Newest Remote Car Hacking Raises More Questions About Reporter’s Death - WhoWhatWhy

Newest Remote Car Hacking Raises More Questions About Reporter’s Death

Michael Hastings Facebook Photo Photo credit: Facebook
Reading Time: 3 minutes

As readers of WhoWhatWhy know, our site has been one of the very few continuing to explore the fiery death two years ago of investigative journalist Michael Hastings, whose car left a straight segment of a Los Angeles street at a high speed, jumped the median, hit a tree, and blew up.

Our original report described anomalies of the crash and surrounding events that suggest cutting-edge foul play—that an external hacker could have taken control of Hastings’s car in order to kill him. If this sounds too futuristic, a series of recent technical revelations has proven that “car hacking” is entirely possible. The latest just appeared this week.

Hackers, seeking to demonstrate the vulnerability of automobiles to remote attacks, were able to largely take over the Jeep Cherokee driven by a writer for the tech magazine Wired:

Their code is an automaker’s nightmare: software that lets hackers send commands through the Jeep’s entertainment system to its dashboard functions, steering, brakes, and transmission, all from a laptop that may be across the country.

They were able to make his car decelerate suddenly, causing the writer to “narrowly avert death” at the hands of a semi-trailer coming up behind him.

In an earlier demonstration, they had been able to do similar things with other vehicles:

In the summer of 2013, I drove a Ford Escape and a Toyota Prius around a South Bend, Indiana, parking lot while they sat in the backseat with their laptops, cackling as they disabled my brakes, honked the horn, jerked the seat belt, and commandeered the steering wheel.

All of this is increasingly drawing the attention—and action— of the authorities. U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, introduced legislation Tuesday seeking to establish federal standards for security and privacy of drivers in today’s computer-laden cars.

What we do not hear is any discussion about whether the risk has gone beyond the realm of possibility…to a reality.

What About Hastings?

Back when Michael Hastings died, former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke—by all accounts a sober, no-nonsense man—said that the Hastings’s crash was “consistent with a car cyber attack” and that it was likely that intelligence agencies knew “how to remotely seize control of a car.”

It is worth noting, too, that the day before his death, Hastings had “urgently” requested to borrow his neighbor’s car—he wanted to get out of town, but he feared his own car was being tampered with.

How is it then that “mainstream” publications, including even Wired, do not talk about the very odd circumstances surrounding the death of a journalist who had made powerful enemies? Did the fact that he had caused a famed general to be fired, that he was investigating the CIA chief, that he told colleagues he himself was being investigated by the FBI—did none of this at least raise the slightest suspicion on the part of our journalistic community? How about the fiery explosion when his car hit a palm tree—which automotive experts say should not normally take place; what about the fact that the engine flew out of the vehicle and landed a considerable distance away–which, again, we are told, is highly unusual?

As with so many of these things, the authorities raced to conclude that it was all an unfortunate accident and that there was no more to the story. And virtually the entirety of journalism—Left, Right and Center, Mainstream and “Alternative”—accepted this conclusion without so much as a hint of skepticism.

So, now that it has been dramatically demonstrated that accidents can be caused remotely by those targeting a driver, will we see other media stepping up to take a good hard look at the key question: What really happened to Michael Hastings? We hope so, but we aren’t taking any bets.

Where else do you see journalism of this quality and value?

Please help us do more. Make a tax-deductible contribution now.

Our Comment Policy

Keep it civilized, keep it relevant, keep it clear, keep it short. Please do not post links or promotional material. We reserve the right to edit and to delete comments where necessary.


44 responses to “Newest Remote Car Hacking Raises More Questions About Reporter’s Death”

  1. Avatar says:

    He was told by the aides of McChrystal “We’ll hunt you down and kill you if we don’t like what you write”. Some time later he is murdered in LA (not the first time a political assassination has occurred in that city) and none of his other reporter colleagues ask any questions?

  2. Avatar Carl Polizzi says:

    Michael Hastings,Andy Brietbart and Tom Clancy were working on a book together, had the Saudi intelligence banking records paying for Barry Soetoro’s college expenses and tuition, reported by Dr. Steven Pieczenik.

