChrystal’s resignation, while embarrassing, has not hindered him from serving on several Boards of Directors, nor of accepting lucrative speaking engagements.

Hastings Was Speeding – The exact rate of speed that Hastings was traveling on Highland Avenue is unclear. Some sources put it at 65 miles per hour, other witnesses claimed he was going 80 or even close to 100. Whatever the rate, it’s clear from security camera footage taken from the restaurant Mozza, other footage of Hastings running a red light (the “Loud Labs footage”), forensic evidence and eyewitness accounts that Hastings was flying down the street when he crashed. The only person reporting anything differently is Kimberly Dvorak, a freelance journalist and blogger for Examiner.com, a loose network of blogs that essentially lets its writers post whatever they want.

Dvorak has been one of the principal architects of the “Michael Hastings was murdered” conspiracy, and has posted a large amount of dubious or outright false information related to the incident, which has been snapped up without thinking by conspiracy mongers and information hungry bloggers. Dvorak posited on her blog for a San Diego TV station that she contacted “a university professor” who used security camera footage to determine that Hastings was going only 35 mph, and therefore not speeding. Dvorak has posted nothing to confirm this, and it’s contradicted by everything else we know about the accident. Indeed, she later removed the bit about the “university professor” from her blog, making it look as if she simply came up with the number out of thin air.

The real question, and the one we’ll most like never be able to answer, is why Hastings was speeding. Where was he going, and why was it so urgent he get there? The only person who knew that answer, unfortunately, can’t tell us.

The Tree Hastings Hit Should Have Been Knocked Down – Not necessarily true. The particular palm tree that Hastings drove into is a Washingtonia robusta, one of the most common in Los Angeles. These trees can grow 100 feet tall, live for over a century and have thick trunks, strong roots and bulging bases. There’s no reason to think a car, even going as fast as Hastings was going, would be able to knock one over. It’s clear from photos that the tree is scorched and dented, and a quick search for images of cars that hit trees shows many cars that plowed into trees which are still standing.

The tree that Hastings hit, with damage and burns clearly visible. (Reuters)

The tree that Hastings hit, with damage and burns clearly visible. (Reuters)

There Was a Flash Before He Crashed/A Bomb Blew the Car Up – One of the most widely-held theories about the crash is that there was a flash before the actual explosion of the car – indicating some sort of bomb going off. The Mozza security camera footage of Hastings’ car speeding down Highland actually catches sight of the fireball. And there does appear to be some kind of brief flash at around the 19 second mark. The most commonly held theory is that this is Hastings tapping his brakes, possibly because he saw he was about to go over the median. It’s also possible that this was sparks from the undercarriage of the car hitting a water pipe.

Absent other footage, it’s hard to tell exactly what this first flash of light is. Could it be a bomb? Possibly. But remember, “I don’t know” does not mean “I do know, and it was a bomb.” The forensic evidence from the crash doesn’t show signs of a bomb, and any bomb powerful enough to send the car’s engine flying over 150 feet would most likely have torn the car to shreds. Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible for it to have been a bomb – but it would have to have been set off with impeccable timing, do just the amount of damage required and leave no trace.

Witnesses Said the Car Exploded Before It Hit the Tree – This is a misinterpretation of a translated interview with a witness to the accident. Jose Ruvalcaba, an employee at a nearby business, said in an on-camera interview a week after the accident that he heard the car flying down the road, ran out to see what was happening and saw sparks coming from Hastings’ car before it went up on the median. And he does not say he saw the car in flames. What he actually says, or at least what the translation has him saying, is “the car was bouncing, flames and sparks near the gas tank. When he hit the palm tree, that’s when the flames were higher.” Sparks around the bottom of the car would be entirely in keeping with the metal undercarriage hitting the median or a metal water pipe. He does NOT say the car exploded before it hit the tree, contrary to another Kimberly Dvorak story.

I also take Ruvalcaba’s statements with a degree of skepticism. Many eyewitnesses to the Flight 800 crash are certain they saw AND heard the plane struck by missile, despite this literally being impossible. Eyewitness testimony is useful, but not solid evidence of something implausible.

There Was a Second Car – Another theory states that Hastings was run off the road by another car, but this isn’t borne out by either the Mozza or Loud Labs footage. Both clearly show Hastings speeding, with no cars or car lights anywhere close to him. Even Jose Ruvalcaba, the witness who saw the car hit the tree, specifically says there were no other cars around Hastings.

The Car Was Hacked Into – The idea of someone being able to remotely hack into your car’s computer system and take control of it is terrifying. And many people believe this is what happened to Michael Hastings. No less an authority than former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke believes this could have happened, telling The Huffington Post:

“There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers — including the United States — know how to remotely seize control of a car. So if there were a cyber attack on the car — and I’m not saying there was, I think whoever did it would probably get away with it.”

But “reason to believe” something could happen is not evidence it did. For one thing, wirelessly sending instructions to a car’s computer system is basically impossible, because there’s nothing to receive the signal. While new cars do have numerous computer systems, they’re designed to monitor and control very specific parts of the car, and they don’t come with Wi-Fi access. The car would have to have been physically hacked into, with software downloaded into it and multiple unconnected systems being stitched together – and even then, the technology is mostly theoretical with no prior track record of being able to do what was done to Hastings’ car. Conspiracy theorists often rely on experimental or unproven technology to fill in gaps in their stories, and that appears to be the case with the “car hacking” angle.

Added 8/26/13: After an illuminating back and forth conversation with a reader, I want to clarify my position on the car hacking theory. I do find it unlikely that Hastings’ car was hacked into, but as I say elsewhere in the piece, unlikely does not mean impossible. Clearly, technology exists to be able to remotely take control of certain elements of a new car’s computer system, either through a remote signal or an installed program. It’s not entirely implausible that a sophisticated organization could make use of it to engineer an assassination that, by its nature, would destroy the evidence that it occurred.

However, I maintain that this technology is mostly unproven, with too many variables to be a foolproof method of killing someone. There’s also the context of Hastings’ car: it was a rental, and nobody could guarantee that he would drive it in the necessary way to make assassination-by-hacking possible before he returned it.

Without evidence that Hastings’ car actually was tampered with (as opposed to him simply thinking it was, quite possibly due to drug-induced paranoia), I remain confident that Hastings’ car was not remotely taken over and intentionally crashed.

The Brakes Were Cut – If Michael Hastings’ brakes had been cut, he wouldn’t have been able to brake the car at all. Brakes that have been cut don’t just stop working in the middle of a drive, as we see so often in movies. Brake failure might account for Hastings being unable to stop, but not for his rate of speed. It’s also not a deliberate attempt at murder.

He Was Taken Out By a Drone – I shouldn’t have to explain why this is unlikely. A drone flying over one of the most densely packed parts of Los Angeles and firing a missile at a speeding car would have attracted enormous attention. As it stands, not a single witness said they saw anything like a drone or missile, and neither the security camera footage nor the evidence at the scene supports the idea. Also, the missile would have to have hit the car at the exact moment it also hit the tree. It’s false, end of story.

The Engine Was Found Behind the Wreck – False and not possible. The engine of Hastings’ car was ejected and found about 170 feet south of the wreck. Photos of the scene clearly show where the wreck was and where the engine landed, and it’s exactly where it would be if it ejected from the car after the impact. Kimberly Dvorak has claimed the engine was found to the north, indicating either a massive bomb going off or some kind of botched evidence planting. However, this is both wrong and impossible, as it would violate the laws of physics. And it would seem Dvorak has removed the claim from her story.

Cars Don’t Explode or Eject Engines Like That – Critics of the “official story” point to a number of factors that debunk Hastings’ car exploding as a result of a crash. They say things like “The Mercedes he was driving was new and well-built” or “it wouldn’t have ejected its engine like it did” and “cars don’t just blow up like that.”

