Digital carjackers met with Forbes reporter Andy Greenberg to demonstrate how they can program a Ford Escape’s computer systems and crash it pretty much by pushing a button. On Wednesday, Forbes posted the video to YouTube, and you’re probably going to want to watch it, so press that button.
Warning: For some reason Andy Greenberg thinks we want to know that he flew out to meet these dudes on an an airplane. I’ve seen enough airports in my life. If you have too, I advise you to skip ahead to about the 0.58 mark where we actually meet digital carjackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek.
The trio plus an unseen camera person test the 3,500 pound Ford Escape in the weedy parking lot of a South Bend, Indiana strip mall.
With Greenberg at the wheel, the digital carjackers mess with the reporter’s mind by making his dashboard show more gas in the car than he actually has or by making his speedometer read 199 miles per hour.
The scariest stunt involves making the brakes fail with a melodramatic bellow — fortunately at 5 miles per hour so that nobody is hurt.
There’s much, much more in Greenberg’s article available online as well in the August 12 issue of Forbes.
The takeaway seems to be that bad guys can mess with your car computer just like they can with any other computer. And I don’t see why not.
However, what Greenberg, Miller, and Valasek may — or may not — know is that they have just fueled the flames of a thousand burning candles of conspiracy.
From what I’ve seen of Los Angeles, that kind of death isn’t too unusual.
But some people have speculated that he was killed because of his opposition to what he called the surveillance state.
I have no reason to believe that’s true. Andy Greenberg doesn’t mention Michael Hastings in the video or the online copy of his article.
But YouTube viewers of the videos are not so circumspect. Comment after comment reads: “RIP Michael Hastings” or “Hum… so is this what they did to Hastings when he was assassinated by the government goons?”
Based on my research as a professionally licensed investigator with nearly 30 years of experience, I wish to be on record that it is my professional opinion that investigative journalist Michael Hastings was murdered.
It was exactly one month ago today, on June 18, 2013, that Hastings, 33, was killed in a single vehicle crash in the darkest hours of the night on a deserted Los Angeles city street. According to official reports, Mr. Hastings was the driver and sole occupant of a 2013 model CLK250 Mercedes Benz traveling south on Highland Avenue at a high rate of speed when he reportedly struck a palm tree located in the median on Highland Avenue, near the intersection of Melrose, at 4:20 a.m. Pacific Time. Also according to official reports, Mr. Hastings’ vehicle burst into flames upon impact, incinerating the vehicle and everything inside, including his body.
Michael Hastings was a correspondent for Newsweek and extensively covered the war in Iraq. He was also a reporter for BuzzFeed and a contributing editor to Rolling Stone Magazine. It was in 2010 when he gained widespread attention for his profile of General Stanley McChrystal, then-commander of NATO’s security force in Afghanistan, in a revealing report titled “The Runaway General.” It was this report that led to the general’s resignation for his contemptuous remarks about Barack Hussein Obama and Joseph Biden.
Although Mr. Hastings became well known for that article and reportedly received at least one credible death threat as a result, I do not believe that it was his previous work that led to his tragic and untimely death. The following will explain why.
Collaborative effort revealed
For the first time, I can publicly reveal that I’ve been working with a very experienced and well-respected professional investigator based in Los Angeles and licensed by the state of California. We began our collaboration on Friday, June 21, 2013 – about 72 hours after Mr. Hastings’ death. Since then, we’ve spent about 44 collective man-hours investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash that took the life of Mr. Hastings.
As our investigation is continuing and to avoid potentially compromising our continued efforts, we agreed that revealing his identity at this time would not be in the best interests of this investigation or for the security of those involved. After a review of findings to date, however, we agreed that an interim investigative report should be published.
Although this investigation has been a collaborative effort and we agree on the findings my Los Angeles based colleague requested complete anonymity, including interim references to any individual or collective analysis of findings. Therefore, the statements made in this report will be made in the first-person singular, with this writer presenting the findings as the public point of contact.