  3. Avatar Carolyn says:

    If I were an evil guy, I wouldn’t kill off my enemy till I had learned all that he knew about my wrongdoing and who told him. I would want to cover up or destroy any proof of my involvement in his demise and yet use the incident to scare others who may also be trying to expose me. The Hastings death scenario allows for all these requirements.

    Before his car drove off, Hastings could have been kidnapped and taken away for interrogation. Someone else, or someone else’s body, could have been placed in his remotely-controlled car. Driving it into a tree at high speed and making it explode and burn would have ensured that the body in the car was so mangled that it could not be easily identified. After Hastings, back at the interrogation site, has told all he knows or has died under torture (two weeks went by after his ‘death’ and before his family got his body, I read), his body could have been put through an explosion and fire so cause of death would look like that of the substitute’s body, with signs of torture indistinguishable from signs of such a violent wreck. Then cremate him and send his remains to his family so they can identify it by DNA as truly him. Any toxicology tests needed could have been done while he was still alive or just after his actual death, with results reported to be from the other body.

    Why has no secret cache of his information turned up? Knowlng he was being hunted, wouldn’t he have hidden it in a few places and left clues for his most trusted associates to find if he disappeared? Or did the bad guys get to them first?

  4. Avatar From Our Facebook Page says:

    (Comment by reader John Gionet) It’s a very strange circumstance when everything is put into context. The story itself is crazy, but then the media GREATLY exaggerated the toxicology report with piles of misleading headlines, after barely covering the crash to begin with.

  5. Avatar hvaiallverden says:

    I seen an litle explosive charge sett in the engine compartment since the engine was situated and located another place, weirdness number one.
    Modern Mercs and Germen cars have drive by wire, aka electrical engine instead of the ordinary stearing shaft and so on, drive by wire is the clue.

    The second is the blackbox or the sentral CPU in the Merc, where is it, if it was tampered its shows, it keeps statistics so it should be there, and anything going thru an CPU stays there, the same as to an ordinary PC HD.

    And if someone did think of this before now, I am amazed, old SAABs and VOLVOS have this system attaced to the Cruice controll and so on 30 years ago, but not to affect the stearing, since they dont operate with Drive by wire.

    I belive He was wacked, profs, obviously, a follow car to, but stil and comsy job, the problem is the MSM, He was taken out by a hitt team.


  6. Avatar doryinaz says:

    I’ve been wondering the same thing!

  7. Avatar Steve Sperdacion says:

    I have had remote control cars since I was a little kid. Is it really considered shocking new technology that they can do the same thing with a big real car? Same with remote control planes on 9/11, those 19 terrorists didn’t have the skills to do the attacks but someone who did could have easily remote controlled them. And back then talk of drones were known but considered “conspiracy theories” well why? it’s not like it’s outside the realm os possibilities like god or aliens existing (show proof and then we can talk). But you can use your own eyes to see that remote control technology is old.

  8. Why would it need to be a computer across the country when it could be a mobile digital device anywhere on the Internet?

  9. Avatar ךɳҲ ɐщɐɓ ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ says:

    When you put remote-accessible computers in vehicles that are tied into control systems; what the Hell did they expect was going to happen!? I’m very let down people are so naive to blindly trust people and technology. This was always going to happen because they’ve been conditioning the public to accept the idea of networked computers in cars for multiple decades.

    My car will have no enabled computers, black boxes, or any remote access capability. And I will not be taxed by the mile. The vehicle will be wholly analog-electro-mechanical as it’s an antique from a time when people were responsible enough to care for their own well-being.

    • Then you already drive a vehicle which is over 15 years old, because that is when they started putting “enabled computers, black boxes, or any remote access capability” in them. I’m keeping my 2003 Ford E-150 van for the rest of my life, because they started putting that stuff in the 2005s.

    • Avatar ךɳҲ ɐщɐɓ ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ says:

      I don’t own the car I drive now. My last car was a 1999 Saab 9-5 which has a computer, but not remote access; and before that was a 1980 Jeep CJ-7, which I rebuilt twice over.

      I’m looking at and considering a decent 1970 Chevy Monte Carlo I found sitting in South Carolina. It’s 4k dollars and runs good but needs some body work. It might prove quite a task to rebuild but it would be damn fun.