Actor Dick Van Dyke's car after it recently caught fire. One of thousands of car fires that will happen this year. (ABC News)

Actor Dick Van Dyke’s car after it recently caught fire. One of thousands of car fires that will happen this year. (ABC News)

But to say something doesn’t happen implies that it can’t. And this is false. While the kind of explosion that engulfed Hastings’ car was unusual, it’s by no means impossible. Every car accident is different, and a simple search finds numerous videos of crashes that end in fiery explosions and stories where engines are ejected out of cars – sometimes in cars as well-built as the Mercedes C class. With 9,000 car fires in the US every year, and over 32,000 people dying in traffic accidents in 2011, unusual does not mean impossible.

He Was Cremated Without His Family’s Consent – Yet another Kimberly Dvorak falsehood, implying that the LAPD burned the body to conceal evidence. This one stems from a misinterpretation of a statement by a friend of Hastings, who remarked that he’d never been to a funeral without a body and that he, personally, wouldn’t want to be cremated. Dvorak took this statement and turned it into another tentacle of the conspiracy. Hastings was cremated, but only after an autopsy was done – and with the consent of his family.

The Black Box Was Never Found – This is quite correct, and there’s a simple explanation: Mercedes-Benz doesn’t include event data recorders in their cars. Additionally, cars don’t have the type of “black box” recorders that airplanes do.

In preparing this piece, I read quite a bit about the crash and the state of mind Michael Hastings might have been in before it happened. And nothing has been compelling or plausible enough to alter my belief in the story that’s emerged from the LAPD, the Coroner’s office and the findings of credible journalists. There was no murder and no plot to take him out. There was only a talented, troubled man struggling with addiction and depression who lost his life in a car accident resulting from driving too fast. No conspiracy is required – just human frailty.

About Mike Rothschild

Mike Rothschild is a writer and editor based in Pasadena. He writes about scams, conspiracy theories, hoaxes and pop culture fads. He's also a playwright and screenwriter. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/rothschildmd.
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126 Responses to Why Michael Hastings Wasn’t Murdered

  1. Moral Dolphin says:

    Thanx for the extensive post. You can take Brians skeptoid when he finally does take a few weeks off!

    Great read! There probably isnt any reason to comment on the conspiracy to start a conspiracy.

    Heres a trick when you re driving and looking at on coming traffic.. Cars at 60mph (100km/h) do @100m in 4 seconds. Get a feel or looking at what 100m is guaged by your common road side markings and having a reasonable second by second guestimate.

    Use? Scaring your passenger by commenting! That and schadenfreude. Knowing the wonderful policemen with multi lane dopplers have photographed and his fine is being processed the second you say..”Ha-ha!”..

    Schadenfreude, speeding morons and police meet more often than you probably notice.

    We have to share country highways with trucks here. The guess speed and distance comes in handy (and it keeps your eyes front and on duty at all times.

    PS the kids say I am probably the most anal driver in the world. I respond by saying the best drivers in the world die in car accidents just between gigs.

    That wreck is consistent with 100-120 short takeoff into solid object.

    • nigeriantits says:

      Huh, you say that the technology to hack a car into going at high speed remotely is only “theoretical” and obviously didn’t happen. Does this imply that remote-controlling a car has never been done before? I’ve seen quite a few cars done, and saying it’s theoretical implies that it’s as close to reality as a warp drive — so screw you, Mike. It’s downright trivial to add an actuator and wireless receiver to a car.

      This is in response to the article writer.

  2. PeterJ says:

    Nice article, but I think I’ve spotted a typo: “feet tall, live for over a century and have think trunks, strong roots”. Thanks!

  3. Aaron says:

    Mike,

    Incredibly well written and detailed. Also, very respectful of Micheal Hastings without showing bias pro or con for him personally. I wish I could talk to people as well as you write to people. I always end up feeling like I’m the crazy one in the group for being skeptical/logical.

    -ab

    • Thank you very much. It does often feel like one has to go out on a limb when showing belief in “the official story.” We default into conspiracy much too easily.

      • Mike Sosebee says:

        “We default into conspiracy much too easily.” So very true. I had seen Mike’s writing partner Matt Farwell on Democracy Now last week and they talked about Michael and what he was working on. They left the conspiracy notion hanging out there so being an “enquiring mind” I began to peruse the blogs and web-sites obsessively looking for the smoking gun. The conspiracy theorists apparently had a field day with this one. I don’t consider myself gullible but I was surprised at how easily I got hooked into it.

        In the end there were several things thing that stood out for me: One why was Michael, paranoid, even driving at 4 a.m. in the morning?
        Two: I saw was his widow’s interview on Piers Morgan composed and tearless. And finally why had she stayed in NY and Michael went to L.A.? The wives always know when the husbands are out of control and she didn’t seem intersted in looking for his killer.

        That being said, your well researched article brought my obsessive-compulsive search to an end and I thank you for that.

  4. sgerbic says:

    Great article, very detailed. I hadn’t heard of this crash or reporter, but that isn’t necessary to understanding the way these conspiracy stories build.

  5. ScottyMac says:

    Well written and presented. I agree that his conclusions are probably correct, and Occam’s Razor would suggest it to be the most likely answer. However would it not be best to state that the likelihood of murder is exceedingly unlikely based on the evidence rather than to boldly state that there was no murder? Absolute statements like that may give reason for the conspiracy theorists to think that skeptics are not open minded.

    • Robrob says:

      No different than stating Bigfoot doesn’t exist. Yes, you can’t prove a negative but sophistry aside, when the likelihood of something reaches the far end of the probability curve it’s a safe working assumption it’s not true.

      • ScottyMac says:

        To use your own example; I personally believe that most (if not all) cryptids are hokum, however I would never state they do not exist as that is unscientific. I was taught by some excellent science professors to never speak in absolutes, but probabilities. Therefore “exceedingly unlikely” is more scientific than (I paraphrase) “didn’t happen.” Please explain how this is a sophism.

        • ScottyMac says:

          BTW I am aware that “never” is an absolute, so let us skip the pedantry. Of course one might well argue that my original post counts as pedantry, but not sophistry.

  6. idesofmarch says:

    Appreciate this clear, accurate, balanced review of all the facts. Several issues continue to give me pause, however.

    I find it difficult to believe that a sober adult would run 3 red lights, zooming past other stopped cars at such a high speed and risk injuring/killing others. By all reports, Hastings was a caring, compassionate person. There is the report that his brother said he felt invincible, but as others have pointed out, that is not consistent with Hastings asking his neighbor at 12:30 am to borrow her car because he believed his had been tampered with. The information from the brother included in the accident report was likely gathered from a shocked, distraught, likely angry, grieving sibling, who may have later regretted some of what he said. The neighbor seems to have been close enough to Hastings to have reliable knowledge of his drug intake (or lack thereof) and his state of mind. And it is unclear exactly what drugs his brothers thought he needed to “detox” from. Did they mistakenly assume he was using illegal drugs because of his “paranoia”?

    The first I’ve heard that the Mercedes was a rental car was in the latest WhoWhatWhy piece (in fact the LA Times article implies the car belonged to him)–he’d been there since February so is it more likely that it was a leased car? If so, it could be assumed he would be driving it for some time.

    Then there’s the report from Sgt. Joe Biggs that Hastings’ wife Elise Jordan vowed to “bring down whoever did this” at the memorial service, and that other friends seemed perplexed by his speeding. Biggs seems quite credible and earnest, and was confused and upset when she later backed away from that. My guess it that it was her who corresponded with WhoWhatWhy and denied his meth use, and lambasted the LAPD investigation.

    Finally, there is the issue of braking. I’ve read that there were no skid marks. The coroner’s report seems to make it very clear, though, that his foot was pressing hard on the brake pedal at time of impact. Some think there is evidence of his brake lights being on even as the car was hurtling down the street. As far as I know, there has been no accident reconstruction/car inspection report released.