Summary of interim investigative findings
Based on careful analysis of the findings of all research and investigation conducted to date, it is my professional belief that investigative journalist Michael Hastings was murdered. This assertion is made based on extensive analysis of the crash site (in person, on-site analysis as well as a review of the photographic documentation taken at the time of the incident that exists both in and outside of public purview), statements made by associates of Mr. Hastings, and a number of other factors relating to the official investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, the coroner’s office, and other agencies and departments involved in the official investigation.
Associated with the above and contrary to public statements, it appears that the FBI, including but not limited to the U.S. Department of Justice might have played a role in directing parts of the official LAPD investigation. There is also an indication that the Department of Justice possibly sought and subsequently obtained certain records produced by the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Fire Department, as well as documentation produced by the coroner’s office.
Additionally, it is my professional opinion that his death was the direct result of research being conducted by Mr. Hastings concurrent with or at the time of his death. While there have been references made to at least one credible death threat related to his 2010 report pertaining to General Stanley McChrystal, nothing was found to suggest any direct connection between that threat or subject and his death.
According to most recent investigative findings, it appears that Mr. Hastings made multiple contacts with sources directly associated with the illegal NSA domestic spying program, and either recently acquired materials and/or information about the extent of, the targets of, and the recipients of the information of domestic spying program. It is speculated that the latter information was of particular concern to as yet unidentified individuals holding positions of authority within the U.S. Department of Defense and their subcontractors, as well as certain parties within the Executive branch of the United States government. Investigation and research suggests that Mr. Hastings might have obtained, or arranged to obtain information pertaining to the role of a particular high-ranking officer within the U.S. military overseeing the domestic aspects of the NSA project.
Additionally and relevant to the circumstances surrounding his death, I believe that Michael Hastings knew, or had reason to know, that he was under both investigation and surveillance of the FBI as well as the NSA at the time of his death. According to information provided to this investigator, at least two agents reportedly representing the FBI contacted an associate of Michael Hastings for information related to his current and recent activities sometime between June 3rd – 7th, 2013.
These allegations appear to be substantiated by the following e-mail sent by Michael Hastings to two or more of his known associates immediately before his death (note: E-mail headers have been removed):
Subject: FBI Investigation, re: NSA
Hey [Name redacted] — the Feds are interviewing my “close friends and associates.” Perhaps if the authorities arrive “BuzzFeed GQ,” er HQ, may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news gathering practices or related journalism issues.
Also: I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the rada (sic) for a bit.
All the best, and hope to see you all soon.
It is important to note that following the death of Mr. Hastings, Laura Eimiller, FBI spokesperson based in the Los Angeles field office, emphatically denied that Mr. Hastings was under investigation at the time of his death. It must be emphasized that this denial is in direct contradiction to Mr. Hastings’ e-mail.
In addition to the above, research and investigation into the anomalies of the vehicle crash, including but not limited to the debris field and location of the components of Mr. Hastings’ vehicle, the actions of his vehicle immediately preceding impact were reviewed. Based on this review and information obtained from sources within the area of the incident, it is possible that a previously unreferenced vehicle operated by an unknown individual might have played a contributing role in this incident. The general location of that vehicle was positioned well ahead of Mr. Hastings’ vehicle, and is believed to have been stopped near the intersection of Melrose. Investigation into this aspect of the incident is ongoing.
There has been much speculation about the cause of the vehicle fire itself, including its actual cause, its intensity, and burn patterns. While fires sometimes happen as a consequence of or secondary to collisions, analysis of both open source still photographs and video, along with a review of photos not publicly accessible are cause for concern regarding the exact cause of the fire. This matter, along with the post-autopsy disposition of Mr. Hastings’ body (cremation) will be addressed in a follow-up report.
There has also been much speculation related to the location of the vehicle’s engine and drive train following impact. This issue is presently undergoing further analysis based on related but unreleased documentation. Assessment of this aspect of the crash will be made public in a follow-up report.
The lack of skid marks from the vehicle’s tires leading to the area of impact was found to be of significance based on analysis of this scene. This will be also addressed in greater detail in the follow-up report as well.
