Chrysler Recalls Hackable Jeeps, Press Still Not Questioning Cause of Hastings Death

Mercedes, maker of the car Hastings Died in, Says Nothing

In a landmark decision, Fiat Chrysler has recalled 1.4 million Jeep Cherokees after tests showed that the cars could be remotely hacked — but most news outlets have still failed to question the mysterious death of journalist Michael Hastings, who said his car showed signs of being manipulated. Photo credit: Jeep Cherokee: (CONCAVO WHEELS / Flickr), Code (*n3wjack's world in pixels / Flickr)
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Recently,  the Los Angeles Times  noted the landmark action taken taken by Fiat Chrysler to recall 1.4 million Jeep Cherokees, after tests showed the cars could be remotely hacked.

Researchers demonstrated a software vulnerability in the Jeep’s Uconnect dashboard computers. By hacking into a Jeep driven by a Wired  magazine writer, they were able to commandeer the dashboard functions as well as the steering, transmission, and brakes.

This suggests that people like former US counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke — and a handful of outfits including WhoWhatWhy  — were onto something in raising the possibility of foul play in Michael Hastings’s death.

Back in June 2013 Hastings was driving his car when it suddenly sped up, veered off the road, jumped the median, and crashed into a tree, exploding into flames with such violence that the engine was sent flying more than a hundred feet from the chassis. Based on the published reports of what happened, Richard Clarke has said:

I’m not a conspiracy guy. In fact, I’ve spent most of my life knocking down conspiracy theories. But my rule has always been you don’t knock down a conspiracy theory until you can prove it [wrong]. And in the case of Michael Hastings, what evidence is available publicly is consistent with a car cyberattack. And the problem with that is you can’t prove it.

While Chrysler expeditiously recalled its vulnerable cars, Mercedes — the company that made Hastings’s car — has taken no action and offered no reassurance that their cars are unhackable.

Closing the Case

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The site of Michael Hastings’s deadly car crash with a sign that reads, “This was not an accident.” Some suspect Hastings’s car had been hacked, but most news outlets have failed to seriously consider the possiblity. Photo credit: Lord Jim/Flickr

After a relatively brief investigation, law enforcement declared Hastings’s death an “accident” and marked the matter closed– way too fast, according to observers like Clarke, given the suspicious circumstances. These included:

1. The odd behavior of Hastings’s Mercedes in the moments before the crash.

2. Hastings’s prior observations suggesting the car had been tampered with.

3. While an autopsy was performed on the victim, as far as is known no attempt was made to rule out manipulation of the car’s computers. Yet, Hastings’s death was declared, with inappropriate certainty, an “accident.”

4. If the car had been hacked, it would have been almost impossible to prove — or disprove–since the onboard computers were melted down in the fiery crash.

5. Just before his death, in an email entitled “FBI Investigation, re: NSA,” Hastings said the FBI was interviewing his close associates, and advised the recipients, including his colleagues at Buzzfeed, to request legal counsel if the FBI tried to question them.

6 Motive: In that same email, Hastings said he was “onto a big story” and warned his friends that he had to go off the radar for a while. Was this investigation threatening to  higher-ups in government security agencies? His investigations tended to be successful.

7 Motive: Hastings had angered people at the highest levels of the US military; his award-winning reporting led to the forced resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, NATO Commander in Afghanistan.

A Remotely Manipulated Press?

Together, these points should be enough to raise questions about the “accident.” Yet, with only a few exceptions, the media has shown little interest in probing deeper into  what may have been a spectacular and fatal car hacking on the streets of Los Angeles.

Apparently, neither Wired, nor the Los Angeles Times, nor CNN, nor the New York Times, nor virtually any other major journalistic enterprise, no matter how “cool” or “edgy,” can bring itself to investigate the possibility that a car hacking might have been used to silence a journalist famous for digging into the secrets of powerful people and institutions.

Not even the “ballsy” Buzzfeed, which gets admiring coverage in other media for its much-hyped expansion into “serious” journalism, saw fit to publish a serious investigation into the death of its own correspondent.

Instead, the media rushed to dig up  negative scuttlebutt about Hastings — of the sort that can be dredged up about many people — to paint a picture of a reckless man who would and could cause his own death, no less in this unlikely and spectacular scenario.

The pressure not to break from the consensus “accident or lone nut” scenario on potential “security state” killings has always been intense, as the Kennedy clan knows only too well.

In its November 10, 2013 issue, New York Magazine went out of its way to ridicule those who question the official cause of Hastings’s death: “On Twitter and Reddit and in the febrile swamps of websites like InfoWars and Prison Planet, there was heated squabbling about ‘the official narrative’ and false-flag operations and staged accident scenes.” (This is how they wrote about skeptics of the government-approved version of the Kennedy assassination. Their formula seems to be: hardsell the official story, ignore evidence that undermines it, and display contempt toward those who question it. They should be, at the very least, agnostic).

CNN even got Hastings’s widow to go on television for an interview in which she disavowed any  “conspiracy” theories. Before the investigation in her husband’s death was completed, Mrs. Hastings, who once worked for Condoleezza Rice at George W. Bush’s National Security Council, revealed that her gut told her it was just a “tragic accident.”
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Now that Wired has proven, and Chrysler has admitted, that the ability to hack a car isn’t just a wild speculation, it’s  time for the media to put some investigative muscle into unpacking the truth behind the surely tragic but not necessarily accidental death of Michael Hastings.

Go here to read WhoWhatWhy’s past coverage of the Hastings case. We’ve been on it since the beginning.