    I wonder what Hastings’ neighbor thinks the truth is. Absent some type of car hacking, he would have had to be a) in a state of extreme paranoia/PTSD episode/delusion, or b) suicidal to drive as he did. It doesn’t make sense to me that someone who was either trying to flee under cover of night, or going on a drug run but still sober, would run red lights at such a high speed and seemingly not brake (until perhaps the last instant).

    Would be interested in your thoughts on these issues. Whatever the truth is, the outcome is very sad.

  7. idesofmarch says:

    Thank you for that information.

    I did some googling and found this study, which suggests there would be faint ABS markings on a dry pavement (which the pavement was prior to the water main being broken). Does anyone know if these types of markings were observed in the Hastings crash?

    http://www.crashforum.info/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=164

    In 1995 the Palm Beach County Sheriffs department Vehicle Homicide Unit conducted an ABS workshop. The purpose was to identify what type of evidence an ABS stop might leave.

    Two identical vehicles, 1993 Chev Caprices one with ABS and one without, were the test vehicles. The test speeds were timed with radar and all marks were photographed and measured.

    On various test surfaces ABS marks were lighter and harder to see than skid marks.

    Though much less apparent than skid marks, every dry surface left a clearly defined measurable ABS mark. The beginning of the ABS mark was well defined. Everyone could agree on the ABS mark length. Interestingly, in every dry ABS test, the tires showed conclusive evidence of the stop.

    The tires faces were speckled with longitudinally oriented circumferential marks. These markings are similar to the striations on a yawing tire face, but shorter and oriented along the tire axis. This speckling was more apparent on the front tires than the rear.

    You could not discern the front wheels from the rear wheels in the ABS marks. Abs marks were of inconsistent darkness along their length. There were dark and light sections within the mark.

    ABS marks are short lived evidence after 24 hrs on a very lightly traveled road. Only 2 of the 7 tests were still measurable.

    • Coach says:

      and prior to the well meaning old guy breaking out what appears to be a 2 inch hose of gushing water that he pours all over the street and Hastings car, but does nothing to put it out. The water however, washes away evidence of previous vehicles on scene, (which the LL vid clearly shows – at least 5 vehicles went throught the water and one went exceptionally close to the Hastings vehicle – the coroner mentioned tracks on the median strip – Hmmm?) or special chemicals in the car or whatever – at a minimum the washing away of evidence would require a thorough questioning and background check of the old fireman.

      • Robrob says:

        “at a minimum the washing away of evidence would require a thorough questioning and background check of the old fireman.”

        Please feel free to elaborate on your claim.

  8. Rob Struble says:

    “Conspiracy theorists *often* rely on experimental or unproven technology to fill in gaps in their stories”

    “Often” = nearly always…

    • Coach says:

      Naive. On the contrary the more science you can call upon the better, it’s researchable, and its believable. Conspiracy theories turn on a word, a definition, a phrase that is taken out of context. Like in a negative political campaign add, it is most successful when you can take a quote of the oppostion out of context and turn it on him or her. It is a lie and you know it – but so what, the ends justify the means.

      • Robrob says:

        “On the contrary the more science you can call upon the better, it’s researchable, and its believable.”

        Since the majority of CT rely on imaginary unworkable technology (dustification rays, flying holographs, mind control, etc…) how is that “researchable” or “believable?”

  9. idesofmarch says:

    This is my first time visiting this web site. I was drawn here by Mike Rothschild’s very balanced and accurate review of the facts in this case. I am not a conspiracy theorist, nor am I a professional skeptic. I am interested in having discussions with other open-minded, inquiring people. I don’t know what Rob Struble is referring to as “experimental or unproven technology”, but I do not get the impression that he is interested in respectful, open-minded discussion. I would be interested in Mike Rothschild’s thoughts on the issues I’ve raised. As I’ve learned more, I do think it is very likely that there was no car-hacking, but I would like to hear from others who have considered and resolved the issues I find troubling. Thank you.

    • I made the initial remark about unproven technology. You’ve got Flight 800 conspiracy theorists who think the plane was shot down by some kind of super MANPAD or submarine launched surface to air missile, neither of which existed in 1996; and the “voice morphing” nonsense of 9/11 truthers.

      • YEAH!

        And the Conspiracy theory that 19 Arabs used WMD to carry out 911.
        When the Weapon’s Inspectors went to Iraq, never found these WMD, because they had been moved to Saudi Arabia. Now the UN has demanded that the Saudi destroy ALL these BOX-CUTTERS.

        YOU DUMB BUNCH OF HOMERITES!

        911 was the greatest GOLD BULLION & BONDS robbery in the world & the Twin Towers, which had been condemned for destruction, were the SMOKE & MIRRORS needed to fool the people.

  10. Peter Angermeier says:

    Hi Mike:

    You write, in regard to the car hack, “It’s not entirely implausible that a sophisticated organization could make use of it to engineer an assassination that, by its nature, would destroy the evidence that it occurred.” Thoughtful comment.

    But then you go on to say that, because there’s no evidence the hack happened, you’re “confident” that it didn’t. Am I missing something here?

    I think Richard Clark may be the expert here, and Forbes surely showed us how it works in the real world.

    But the question I’d like you to answer is this:

    What is a LOUDLABS “reporter” doing at 4 am with his car and dashcam pointed and running at the exact intersection where Michael runs the red light? Please don’t tell me they’re all over town.
    They’re not. And they no longer have a functioning website, to my knowledge.

    This “reporter” was also not listening to the police scanner, as he claimed in an interview, because the cops were not following Michael. No one was. If they had been, they would have arrived at the crash site long before LAFD.

    I’d love to know your take on this, thanks!

    -Peter

    • I’m confident it didn’t happen because there’s no evidence it happened and it’s extremely implausible and unproven. It’s also a terrible way to assassinate someone.

      As for LoudLabs, they’re a freelance TV and web news crew, one of many in the Los Angeles area. I can’t speak for the reporter’s interview, because I haven’t read it. But it’s possible he checked in with a police sanner after seeing the Mercedes flying down Highland at 4 AM. Seems like the kind of thing that might be newsworthy.

      • Peter Angermeier says:

        Mike:

        I’m with carloscarlson, and sorrry, I don’t feel that you answered my question about the LOUDLABS “reporter”.

        You use the phrase “extremely implausible” almost as a certainty.

        Well, I find it extremely implausible that any “reporter” would find himself at that exact intersection, at that exact time, without having been sent there intentionally.

        Your comment that he may have listened to a scanner AFTER he saw the car run the red misses that point altogether.

        So again, sir, with all due respect, what then is a plausible, believable reason this “reporter” was there, at that time, in a city the size of LA, on an innocent mission?

        -Peter

        • Robrob says:

          Pointing to coincidence as “evidence” is a hallmark of conspiracy theorists.

          • Glenn Finley says:

            Hey, RobRob – coincidences ARE evidence. They are not proof, but they figure prominently in many convictions in US courts. Ask any lawyer. And they are enough to get you arrested. Ask any African American.
            Glenn Finley

      • YEAH!

        And you believe in the MAGIC BULLET that hit JFK & Connally & was found on a stretcher, in pristine condition.

        HOMERITES!

  11. Hey Mike, I appreciate your well thought out arguments. You clearly have read all of the arguments, and you correctly shoot down the crazy ones, mostly by Kimberly Dvorak.

    Unfortunately, I still do not believe that you proved that he wasn’t murdered, as your headline would have us believe. Yes, some of these facts are nearly impossible to prove or disprove, but maybe you could change your headline to reflect that?

    As a non-conspiracy theorist, I assure you that I am very open to the very plausible possibility that Michael Hastings was sleep deprived, on drugs, or in a particular paranoid mental state, one or all which caused him to crash into the tree. But, I also do not believe that enough fair reporting has been done about the (more complicated) possibilities that someone else had a hand in it. Unfortunately, I also do not trust the government’s story, because they provably lie frequently, when they need to.