Weeks after the fiery death of investigative journalist Michael Hastings, who was probing abuses by the CIA and NSA and had recently informed others that he was being investigated by federal authorities, suspicions about his mysterious car crash are still swirling around the Internet. While police officially ruled the death an “accident,” serious questions are still surfacing — even in the establishment media and among prominent officials. Based on e-mails Hastings sent out shortly before he died about working on a “big story” and needing to go “off the radar,” it has become clear that he was worried, too.
Hastings, who wrote for Rolling Stone, BuzzFeed, Gawker, and other publications, was probably best known for his award-winning 2010 article “The Runaway General.” The piece helped bring down U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Despite his establishment credentials and what analysts called his “Democrat-friendly” reporting, Hastings had become extremely alarmed about the “surveillance state” and other troubling developments in recent months. His last published story: “Why Democrats Love To Spy On Americans.”
When the Obama administration was exposed spying on journalists earlier this year, the investigative reporter blasted what he referred to as the president’s “war” on journalism. “The Obama administration has clearly declared war on the press. It has declared war on investigative journalists — our sources,” he said during a recent TV interview, blasting the administration’s lawless behavior, obsession with secrecy, and vicious persecution of whistleblowers. Beyond simple criticism, though, Hastings openly said it was time for journalists to fight back.
“I think the only recourse to this kind of behavior by the government is to say back to the government, ‘we declare war on you,’ and from this point forward, we should no longer — the media as a whole — cooperate in any manner with the government,” he continued. “We should withdraw all our cooperation and we should publish everything we know, because it’s a free press, it’s not a free-except-for-when-the-government-tells-me-to-do-it press, and we’ve been way too easygoing with these guys.”
Less than 24 hours before his death, Hastings made it crystal clear that he was concerned about his own well-being. In an e-mail sent to numerous contacts and his employer, for example, Hastings noted: “The Feds are interviewing my ‘close friends and associates.’” He also said that if authorities show up, it “may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.” The subject line read: “FBI investigation re: NSA.” Perhaps most alarming of all, the e-mail concluded with this: “Also: I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the rada[r] for a bit.”
While some friends and family members are reportedly too frightened to speak out, at least one recipient of the e-mail has gone public. Staff Sgt. Joseph Biggs, who became friends with Hastings while the journalist was embedded with his unit in Afghanistan in 2008, told KTLA that the “very panicked” message “alarmed me very much.” According to Biggs, “I just said it doesn’t seem like him. I don’t know, I just had this gut feeling and it just really bothered me.”
Biggs has spoken to Fox News and other major media outlets as well, saying Hastings was working on “the biggest story yet” about the CIA and that Hastings’ wife vowed to “take down whoever did this.” Apparently Hastings “drove like a grandma.” In an extended interview with radio host Alex Jones, Biggs also said he knew Hastings was receiving “death threats” from military brass. The retired staff sergeant added that he was extremely suspicious about his friend’s death and vowed to do everything in his power to find out what happened.
Heavy-hitters from the government sector have expressed concerns, too. Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke, for example, told The Huffington Post in late June that the deadly car crash was “consistent with a car cyber-attack.” Intelligence agencies for major powers — including the U.S. government — almost certainly know how to remotely seize control of a car, he added.
“What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it’s relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn’t want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn’t want the brakes on, to launch an air bag,” Clarke continued. “You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it’s not that hard…. 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.”
So far, the FBI has denied that it was investigating Hastings. However, on June 19, the day after the mysterious crash, WikiLeaks released what has been interpreted as a bomb-shell to some analysts monitoring the investigation. “Michael Hastings contacted WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson just a few hours before he died, saying that the FBI was investigating him,” the whistleblowing organization said through its official Twitter account, sparking worldwide press coverage. The allegation has not been independently confirmed.