Related front page panorama photo credit: Jeep Cherokee (Day Donaldson / Flickr), “Hacker” (Erich Stüssi / Flickr)

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13 responses to “Chrysler Recalls Hackable Jeeps, Press Still Not Questioning Cause of Hastings Death”

  1. Here we are. It’s the 17th of August 2015. There was a traffic accident in Maryland that just happened. Here’s a snippet://

    [ Maryland state police said he
    was killed late Sunday night after his customized Lamborghini broke down
    on an interstate highway and stopped, partially in the fast lane.

    Robinson,
    who was not wearing his costume at the time, had gotten out of the car
    and was checking the engine when another vehicle collided with his,
    according to authorities.

    The
    driver of the other car, a 39-year-old man, was not injured during the
    collision and no charges have been filed, police said. A spokeswoman for
    the state police said an investigation into the crash will take about
    30 days.]

    30 days for an investigation that’s pretty much cut and dried. Two days for Hastings and then shut the case, finish, done, thank-you very much, bye bye! Is it just me, or is there something amiss here? Just an observation.

    • KaraZorEl_94 says:

      Damn I missed the story about Batman, had no idea he got killed. Odd guy, but made lots of kids happy I bet.
      But you are right – that Hastings thing seemed like a done deal within days. One would think the LAPD has as many good resources as Maryland State Police.

  2. Clare Kuehn says:

    Ha.

    Hastings was also blown apart, well, his car was, about 100 yards away from the tree. https://youtu.be/3LSY3wVuASg?t=4m58s

  3. doryinaz says:

    This will never happen…”they” made their point…. No other journalist wants to become Michael Hastings…(or Brieitbart, or Tom Clancy…etc, etc, etc)

  4. (Comment by reader @TruthAnchorNews) Unquestionable he was on fire driving down the street before he hit anything

    • danny j says:

      Unquestionable the car was traveling at high speeds before the crash.

      The question is whether or not Hastings was driving it at the time.

  5. You know what’s really strange! After all the ‘devious’ actions, that for sure were carried out by the government, still nobody seems to take it seriously. Are people really that dense? What’s being taught in Universities? Does any body still think that Lee Harvey Oswald was the ‘lone gunman’? How about 9/11. How about what the government shoved down the throats of the population when they said that they ‘killed a terrorist leader’ who’d already been dead for more than 9 years. And these outrageous actions are just a small piece of the whole picture. I mean anyone who investigates the history leading up too Mr Hastings murder, can only walk away with the knowledge that there is people who kill when asked by the powers that be. Maybe that’s the reason the ‘mainstream media’ is so worthless. Their all afraid that if they really do the job that’s supposed to be done, they’ll end up dead. If you really search, there’s been quite a few journalists that have died in some pretty strange circumstances. Think about it! And I want to say to all the people who are saying to themselves right now; “This guy’s a real conspiracy nut-case”, that it’s a real shame when the truth is considered bad, and that’s the TRUTH!

    • punkyboy says:

      The surest way to stop critical investigation into anything is to label it a “conspiracy theory” and those advocating such investigation as “conspiracy nuts.” Works every time.

    • a registered nurse says:

      Yep. Google FightGangStalking dot com

      The name — “gang stalking” is ridiculous, but the site nails the tactics. The topic/subject is mired in disinformation, with the mentally ill providing plenty of cover. No one will touch it — it’s ust another crazy “conspiracy theory.” Meanwhile, it’s killing people.

    • editorsteve says:

      He was almost certainly the only gunmen, but backed by a substantial and real conspiracy. Talk about other gunmen is just a distraction from the conspiracy itself.

    • You have no idea what you are talking about. I suggest you do your ‘homework’ before you spout off statements like that. If you think that one lone gunman could do what went down on 11/22/1963, you must be mentally impaired. I feel sorry for you and all the people that share your views. It must hurt to go from human form to ‘brainwashed sheep’.

    • editorsteve says:

      Have you ever been to the site? Easy. Much more compact area than it would appear thru wide angle TV lens. And just for the record, this is the way conspiracy is done. Point of the spear is as sharp and small as possible. Fewer people to be exposed. But now you can fulminate all you want…

    • KaraZorEl_94 says:

      Matt Taibbi has made an interesting point about the 9/11 conspiracy. People mostly say that Cheney wanted 9/11 to happen so they could change civil liberties and attack Iraq. But really, when you consider that they went to the UN with all the information about Iraq, then the UN said “Nah, we don’t really buy it” and then they went and attacked Iraq anyway – which demonstrated that they didn’t need either 9/11 or the UN to attack Iraq. And proving in the end that “they can just do whatever the hell they want anyway”, and they did!
      Otherwise, I’m still not sure there was any strategic value to a false-flag 9/11, at least not an obvious or very valuable one. As much as the GOP thinks 9/11 made it strong, and for their mantra of “kept you safe,” 9/11 showed that they fumbled national security big time (denial of course), and eventually lost in 2012. And sure, 9/11 made the military industrial complex some money, but it also caused HUGE losses of money in every other sector globally. Those connected billionaires are all well diversified, so they’d have lost a ton and they couldn’t have made up the losses in such a small sector.

  6. (Comment by reader @JohnStauber) To my knowledge #MichaelHastings family has NEVER advocated for investigation of whether he was murdered. Why not?

    • Seattle_Bill says:

      Because they drive Jeeps and Mercedes.

    • doryinaz says:

      what Seattle-Bill said….and they don’t want to die, or have any of their loved one die…(any MORE OF THEIR LOVED ONES)….pure and simple self-preservation…