    • The vast majority of Americans, particularly those who “bought” their first in college, have never owned a car. They took out a loan to buy their first one, and traded that one in on the next one, without ever paying one off, the lender owning each one, in sequence. The only car I ever owned that I ever made payments on was a 1974 Toyota Corolla that I bought off a beater lot which carried the note. All of the others have been paid for before I ever drove them, excepting the test drive.

    • Avatar ךɳҲ ɐщɐɓ ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ says:

      My family has always owned their own cars and bought them outright; but they were used cars. Buying a new car became stupid when the price exceeded 8K decades ago. Right now I’m using a 2002 Land Rover Discovery, bought last year for 6k. I believe buying new cars is a scam designed to place people in debt. The value of the vehicle drops drastically the moment it’s purchased; that’s strong evidence that it’s overpriced to begin with.

      My grandfather was the last person I remember buying a new car, but he could afford to buy them outright at a reasonable cost.

    • Gary North is a very intelligent and successful economist, and he buys used SUVs and minivans.
      IMO, it is never cost effective to buy any durable good new. Most consumer goods are a scam to get and keep people in debt. The internals of most cars change very little year to year, even though the bodies change every year, to maintain the status appeal.

  10. Avatar Chuckie8 says:

    Plus, when the coroner’s report stated that Hastings’ bloodwork (which showed metabolites of Rx pot — legal in California, and amphetamine — residue from his Adderall Rx) indicated that nothing he’d taken hours earlier had had a role in his crash death, all the mainstream media immediately spun it to sound like the exact opposite — that Hastings had somehow died the death of a drug-addled driver.

    Why would the MSM do this? Is it their contempt for Hastings and the fact that he did the job as reporter that they refused to do? Or was someone pulling their strings more directly? Or both? (Collective fear seems unlikely, as their reading of department press releases verbatim is all they do now).

    Given all the evidence of Hastings’ emails, his proclamations that a big story was forcing him to “go off the radar for a bit”, his fear of his car being tampered with, the oddities involving the crash itself, and the media ignoring and/or flipping their descriptions of what had happened (to say nothing of Richard Clarke’s blunt assertions that “whoever did it will problably get away with it”) this case has stunk from Day One for more reasons than you can almost even remember.

    No, not everything is a conspiracy, but this clearly, vividly is. And the carhacking issue, which has come up again this week even in the MSM (although they will never address it as it pertains to Michael Hastings, except perhaps to insist “it isn’t applicable” in his case) is just one more appalling element to ponder.

    But who do we point the finger at? The righties want to blame Obama (as if Obama knows what the Pentagon or intelligence community actually does in the shadows) and the lefties want to blame everybody else (and maybe rightly so).

    To my mind, the field is wide open. But the media’s handling/ignoring/lying/spinning this story in 2013 was more damning, more chilling than the actual footage of Michael’s crash.

    Which master are they serving? There are so many.

  11. Avatar Steve Sperdacion says:

    Thing is, they could have done this without this new hacking technology, for decades the CIA/FBI/whomever has known how to cut brake lines, put bombs in cars that go off when hit a certain speed etc. Why was he so dumb. He knew his car was likely compromised so why get in it? Likely he was killed beforehand then body put in the car which was then blown up with him inside. This hacking thing is disinfo, not even needed to explain what happened.

    • Avatar johndissed says:

      You are criticizing fact-based journalism using speculation and calling it disinfo. With no evidence to support your claims. Just because you can imagine a scenario doesn’t make it “likely.”

    • Avatar mpennery says:

      Um, isn’t the carjacking just speculation at this point as well?
      Steve makes a good point. Why get in a car he felt might be compromised? He could easily have been killed first, put in the car and then the car remotely driven to it’s final destination. That would explain why his body was cremated immediately, against the law and the wishes of family. It’s all speculation at this point…

    • Maybe he didn’t know what we know about the hackability of the modern car. He may have been our canary in a coalmine.

    • Avatar Steve Sperdacion says:

      he knew something was going on with his car which made him feel it was dangerous, the article says he said so in emails to friends . . . so then he gets right in it? I just doubt he is that stupid, he was an experienced reporter, reporting on war issues where killings happen all the time . . . not some moron.

    • He’s probably like most Americans, not initiated in the capabilities of information technology and remote control. It was after his death that Sixty Minutes and several other high profile outlets began reporting on remote controllable cars.

