Mystery grows: Journalist died prepping Obama exposé
NEW YORK – Before his death in a fiery car crash, Michael Hastings was preparing to publish a major investigative piece tied to the undercover agent who is suspected of sanitizing President Obama’s passport records prior to the 2008 presidential election.
Hastings, 33 years old at the time of his death, wrote for Gentleman’s Quarterly, Rolling Stone and Buzzfeed, reporting on national security issues.
His June 2010 article in Rolling Stone featuring remarks highly critical of the Obama administration made by Gen. Stanley McChrystal — then the commander of allied forces in Afghanistan — led to President Obama relieving McChrystal of command.
Reported drug use
The autopsy two months after Hastings’ death found small amounts of amphetamine in his blood, suggesting he may have taken methamphetamine several hours before his death. Traces of marijuana also suggested Hastings had smoked the drug hours before he had taken the methamphetamine.
Hastings died when his Mercedes, traveling at a high rate of speed, crossed into the median on a deserted Highland Avenue at 4:20 a.m. and struck a tree. The automobile burst into flames, charring Hastings’ body so badly that it took several days to make a positive identification.
Los Angeles newspapers have suggested Hastings had become obsessed with Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency’s massive domestic surveillance capabilities and with disclosures the Department of Justice had obtained of the phone records of Associated Press reporters.
His fiancée, Jordanna Thigpen, told the LA Weekly that just before his death, Hastings’ behavior had become erratic because of his increasing concerned that helicopters commonly seen in the Hollywood Hills were spying on him and that his Mercedes had been tampered with.
“He was scared, and he wanted to leave town,” Thigpen told the newspaper.
She recalled that the night before his death, Hastings asked Thigpen if he could borrow her Volvo because he was afraid to drive his own car.
Fox News reported family members told investigators that Hastings, who supposedly had been “sober” for 14 years, had begun using drugs the month before his death. The drugs included the hallucinogenic DMT, although it was not detected in a blood report conducted after the crash.
Fox News further reported a family member told investigators Hastings was seen passed out at home about three hours before the crash and that he had been smoking marijuana the night of the crash.
Investigators told Fox News that Hastings was found after the crash with a medicinal marijuana identity card in his wallet and that he apparently was using the drug to ease post-traumatic stress disorder experienced after his assignments in Afghanistan and Iraq.
San Diego 6 News has reported that a witness in a nearby business is claiming the explosion occurred before Hastings’ car hit the tree. An explosion before impact, which would slow down the vehicle, would explain the minimal damage observed on the palm tree. Other physical evidence at the crash site also is not consistent with a high-speed, out-of-control impact.