    These are the facts as I can see it right now:
    1. The U.S. government has been proven time and time again to be shockingly more powerful, and clandestine than most people give them credit for. I probably don’t need to cite sources on this, but Edward Snowden helped prove this point.
    2. Michael Hastings was working on an article about CIA director John Brennan, something that would not have been flattering, and probably would reveal details supporting my previous point.
    3. The ability to hack and control a car is completely possible, and if MIT can do it, than most likely the CIA can do it.
    4. Michael Hastings was convinced that he was in danger and being followed, and was scared to drive his car.

    Again. I am not saying that he was murdered. But I also don’t think that debunking idiots like Kimberly Dvorak, automatically disproves all of the questions surrounding the crash.

    There is enough cold hard evidence to support collusion from the government, and there are countless examples of other powerful governments, not the U.S., murdering reporters because they don’t like what they are reporting.

    • It’s not my job to prove Hastings wasn’t murdered – it’s the job of those who believe he was murdered to prove he was.

      That some people in the government have lied about some things is not evidence that some people in the government are lying about this.

      • carloscarlson says:

        True, but maybe you should change your headline to something that doesn’t sound like you are proving “why michael hastings wasn’t murdered”.

      • Coach says:

        I would say it the job of the prosecutor to try the facts before a jury and to let justice take its course. It is the job of law enforcement to collect the evidence, the facts of the case and present them to the appropriate prosecutor (federal, state, county) and to let the prosecutor determine if in fact a potential crime has been committed. If the prosecutor wishes they can convene a grand jury who can hear testimony and engage evidence to assist the prosecutor in his/her determination to carry out a trial.

        As a skeptic – I would say it is your job to equally question all points of view and narratives – the government, or law enforcement notwithstanding. Regrettably, the great tradition of skepticsm has fallen on hard times and resorted to a back handed deflection of all opinion not aligned with the establisment mores. Hume regularly rolls over in his grave when skeptics are asked for their opinion.

        Todays skeptics discredits his libertarian roots and traditon by taking sides – and calling those who question authority or the establisment as mere conspiracists. On the contrary the great skeptics of all times have always led the periodic cleansing of culture and its institutions.

      • Peter Angermeier says:

        Oh my. Your headline reads “Why Michael Hastings wasn’t murdered”.

        Thoughtful readers would assume that means you’ve got something solid to share with us. But their comments here indicate they don’t feel you do.

        That some people in government haven’t lied about some things is not evidence that they aren’t lying about this.

        Works both ways.

        -Peter

        • PeterJ says:

          No, thoughtful readers will assume that, in the absence of evidence that Hastings was murdered, Mike would revert to the null hypothesis.

          Peter.

    • gymgoki says:

      If anyone cares:
      Hacking has been done on a commercial level. See “Wired” article:
      Hacker Disables More Than 100 Cars Remotely

      By Kevin Poulsen
      03.17.10

      It has been done by several institutions according to my Norton (anti-virus) newletter.

      • Robrob says:

        If you read the cited article.

        “More than 100 drivers in Austin, Texas found their cars disabled or the horns honking out of control, after an intruder ran amok in a web-based vehicle-immobilization system normally used to get the attention of consumers delinquent in their auto payments.”

        “The dealership used a system called Webtech Plus as an alternative to repossessing vehicles that haven’t been paid for. Operated by Cleveland-based Pay Technologies, the system lets car dealers install a small black box under vehicle dashboards that responds to commands issued through a central website, and relayed over a wireless pager network. The dealer can disable a car’s ignition system, or trigger the horn to begin honking, as a reminder that a payment is due. The system will not stop a running vehicle.”

        • gymgoki says:

          Right. It may require an add-on. (I forgot this point in my comment) But as Mike pointed out: Mr. Hastings feared someone had tampered with his car……. the government may employ computer experts that may know how to so that or even get around that….but now I’m speculating.

          The whole car-hacking “thing” is really getting some legs. For example:

          in the NYT

          August 11, 2013, 11:00 am
          Disruptions: As New Targets for Hackers, Your Car and Your House
          By NICK BILTON
          http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/taking-over-cars-and-homes-remotely/?_r=0

          In general, if I was threatened by the Mafia (or McChrystal associates) then I ended up dead, I would hope someone would consider the option of foul play.

    • Robrob says:

      “The ability to hack and control a car is completely possible, and if MIT can do it, than most likely the CIA can do it.”

      If you actually watch the video, you’ll see all the MIT students did was access the remote control door lock. To access the vehicle’s CPU, you have to use a cable connection. Regardless, steering and brakes (not to mention hand brake) are not computer controlled. At no point did they “remotely control” anything.

    • catherinestreet says:

      thank you ~ very helpful.

  12. Guy Montag says:

    Cops arriving before firefighters? I’ve been doing the job for 22 years and (unless there’s something like a shooting) police response in my city is usually much slower than the FD.

    • Peter Angermeier says:

      Like your take, Guy.

      The LOUDLABS “reporter” (my comments above) who shot the video we all know and love indicated in a youtube vid, in response to a thoughtful question, that the reason he jus happened to be at Highland and Santa Monica, at 4 am, with his car pointed at the intersection, and his dash cam running, was that he got a heads-up on the police scanner.

      Meaning that LAPD was tracking Michael, or at least quite aware of what he was doing.

      My point is that if that were true it’s more likely they would have been following him, no? Or at the scene a bit faster that normal. But they were not.

      So, if that explanation goes away…….then………..how was this guy magically at the scene to film it all?

      -Peter

  13. Guy Montag says:

    Thoughtful post. I’m equally skeptical as well of the dumb conspiracy theories out there, but I need to hear more from Hastings family and close friends about his mental state before drawing firm conclusion. At this point, I doubt we’ll ever know the truth since the LAPD failed to look for evidence of foul play.

    The key question still unanswered is WHY Hastings’ car was speeding so fast that night. Maybe Hastings had reasons to be scared (or maybe he was paranoid) and drove too fast, or maybe his car brakes/accelerator had been “hacked” or tampered with.

    Unfortunately, the LAPD never tried to answer that question or investigate the crash as a potential homicide. It appears the traffic detective merely assumed Hastings was drugged up and crashed. The next day he filed his brief 2-page report after spending only 2 hours on the scene, taking 48 photos, and talking to Hasting’s brother (he took no evidence). During the past two months, it appears there was no further investigation (e.g. forensics of the car, talking to neighbors and friends, getting more CCTV video).

    A Hastings family member told WhoWhatWhy, “The LAPD has done a really sloppy job investigating his case … they had to insert speculation throughout their field report to compensate for their lack of an investigation. … It’s so irresponsible and they were hoping for a mother lode of drugs in his system ….” Opps, nothing much found there! IF this crash was an assassination, we will never know since the LAPD failed to find any evidence of foul play since they never really looked for it.

    I’m currently working on my take on the subject, links to sources and notes can be found in the chapter “The Character Assassination of Michael Hastings” (pp. 103 – 115) in my post “More Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth” at the Feral Firefighter blog. The previous chapter in that post deals with my own (more extended) discussion of whether the crash was an accident or assassination.

    • Coach says:

      Wow – how awkward is this. It’s been several days now since I posted empirical evidence on three open ended questions regarding the Hastings death. I still havent seen your response. I am just a seat of my pants kinda guy trying to figure stuff out – and I seen what I seen and I cant get the pros like you to even say – go away punk, or – wow maybe you got something there. What’s up with that?

    • gymgoki says:

      Thank you to Guy, Coach and gbell12.
      There are enough questionable gaps to make me think that there is more behind this story. As has already been said: To dismiss “conspiracy theorists” (whatever that means) out of hand is not really being skeptical.
      I am becoming more and more skeptical of our government. The era of real journalism is past. All the media outlets have corporate agendas. Protecting the government is on those agendas. The few people that point out errant government behaviors are punished. Certainly Snowden is one….was Hastings too?
      Before demonizing Hastings over his toxicology report of “Amphetamines” I would like to know if he was being treated for ADHD. Adderall for example is a mixture of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine.