    • Avatar Steve Sperdacion says:

      does anyone really buy that? “I’ve never heard of remote controlled cars!” “I suspect someone is sabotaging my car and I will email my friends about it but oh yeah also get in the car because that makes sense”.

    • Have you never played with a radio controlled toy car? It is basically the same thing with a remote controlled car, using computers instead of simple radio frequency servos, and having control over any part of the vehicles so equipped. Start looking under the hoods of modern cars and you will find some that don’t have a metal rod running from the steering wheel to the steering gearbox. The connection from the accelerator pedal to the butterfly valve in a carburetor disappeared long ago. Have you ever heard of a throttle position sensor? That is a potentiometer that tells the computer controlling your fuel injection how far down you are pushing the accelerator pedal, so it knows how fast you want to go.

  12. Avatar From Our Facebook Page says:

    (Comment by reader Carol Hannan) It’s obvious he was murdered. How powerless we are because we have no one investigate the DOJ, or FBI, or any of them. They MURDERED him and laugh in our faces and we are too blind to see.

  13. Avatar From Our Facebook Page says:

    (Comment by reader Larry Rochelle) Journalists investigated the death of Dan Bowles by themselves back in 1978. We need gutsy reporters to band together each time a writer or journalist is murdered. I’m talking Hastings, Chris Kyle and Philip Marshall. Congress won’t do it. Obama won’t do it, the new AG won’t do it.

  14. Avatar From Our Facebook Page says:

    (Comment by reader Stephen Paul McCandless) One after another after another after another along with this, all of the rest of the evidence….is ignored…do we have a cap on our government….I think we ALL have to act!

  15. Avatar From Our Facebook Page says:

    (Comment by reader Dave Mac) There’s a lot of strange circumstances connected with Hastings’s death, and he pissed off some powerful people. I’ve always wondered why this was just sort of swept under the rug.

  16. Avatar From Our Facebook Page says:

    (Comment by reader Tom Sullivan) Is it possible this technology was installed so the government can murder anyone with reasonable deniability?

  17. Avatar From Our Facebook Page says:

    (Comment by reader Morgan Glenn) Uh hello. The naysayers have tiny belief systems that feel threatened by awkward truths. They try to explain away everything like good Coincidence Theorists. Michael challenged the military and was killed because of it. Period.

  18. Avatar Kathy says:

    You have stated no proof that a car can be made to accelerate as in the case of Hastings car speeding down the road into a tree? The engine being thrown is more representative of a bomb than that of tampering. This article seems to be a non sequitur as pertains to Michael Hasting’s death. I think he was killed— I just don’t think you’ve proved it. And why hasn’t Katherine Russell been charged in the Boston Bombing?

    • Avatar Steve Sperdacion says:

      well Katherine Russell obviously knew right, common sense says she had to but maybe they just don’t have the evidence against her so can’t charge her? The rule of law and democracy means she must go free even though guilty? Cuz they had tons of proof against Djokar (don’t ask to see it though it’s classified).

    • Avatar johndissed says:

      The point of the article wasn’t to “prove it,” but to help build a case for a real investigation, and to point out the fact (again) that despite evidence, the media refuses to look at things from any other perspective than the official one.

      Acceleration is mentioned in this report: which was linked to in an earlier WWW article:

      “In their initial tests with a laptop and two MY2010 vehicles from different manufacturers, they were able to cause cars to suddenly accelerate, turn, kill the brakes, activate the horn, control the headlights, and modify the speedometer and gas gauge readings.”

    • Since you have a certain level of explosive knowledge, how much force would be required to throw the engine as far as it was, and how would you direct such an explosion in an engine compartment?

  19. Avatar Chris Jonsson says:

    I always suspected that Hastings car was sabotaged. He was too good at his job. What a shame they took him from us as were many others were too.

  20. (Comment by reader @PierceAeroOne) Kids at UCSD, right next to where I live, were doing this as early as 2010, & talking about it on the bus. Kids!

  21. Avatar lofty1 says:

    “will we see other media stepping up to take a good hard look at the key question: What really happened to Michael Hastings?” Maybe there are…just not openly. No sense in inviting a car hack.

  22. Avatar sfulmer says:

    Information has to be actionable. Audience must be ready to mobilize.