According to the official investigation of the crash, Hastings ran a red light and was driving over 100 miles per hour in his brand-new Mercedes in the early morning when he suddenly crashed into a tree, causing his car to burst into a bizarre fiery inferno. The engine was found more than 150 feet from the wreck. Local news outlets in California, meanwhile, are reporting that the police report is still not publicly available and that officials have been ordered not to comment on the case. The crash itself has also been ringing alarm bells among experts and analysts.
On San Diego 6 News, national security reporter Kimberly Dvorak, for example, recently took to the air and talked about her conversations with sources surrounding the crash after spending a day in Los Angeles investigating. Noting that the police report was not available, she said law enforcement and fire department officials refused to comment, with some saying they had been instructed not to say anything. “That kind of stands out; we look at the NSA, the government says if you have nothing to hide, don’t worry,” she said.
Military officials, meanwhile, told Dvorak that the fire was “extremely hot” and “not something we normally see,” the reporter continued. The fact that the engine was between 150 and 250 feet behind the car was also strange, according to university physics professors she spoke with — it should have been in front, if anything. Another interesting fact highlighted in the report: There were no skid marks at the accident scene.
Mercedes, she added, insists that their cars do not blow up. In fact, the company has a reputation for building some of the safest cars in the world, but Mercedes has not yet been contacted by authorities, according to a statement. Citing a 2010 study from a California university, Dvorak also noted that it is possible to “hack into the car system and operate the accelerator, the brakes, windshield wipers, light, steering,” and more using a simple iPad.
Car experts have also expressed skepticism about the official narrative. “I’m here to state that I’ve seen dozens of cars hit walls and stuff at high speeds and the number of them that I have observed to eject their powertrains and immediately catch massive fire is, um, ah, zero,” noted Jack Baruth, editor of The Truth About Cars. “Modern cars are very good at not catching fire in accidents. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which is an evolutionary design from a company known for sweating the safety details over and above the Euro NCAP requirements, should be leading the pack in the not-catching-on-fire category.”
“Nor is the C-Class known for sudden veering out of control into trees and whatnot,” continued Baruth, who has a professional racing license as well. “Mr. Hastings’ aggressively Democrat-friendly storytelling has the Internet already considering the idea that his death was engineered somehow. I can’t say it’s totally unlikely. As noted above, the reported (and videotaped) behavior of the C250 was not in line with what we’d expect.”
It would not be the first time that a prominent journalist taking on the establishment has died under suspicious circumstances. Conservative-leaning alternative-media giant Andrew Breitbart, for example, promised to reveal information that would destroy the Obama machine. Shortly before the highly anticipated release, the 43-year-old died of “heart failure.” Two months later, the county coroner who conducted Breitbart’s autopsy was poisoned. Before that, investigative journalist Gary Webb, who exposed CIA cocaine trafficking, supposedly “committed suicide” with two bullets to the head after publicly expressing his concerns that he would be killed. The list could go on.
Of course, it is now common knowledge that the administration believes it can extra-judicially murder anyone — including Americans — whom Obama claims is a threat to the “Homeland.” No charges or trial are required, and indeed, the president has already openly murdered Americans like Anwar al Awlaki and his young son without even charging them with a crime — let alone securing a conviction by a jury in a court of law. Whether Hastings was murdered remains uncertain, but there is little doubt that the circumstances of his death were extremely suspicious.
Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, politics, and more. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shashank Tripathi on the left of picture
NEWSER) – A Twitter user who spread false information as superstorm Sandy battered New York City has been unmasked by Buzzfeed as the campaign manager for Christopher Wright, the Republican House candidate from New York’s 12th congressional district. Among the rumors started by hedge fund manager Shashank Tripathi, using the name “ComfortablySmug,” were that all power in Manhattan was being shut down and that the New York Stock Exchange had flooded.
Tripathi’s rumors spread widely and were reported by several media outlets, forcing utility and transportation officials dealing with the crisis to take time out to deny them. Tripathi, who hung up on journalists requesting comment, has now tweeted a “sincere, humble and unconditional apology” for his “irresponsible and inaccurate” tweets and has resigned from the Wright campaign.