      • I hardly think writing 3,000 words on something is dismissing it out of hand.

        As for whether he was being treated for ADHD or anything else, this is Protected Health Information and confidential.

        • gymgoki says:

          Please don’t take offense. I was actually pleased with your dissection of the case. I came away thinking MORE that there was something fishy with this case than I had before reading your piece.

          That’s just it: Without context you can’t demonize him for amphetamine use without know his PHI.I would wager that most people see that someone taking “amphetamines” is a drug abuser. But these same people would think that someone taking Adderall merely has ADHD.

          I love your phrase below: “What monstrous hubris that is.”
          We have all seen it before:
          Watergate
          Iran-Contra
          NSA

          And maybe I just shouldn’t trust a Rothschild since you are part of the secret international Rothschild Banking conspiracy.
          :-)

      • catherinestreet says:

        the record suggested that the drugs in his system were of trace and inconsequential amounts not likely to have influenced his driving.

  14. Great article! Rotten headline. You haven’t established that he wasn’t murdered to my satisfaction. Imagine that if you feared for your life, told your family and your friends, and then you ended up dead, wouldn’t you hope that the police might at least chase that lead down a path to see where it went? It’s Danny Casalaro all over again.

    Why not at least consider the possibility that Michael’s e-mail might be the truth? He said that he was going under the radar for a few days.

    As you report, he asked the police to inspect his car because he believed it had been tampered with. Had Gene Maddeus from this paper thought to obtain that police report? What did it say? If so, what did it reveal?

    Next:
    1.His brother comes into town to get him into rehab–could that have been the “cover story?”
    2. He sends out his final email the afternoon before his death cautioning friends that they may be contacted by the FBI and to seek legal advice.
    3. He contacts Jennifer Robinson at Wikileaks at 11:30 p.m.
    4. Three hours before his death, he tells his neighbor he’s afraid to drive his car and requests to borrow hers. Request was denied.
    5. He takes off in a rush and we don’t know why. Isn’t this important? Possibilities
    a. “go under the radar”
    b. Was he upset with his brother at the thought of rehab?
    c. Where is his wife? Was he worried about her in light of his fears?
    d. Was he the poor tortured soul who had witnessed many horrible things and truths and couldn’t handle them anymore? That doesn’t sound like the Hastings I’ve been reading about.
    6. At 4:30 a.m. his car is a ball of fire upon impact or just prior to impact. Engine with transmission minus the oil pan flies about 170 feet.

    Don’t we all wish the police would look at this from Michael’s perspective and show us why he was wrong to be in fear for his life?

    I am a reporter in Texas and contacted LAPDs PR office today. The two people with whom I spoke were completely unfamiliar with the Michael Hastings case. The first woman had never heard of him. “Los Angeles is a big city and there’s a lot of stuff going on here.” The second woman gave me the name of the Detective Connie White. Her contact number is 213 473-0234 and the email address is pio@lapd.lacity.org.

    I suggest if we are going to find the truth, we all get busy and come up with questions to ask the good detective. Let’s exercise our right to petition our government for grievances and our first amendment! We must hold all of these people accountable.

  15. One more thought. The black box is equipped in all vehicles with the air bag module. Depending on the model year and make, it will record the last 10 seconds or so.

    See this article in the NY TImes. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/22/business/black-boxes-in-cars-a-question-of-privacy.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    In this case, the fire was “white hot” if Dvorak’s experts are to be believed. This by the way is a temperature way beyond that of an ordinary car fire, and the box may not have survived at those temperatures. However, a detective, the fire department, somebody should have thought to check this and include its existence or not in the police report.

    By the way, I write for an automotive publication and own an auto repair shop.

  16. Coach says:

    Seems to me you would have to have an official, media approved of, police state, government sanctioned – forensic analysis, hypothesis and conclusion for Michael Hastings death – before declaring any off hand speculation, informed conjecture, or questioning of the facts – A Conspiracy. Am I right? A conspiracy by definition would have to have something to conspire against; a witness testimony, scientific proof, or overwhelming circumstantial evidence – before any contrary opinions, forensic analysis and opposing evidence can be considered a conspiracy, right?

    In the Michael Hastings case – what police state approved narrative are questioner’s of Hastings death considered to be conspiring against? I am cannot find an approved forensic analysis, an approved police report, an approved conclusion of Hastings death. Approved media consensus are everywhere, the sanctions of officialdom are absent. A coroners report only gives his informed opinion of the cause of death. While some may quibble with the quailifications of this said coroner, his conclusion, “by blunt force object” seems to be beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    However, the coroner does not argue how this blunt force object came about. Rather he prefers to argue that previous drug use, infantile fantasies expressing themselves in adult behavior and possible post traumatic syndrome may have played a role in the coroner having found drugs in scant, minute traces in Hastings system. They did not have a direct, casual role in his death.

    In fact the coroner does not proffer a series of empirical events that led directly to the death of Michael Hastings. The coroner abrogated his professional responsibility to connect the physical casual events that led to Hastings death with the external empirical facts that caused his death. In other words the police report and coroners report do not match up. But is anyone asking?

    This has left the death of Michael Hastings open to an unbelievable rush of conspiracy theories that do no grace to his memory as an American patriot. There is an abundance of evidence that needs to be tested, reviewed and put into proper persepective in order to to get the real reason American Patriot Michael Hastings met an untimely demise.

    I would hope that the skeptics would resist the all to lazy to label all media approved explanations of Hastings death as “proved” and all responsible questioning of the facts of Hastings death as just that – a distinctly American approved enterprise to freely investigate facts and come to differing conclusions than government approved ones and to let the court of public opinion hash them out.

    I have left a great deal of empirical evidence on Russ Bakers web site Who What Where Why – go there and decide for yourself.

    • Guy Montag says:

      You seem to be conflating the comments of the traffic detectives (first 2 pages of the report) with the coroner’s. I believe those two pages are basically it for the investigation. They didn’t think it looked like foul play, so they didn’t call in Homicide, etc. to take a closer look or do forensics.

      • Coach says:

        How do you conflate what doesnt exist? How do you debunk what does not exist. That is the silly atheists problem. And that’s the whole problem here. There is nothing to throw at – so nothing sticks. Nothing to argue with, nothing to discredit, your opinion for engines growing wings is just as good as Divwhacks, just as good as the crack dealer on the street. At least I have done the work to establish some facts.

        The facts are clear. He does not show up in the car at Santa Monica and N Highland. The car jumps the median strip, impacts one of the twin palms 50 feet away, he runs over the metal cage bolted into the ground, and then he traverses 50 ft on extremely uneven terrain, before he crashes head on into the impact palm. It is on those facts alone that you or anyone may devise a theory that supports the engine grows wings theory, the car blows up three times and only half is body and clothes are burned and the coroner got a set of charcol fingerprints. And because his family doesnt lift a finger that is somehow supposed to make a differene to the facts.

        Geezus, public education has sunk to insufferable depths.

        The LA PD punted on investigating this any further. Hmm? Either someone said to the police chief you will be doing traffic tickets the rest of your days alive – or someone in the chain of command recognized a “I see nothing” hit and shut’er down. In any case there has not been a legitimate peer reviewed forensic investigation that explains how the car hit that tree and subsequently has given birth to a Michael Hastings death conspiracy cottage industry. And your leading the pack, with your little skeptic friends running close behind.

        • Robrob says:

          “It is on those facts alone that you or anyone may devise a theory that supports the engine grows wings theory, the car blows up three times and only half is body and clothes are burned and the coroner got a set of charcol fingerprints.”

          Please elaborate what you find strange about the engine being ejected on impact?

          Please elaborate what you find strange about the body not being totally burned?

          Please elaborate what you find strange about a coroner being able to lift his fingerprints?

      • Coach says:

        seems to me there is more to the investigation than some 2 page jc grad essay.

        Now we are getting somewhere. I dont know where – but at least we can finally get some real reasoned answers.