  23. I’m going to repeat what seems to keep getting deleted on this suject://
    FBI=villains, Homeland Security=villains, Patriot Act=villains,
    CIA=villains, Major media= puppets of villains, Dept of Justice=high
    paid villains, in other words an honest man has no chance to do anything
    about villains because of all the villains!!!!!!!

  24. Avatar Charles Reece says:

    When the late journalist, Danny Casolaro, back in 1991, had revealed to a trusted “friend” that he was about ready to “blow the lid”, so to speak, off of the BCCI scandal — and what he called “The Octopus” — a global mafia-type white-collar-crime cabal; that tragically, the next night, he was found “dead” in a hotel in Martinsburg, West Virginia; a supposed “suicide”, by having supposedly cut his own wrists.
    In similar fashion, Michael Hastings revealed to a “friend”, the night before his death, that he was about to reveal one of the most damning skull-doggery secrets of the FBI and CIA. Whatever it was that he knew, somehow, the “Shadow Government” was already keeping “tabs” on him; and got to him before he could reveal what the “Powers-that-Be” did not want Hastings to reveal……..
    And killed him by hacking and taking control of the computer system of his automobile.

    • A blind could SEE this is a murder to shut down a journalist permanently! Pretty soon there won’t be any investigative reporters left that have the stones to tackle the stories that need to be brought out in the open, and you know what the worst part of this nightmare is. Nobody seems to care, because nobody wants to ‘die young’. If 100,000 thousand people march on the capitol and demand action, who will listen and who will do anything to correct the problem. What a mess and nobody able to clean it up. Never thought I’d see America like this and unfortunately it seems to be worldwide. Seems like a long range plan is just about in place. Get used to the phrase ‘puppet master’ all you puppets out there!

    • Avatar stevor says:

      and then there’s all the “accidents” and “suicides” related to the clintons and the o’bamas

  25. Avatar SSG Joe Biggs says:

    maybe I wasnt crazy after all to think this could happen……hmmm

  26. The journalistic community is scared and rightly so. The people that have taken over whole governments are VERY powerful and totally ruthless. People think this ‘reality’ is some kind of ‘movie’, and just go on about their lives like robots. Even looking at what I’m typing seems to be something a madman would be doing. Unfortunately I’m MAD, but not deranged. All people need to get together and take a massive demonstration to the streets demanding a change, especially in government, and please don’t bring back the same names over and over again and put them into office of power. Jail yes, ‘public’ office, NO. There’s a very real conspiracy going on around the world that must be stopped NOW. Vote for honest people, not professional crooks like we have now. Sounds like the ‘Twilight Zone’ and that’s just why ‘they’ can get away with murder. Truth and honesty seem like dirty words in these present times!

    • Avatar saturnx311 says:

      First and foremost, the election process has to be restored. We have to ENSURE that the counting of votes happens in public as it was meant to in the US. This counting of votes in secrecy is nothing more than FRAUD. They throw out votes they don’t want to allow as happened in 2012 when Ron Paul won the Iowa caucus. The Republicans (they are not the only dirty-tricks party though, Democrats do it as well) simply tossed out the overseas military vote, which he won, and any county across the country that he won.
      Obama was born, bred and selected for the “job” of president.
      He is but the face of a huge beast that must be killed. It’s taken over behind the scenes and we can stop it, but only by forgetting all the false divisions created among us by this cabal, and uniting on one principle: taking our nation BACK.

  27. Avatar jane24 says:

    Thanks for continuing to question this highly suspicious “accident.” I both deplore and actually fail to understand why the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Michael Hastings has, at least thus far, received so little attention from the media. Imho the scenario suggested here seems very plausible.

    • Their killing off the ‘media’ that your waiting on. That’s the rip!

    • Avatar jane24 says:

      I gave up on most of the media a long time ago. Bought and paid for by the same corporations that bought and pay for the USG so no hope there. Even the few independents, (with the exception of WWW), remaining seem disinclined to focus too closely upon what befell Michael Hastings.

    • So true and so sad. You realize this is a very bad situation for America.

    • Avatar stevor says:

      they’ve been told to NOT investigate or they’ll get the same “accident”

    • Avatar jane24 says:

      Perhaps not even “told”? The implication of consequences may have been enough…