  17. Mango B. Coconut says:

    Also, if you wanted to bump somebody off you wouldn’t do it in this way – there are far too many uncontrollable variables and it’s far too high-profile.

    Why is it conspiracy theorists think that the FBI/CIA/insert other Sinister Organization all have a copy of the Rube Goldberg Guide to Assassination?

    • Robrob says:

      I suspect it’s to weave a twisted path around the facts.

    • gymgoki says:

      Because they do.
      There is a documentary film about how to assassinate Fidel Castro.
      “638 Ways to Kill Castro”

      I would love to have a Skeptoid podcast about this. 538 are probably made up. 100 are probably true and I bet at least 10 are kooky.

    • catherinestreet says:

      Given the anger at what he did; the consequences to a very important General, and the general attitude toward stifling of the press and reporting the truth, as well as whistleblowing, I could see some folks thinking making a high-profile, but unprovable ‘assassination’ worthy and a good warning to others who might behave similarly. say, a bit of a war with any remaining truth telling press…

      • Peter Angermeier says:

        Thanks, Catherine, for your kind and thoughtful comments. You’re right. I was wasting my breath at the end there. There hasn’t been much else on this for 2 months now………it’s getting quiet. As you can see. Is anyone going to make a movie about this, I wonder……………?

        • catherinestreet says:

          Probably not Peter….but you never know…. I liked Daughter of Liberty’s suggestions, but didn’t have time to follow up myself. The family has done a disservice by being so vocal and dismissing concerns about his death. That has likely put a nail in the coffin on any doubts securing that little will come of people’s concerns. Too bad. Still see it as very likely for the many reasons cited.

  18. gbell12 says:

    I think it’s important to leave out labels like “conspiracy theorists”, which is often used to deride questioning or investigative reporting.

    More important is to categorize statements into:

    1) Evidence (facts).
    2) Possibilities (factual, technical, based on history, etc.)
    3) Probabilities (opinion, hopefully informed by 1 and 2)

    We don’t have enough evidence to draw conclusions. It is possible the car was hacked. It is possible it exploded on impact. Your opinion is that the first is unlikely, and the second is likely.

    Your article is excellent, but delineating statements by these classifications would make the picture clearer.

  19. Peter – LOUDLABS is a freelance production company. They take film footage and photos and sell them to news outlets. Here’s a story from before the Hastings crash with a photo credit to LOUDLABS: http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/06/12/man-pleads-in-connection-to-strip-club-crash-that-severed-mens-legs/

    As for what this particular person was doing at that particular intersection at that particular time: I have no idea. Probably waiting for something interesting to happen that he could film and or photograph and make a few bucks selling. That area of Los Angeles is heavily trafficked and has a ton of celebrity hangouts around it. These companies pay their bills being the first on the scene for incidents that bigger news orgs don’t or can’t cover. So he probably had no specific purpose being at Melrose and Highland other than waiting for a fish to drop in his lap. Which it did.

    Why would someone “send” a reporter to be on the scene of a murder they were about to carry out? What monstrous hubris that is.

  20. For some reason, my replies aren’t posting under the comments they’re intended for.

    I made an error in the last post: the reporter was at Highland and Santa Monica, not Highland and Melrose. And as to why he was there – LoudLabs explained it themselves, in their Youtube posting of the footage:

    “[The reporter] mentioned to us in our meeting that he was close to the story because he was working a lead on the Justin Bieber crash on Sunset Blvd.

    The lead turned out to be nothing and he then drove to the intersection of Santa Monica & Vista to do some computer work before heading in for the night. When leaving that intersection he said that he noticed he’d made a mistake on what he was working on. (K-9 Deployed YouTube Feed) He then pulled into the gas station at Highland & Santa Monica Blvd to fix the problem. All of our work vehicles are equipped with dash-cams. Out of pure luck……his dash-cam caught a Mercedes Benz at a high rate of speed run the red light travelling south on Highland. Melrose is just a few blocks away and impact took place just seconds after.”

    So unless you believe the LAPD farms out their “tracking” to freelance reporters, his story makes perfect sense.

    • Peter Angermeier says:

      Hmmm. “Pure luck”? Really? And among all the things you find “implausible” this works for you……..

      Then maybe you can explain why, in a previous youtube vid, posted before the above corporate explanation, the same reporter explained he was there because he was “following reports on a police scanner”, and got a heads-up that way?

      Two very different stories, in response to a simple question, and neither one makes sense.

      And tell me why LOUDLABS no longer has a working website. Go to http://WWW.LOUDLABS.com, last known place for them, and tell me what you find.

      -Peter

    • Robrob says:

      “[The reporter] mentioned to us in our meeting that he was close to the story because he was working a lead on the Justin Bieber crash on Sunset Blvd.”

      Which is why the initial reports described him as having responded to a police scanner call (the Bieber crash). True to CT protocol, those having pointed to the scanner call as “evidence” will now pretend they never said it at all.

  21. Are you referring to Scott Lane’s interview on Inside Edition? If so, Lane never actually says he’s listening to the police scanner – whoever is doing the voiceover said it.

    Regardless, the idea of a reporter who happened to be in the right place at the right time to catch a story is more plausible to me than “the LAPD tipped him off about the murder they were about to be complicit in.”

    Does that *really* make sense to you?

    As to why the Loudlabs site is down, I have no idea. It looks like Scott Lane’s Twitter handle has been deactivated as well. I’d imagine the constant bombardment of questions and accusations of being “in on it” are making it hard for them to get work done, but that’s just a guess.

    • Peter Angermeier says:

      Thanks, Mike. The interview I refer to was on youtube. Don’t recall if it was “inside edition.” Do you think the interviewer would come up, on their own, with the idea that he was listening to a scanner? That does not seem plausible to me. How would an interviewer know what, if any, tools he had at his disposal?

      And I never said LAPD tipped him off. Never meant to imply it, either. Because LAPD was not tracking him.

      And now you, admittedly, as well, have no idea why LOUDLABS, and this guy, have gone into the ether. When they maybe should be working on a book deal, and a movie. If they had nothing to do with it.

      This man was hired, maybe even innocently, on his part, to document the hit. Hired by whatever was behind all of this. He had all the tools to do so in his car, already, as part of his job. He was positioned, magically, (sorry, no “pure luck”, because plausibility doesn’t allow for that) at the exact spot and time, with the camera rolling.

      At 4 am in a huge city like LA, nobody’s going to be this lucky.

      And here’s maybe the larger point. Anyone can pull this apart and look at each piece, and maybe even stretch things to explain it all away, individually. But when you take it all together, in context, the statistical likelihood that this was all innocent goes down to almost nil.

      In my view.

      -Peter

      • Anonymous says:

        If the Loudlabs reporter was hired, then who hired him? What kind of assassin wants film footage of their work?

        And what about the footage from Mozza, which actually shows the crash? Were they in on it too?

        The statistical likelihood that this was an accident is virtually 100. Tens of thousands of people die in car crashes every year. 0 people that we know of have died as a result of their hacked car being driven into a tree.

        • Coach says:

          Virtually is not certainty. So, why is the everyone including the LA PD afraid of establishing his death was a 100% accident. It can’t be all that difficult for jc grads to fake the physics. Come on….

          • The LAPD said there was no sign of foul play two days after the accident.

          • Coach says:

            Okay Mikey:

            Dear LA PD:

            I am John Q Interested – please show me the report. Show me the analysis of how that vehicle did what it did. I am interested, I pay your salary.

            Or better yet, I am an insurance investigator – please forward me the forensics on the Hastings crash and cause – please. Oh btw: we cant seem to find where you filed that boys death certificate? I am settling with the Hastings estate and I need to justify the payout.

            Or even better, I am Mercedes B – and I think your full your full of crap. There is no way in hell our cars explode on impact and we are going to sue your chicken liver arces if you dont find a cause of crash.

            This isnt a high school debate project – dude. Real people with real interest – directly related to dollars and cents – in how this thing went down are interested. In the public interest it is the responsibility of the LA PD to put forward a good faith effort to disclose the facts and causes therein of this crash.

            Until then , conspiracy theories are no better or worse than shills for the PD saying it was just another accident. In fact if there is a conspiracy – the direction of that arrow points in the direction of those who are trying to shut down all independent investigation or inquiry. Now why would anyone want to do that?

            Come on, really? You can do better than this.

    • Coach says:

      Mikey – do a google search and dig up what is out there about Scott Lane and LLC – one employee. He has several different ventures, but its just him earning his living until he hits one out. This vid was close.

    • Peter Angermeier says:

      Read this on car hacks. Some of us knew about this over a year ago………..

      http://www.money.cnn.com/2014/06/01/technology/security/car-hack/index.html?iid=HP_River

      Does this change your outlook on this case even a little bit?

      • Yup, you just know a guy like this didn’t do anything to the guy who he sees as unfairly depicting him and ruining his career of 38 years: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/22/stanley-mcchrystal-linkedin_n_5192394.html

        • Oh, please. If one of the top men in the Army wants someone killed, he’s not going to do it this way.

          Plus McChrystal has made far more money on corporate boards and through speaking than he ever did in the army. He maligned his commander in chief, and this is the result.

          • Oh pulease! back at you. I’m sure you think what you just said makes sense and is convincing. Its not. I think you know very little of what you’re speaking about, and perhaps you should listen a bit more before all the writing you do.

      • No motive at all — “Teachers can change schools, bankers might find a new bank, and a car engineer is still relevant at Ford or GM. Soldiers can’t do that. There is only one Army in which you serve. When that identity is gone, it is gone forever. For me, it was gone in an instant, and on terms that I could never have imagined.”

        He can malign the author all he wants now…. no one to correct him.

  22. Guy Montag says:

    In preparing this piece, I read quite a bit about the crash and the state of mind Michael Hastings might have been in before it happened. … There was only a talented, troubled man struggling with addiction and depression who lost his life in a car accident resulting from driving too fast.”
    . . .

    Yesterday, Dennis Romero wrote “as Gene Maddaus’ excellent feature [“Michael Hastings' Dangerous Mind: Journalistic Star Was Loved, Feared and Haunted’] in the latest issue of LA Weekly demonstrates, the L.A.-based writer had people around him who were truly concerned about his state of mind and reported drug use.”

    Maddaus’ paints a picture of Hastings as a journalist who was “both brilliant and troubled,” who had relapsed into drug use and suffered from PTSD and paranoia. As a man struggling with his demons, with his mental health deteriorating in the weeks leading up to his death. For example, Maddaus wrote:

    “Interviews with friends as well as the coroner’s report suggest that Hastings’ mental health was deteriorating. … Hastings hung out with The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill when the reporter was in town promoting his documentary “Dirty Wars.” In May, Hastings was invited to a salon at director Oliver Stone’s house … “He seemed a little stressed …” A certain level of lighthearted paranoia would be unremarkable in such company [Cenk] Uygur says, “We joked that night that, if Scahill was there, we would have definitely had a drone strike on the house.”

    Maddaus’ piece is well-written, emotionally compelling and persuasive (and even had me convinced for about a day). However, after taking a closer look at the LAPD reports and his profile, I feel a bit suckered. I now think his portrait of Hastings as a “haunted soul” was too speculative, too thinly sourced, and “cherry-picked” quotes that supported his narrative (and omitted those that did not).

    I haven’t yet had time to analyze the piece in detail. But, today I found what appears to be an egregious example of his omitting Jeremy Scahills’ impressions of Hastings shortly before his death because they didn’t fit into his narrative.

    From the chronology of the above quote, a reader would assume that Hastings hung out with Jeremy Scahill sometime before the May salon at Oliver Stones’ house. However, they got together after the Oliver Stone salon, on JUNE 12, 2013 (just five days before Hastings’ death). Hasting spent that evening attending Scahills’ LA film premiere, the Q & A session, and then they hung out watching Scahill’s appearance on The Tonight Show. It was probably his last public appearance (and was the last time he tweeted).

    So, did Scahill’s recollection of that evening suggest that “Hastings’ mental health was deteriorating”? No. In his June 19th Hastings’ eulogy, Michael Caledrone wrote that Scahill described Hasting’s as “totally full of life” that night:

    “Nearly one week ago [June 12, 2013], Jeremy Scahill and several friends were hanging out in a Los Angeles hotel room to watch his taped appearance on the “The Tonight Show.” One of those friends was Michael Hastings … Scahill chatted with Jay Leno that night about “Dirty Wars,” his revealing new documentary … ‘He was so warm and effusive and excited, as if we’d just won the Super Bowl … was giddy that someone from our tribe had made it on one of those shows.’ … Scahill recalled Hastings talking excitedly last week about stories he was working on, including ones about the NSA. Hastings also spoke about the property he wanted to buy in Vermont. ‘Totally full of life,’ he said.”

    Just five nights later, Hasting’s died in a fiery car crash. Why did Maddaus merely mention and then quickly pass over Scahill’s night in LA? Was he unaware of Caledrones’ eulogy (although the use of the similar phrases “hung out” and “hanging out” suggests that he had read it)? Or, did he decide to omit Scahill’s “totally full of life” remarks since they didn’t fit into his narrative of a “haunted soul”?

    Either way, Scahill’s account calls into question Maddaus’ speculation that Hasting’s mental health deteriorating in the weeks leading up to his death, and the accuracy of his profile. Ultimately, Maddaus’ “haunted” portrait might be found to be accurate, but I’ll need to read accounts by Hastings’ close family, friends, colleagues, and Elise Jordan before reaching conclusions.
    . . .

    For more details, see the following chapters (a work-in-progress; some sections are done, others are mostly notes and citation links): “Michael Hasting’s Fiery Car Crash: Accident or Assassination?” and “The Character Assassination of Michael Hastings,” in the post “More Lies Borne Out By Facts, If Not the Truth” at the Feral Firefighter blog at http://www.feralfirefighter.blogspot.com/

  23. @ Peter – You say the Loudlabs reporter was hired. By whom? For what purpose? Why would an assassin go to all the trouble of hacking or rigging a car and at the same time ensure the hit is documented?

    Also, if the Loudlabs reporter was hired, what about the footage from Mozza? Were they hired as well?

    The way I see it, the statistical probability of this being an accident is virtually 100. Tens of thousands of people die in car crashes every year. Thousands of cars burn every year. However, 0 people that we know of have ever died as a result of their car being hacked and driven into a tree.

    • Peter Angermeier says:

      Thanks, Mike.

      It’s no secret that McChrystal’s people told Michael that they were going to kill him. Likely others felt the same way.

      The guys who planned this work with private contractors outside the US gov’t. For more on that see the info leaked by Snowden making the rounds. It’s shocking to know how many loose cannons in this shadow world have access to top secret, and other, private information. So the strike operation would have been farmed out to one of these outfits, and then further down the road, so it could not be traced back.

      It is a habit of those military types who organize these strikes to film them, either as they happen (drones) or after the fact (BDA= bomb damage assessment). For the purpose of documenting the level of success, or failure, of the operation. You might be able to imagine how much fun it would be for them to watch it. After planing this for years, and waiting for the right, vulnerable moment. So they could have easily found an “independent news reporter” with all the necessary gear ready to go, and placed him at the scene at the perfect time. Because they were tracking him.

      He had his camera running, for god’s sake. I doubt he’d run it all night, just hoping to get lucky. It was ON.

      And then they close down shop (twitter, website) after the fact, so it doesn’t trace back.

      The MOZZA footage is far different, because it’s a stationary camera that’s always on. Can’t be hired out, positioned elsewhere, turned on/off, and the use can’t be planned.
      Not a factor here, as to cause.

      Of course people die in cars all the time.

      Few, however, after bringing down a top military official. Even fewer were threatened with death by members of the US military before they died. Still fewer sent out an e-mail saying they were on to a big story, and being investigated by the FBI, the day they died.
      Even fewer were documented saying to a neighbor that they were afraid to, or concerned about, driving their car the day they died.

      What does that do to “statistical probability”?

      In fact, since you quote traffic death stats, please, just give me one that’s even remotely similar.

      Thanks.

      -Peter

      • It wasn’t his camera, it was his dashcam. You know those Russian videos of spectacular car accidents? Those are all dashcam videos. The thing is recording all the time, that’s the point of it.

        And if he’d been hired to document “the hit” then he failed, because all he got was the speeding car and the aftermath.

        As I said in my piece, the only evidence that his car was tampered with or that the FBI was after him was Hastings saying it, possibly under the influence or suffering from depression. And wild threats from McChrystal staffers notwithstanding, if the military was going to kill Hastings, there are far easier and less public ways to do it.

        • gymgoki says:

          A car accident is a great way to kill someone. A mysterious disappearance would draw the curious. A car accident is too common.

      • Robrob says:

        “In fact, since you quote traffic death stats, please, just give me one that’s even remotely similar.”

        There are roughly 32,000 traffic fatalities each year. What specific “similarities” are you looking for? Speeding car losing control, car hitting a tree, engine being ejected, etc…?

        • Peter Angermeier says:

          Thanks, Robrob. Please read my post again, from “Few, however……”

          The similarities I was looking for have to do with all of the events leading up to the crash. These events are documented, and not in dispute. Because we’ve already established here that there is no proof either way, we’re left to decide, somehow, what it all could mean. For myself, that’s based on probability.

          And, as gbell12 said, your assertion would HAVE to be that all of the events here are commonplace, and, that it’s more likely than not that they all happened together.

          And, because you take that position, in all fairness, I would ask you to show me a car crash where the events leading up to that crash are even remotely similar to this one, since these events are so commonplace.

          It’s not sophistry. It’s logic, and probability.

  24. I’m a journalist and I once witnessed a fatality accident. Good thing I didn’t have a dashcam or it would have proved that I murdered him.

    • Peter Angermeier says:

      Or it would have proved that you were (maybe innocently) hired to document the hit organized by someone else.

      • PeterJ says:

        No, a person witnessing a fatality accident with a running dashcam doesn’t prove that that person was hired to document a hit.

        • Peter Angermeier says:

          Of course not. Not by itself…………..but if you look at my post from 11:32 today, taken in totality, it is highly unlikely that this entire sequence of events occurs innocently.

          • PeterJ says:

            Unlikely does not mean impossible. And reading your 11:32 post, it is lacking any proof that the US military or members of the US military have killed Hastings.

          • catherinestreet says:

            You are wasting your breath Peter, your logic has been very clear and convincing. It can’t convince someone who is not interested in evaluating things objectively.

            Absolutely, that he was upset and worried that his car was tampered with, and anxious about the work he was doing because of its importance, along with his having been told that he’d be hunted down and killed if he printed something they didn’t like by men who have been involved in much killing (a credible threat) are factors that change the weight of other parts of the story ~

      • Robrob says:

        Argument based on “maybe?”

    • gbell12 says:

      No Brian, it wouldn’t prove it. You’re straw-manning Peter A’s argument.

      Again, we’re confusing probabilities with proof.

      There is no proof either way. Everybody should stop shooting down conjecture based on possibilities and probabilities by saying “that’s not proof”.

      Since we don’t have enough evidence for proof we’re left arguing probabilities. Peter’s point is that it is improbable this was an accident based on the coincidences and suspicious circumstances. We should be sceptical of the official story.

      The only rational counter-argument would be to claim all of the circumstances that point to it being possible he was murdered are common or likely to have all occurred together.

  25. Chuckie888 says:

    Ahhh, how meticulously, how lovingly, Rothschild frames his evil little lies.

    Dress lightly. You wont need much wardrobe where you’re going…

  26. Paul M says:

    Your post just proves there is much more investigation needed. Nothing else. The title of you post is misleading, you have not proved anything.

    KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS EVERYONE.

    Not convinced, I smell something rotten….stones need to be turned.

  27. Ayn says:

    Wait Wait! You mean to tell me there is a reporter named Rothschild who writes articles to attempt to debunk conspiracy theories which lead back to NWO Rothchilds? You’re kidding , right?

  28. This is the worst attempt at “debunking” a conspiracy I have ever seen! It’s like you used points that I’ve never even heard mentioned to make your case. Not once have I seen anyone claim he was going 35 mph. You also clearly leave out the possibility of a car being hacked; a quick Google search will show you that hacking a vehicles computer is something even a group of college kids can do with the right equipment. Cut brakes? More like overriding the ABS system. Please, do us a favor and get better at making a case before you try to debunk something. Reading your story was like listening to an atheist and a devout Christian having a debate: “You can’t prove God exists!”, shouts the atheist. “You can’t prove God doesn’t exist!”, shouts the Christian. Yeah, it was that bad.

  29. bluhousworker says:

    How did the vehicle malfunction? Is exploding on impact the malfunction or is speeding the malfunction? What is the probability of a Mercedes exploding on impact and the engine flying out of the car approximately one hundred feet? These are the only things I care about in this case. I would first like to explain these two events before moving on to any type of conspiracy because that’s the proof the “official” report is a hack job or intentionally skewed.

    • Peter Angermeier says:

      Hi there………..b h w !

      You hit on the central point when you mentioned “probability”. Because we must decide, in the absence of direct proof at this point, what the most likely cause may have been.

      The more thoughtful posts above, over the last three months, deal with that reality.

      And you’ll know, by reading mine, where I stand on that.

      Cheers!

      -Peter A

    • The “probability” of the car hitting the tree or exploding or whatever is irrelevant. It happened. People drive into trees all the time, and sometimes when they do it at a really high speed, their cars burst into flames. The piece I wrote has links to numerous such examples.

      • gbell12 says:

        Goodness, Mike. Probability is not irrelevant. Was the incident a 1 in 10 sort of event? If so, no investigation is required. We might even call that ‘common’. Was the incident a 1 in 10,000,000 event? Then investigation warranted.

  30. bluhousworker says:

    Also I would like to mention, that characterizing Micheal Hastings as a child, someone who enjoys hitting the hornets nest, implies that reporters should be less intrusive and more accommodating to government or military or doctors or tyrants or spineless tools. Thanks for your service.

  31. Seems this writer’s audience is rather fawning. It is obvious for many reasons that Michael Hastings was murdered. Too bad for the lack of honest forensic training among the “skeptoids.” :)

  32. truth got ya says:

    good to know the liars and skeptics continually duck surveillance footage proving hastings’s vehicle exploded before any tree impact occurred, completely corroborating eyewitness accounts.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I appreciate the logical analysis, but you seem to over play some facts and discount others. You are trying to sell me “reefer madness” while glossing over the crash scene. I have been in Automotive engineering my entire life and I don’t think the limited evidence supports a crash. And I notice you haven’t redacted the fact the FBI lied about investigating Hastings. The fact that they were investigating him and sought lie about it is now undisputable which puts into question much of your source material, ie the approved government source.

  34. Doug says:

    You almost had me believing you until your comment on flt 800, then I rralized you either do not know or do not want to know the truth…watch this and learn! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=2wxgyUyvpRs

  35. Peter Angermeier says:

    Mike, you need to hear this. It’s almost a year old. If the DOD says it can be done, and Richard Clarke says it can be done, and you see it here live, which you will, and you still resist the idea, in this case in particular, well………………………

  36. To “Larry SIlverstein” – I deleted some of your more off-topic, copyright violating (ie, the Hastings story you cut-and-pasted from Rolling Stone), endlessly rambling and/or anti-Semitic comments. If you have something concise to say about Michael Hastings’ death, please go ahead and post it.

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