Was Michael Hastings Murdered?

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Back in 2010, while reading an article called "The Runaway General" about General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of ISAF , “International Security and Assistance Force”, which is all U.S. and other troops in Afghanistan, my jaw dropped so hard, it almost dislocated. I could scarcely believe what I was reading. A four-star Army general and the highest-ranking members of his staff were hanging out with a reporter from Rolling Stone? They might as well have invited someone from RT and Xinhua, too. WTFFFFFFFF? I knew that some helmeted, beret’d, and uniformed heads were going to roll; sure enough, within several days of the article being published, General (or to use the proper abbreviation for a four-star U.S. Army general, “GEN”) McChrystal was recalled and his resignation was readily accepted by a very pissed-off Obama.

 

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/the-runaway-general-the-profile-that-brought-down-mcchrystal-192609/

 

(Note: The article’s title has been augmented; Rolling Stone is obviously very proud of this accomplishment)

 

The article was both hilarious and horrifying, but mostly hilarious. While it is common for soldiers of all ranks to criticize or at least make fun of politicians, it is actually a crime for commissioned officers to tell certain politicians what they really think of them, as set forth in Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (“UCMJ”), “Contempt Toward Officials”:

 

“Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

 

The potential consequences of de-camouflaged and combative candor are “Dismissal, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 1 year.” They clearly mean business.

 

Personally, I didn’t feel that GEN McChrystal and his gang said or did anything particularly scandalous. The bantering was pretty standard for military dudes everywhere on Planet Earth, and the words and sentiments they expressed were (and are) shared by many, many other service members besides them. It could have been much worse. For example, back in 1993, USAF Major General Harold Campbell was cashiered for calling President Clinton a "gay-loving," "pot-smoking," "draft-dodging" and "womanizing" Commander-in-Chief who was unfit for the job. His comments were well-received by his audience (except for the one who squealed on him), and reflected almost the entire U.S. military’s attitude toward Bubba Clinton, which bordered on open revolt.

 

Naturally, the politicians can and will fire back with their own brand of scorn and contempt. President Abraham Lincoln, frustrated with Union General George McClellan’s lack of progress, described him as behaving like “a duck that got hit on the head”. JFK, feeling badly-served by the brass, referred to them once as “the sons of bitches with all the fruit salad”, describing the colored ribbons on their chests. However, the most famous (or infamous) example of a commander in an active war zone being relieved and forced into retirement for disparaging remarks and/or conduct toward politicians was President Harry Truman’s firing of General (actually, General of the Army, a five-star rank) Douglas MacArthur over his behavior during the Korean War. Truman made his reasons crystal-clear, as only Give ‘Em Hell Harry could:

 

“I fired him because he wouldn't respect the authority of the President ... I didn't fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.”

 

Sugar-coating as usual there, Harry…tell us what you REALLY think.

 

After reading the article a few times, something dawned on me; Mr. Hastings had made some powerful and very, very scary enemies. People in general, and military people in particular, usually aren’t too keen about being betrayed. Someone once described journalism as an act of seduction and betrayal, and Mike betrayed them with gusto, although to his credit, he made clear to the General and his subordinates his intentions that he was going to write about anything and everything they said and did, outside of things clearly sensitive (Geraldo Rivera leaps to mind) and/or “off the record”, but according to Hastings, that happened only twice, and he honored both of them. Although I liked both the story and his style, I instinctively felt that Mike Hastings was going to suffer some form of consequences.

 

When I read about Hasting’s death in 2013, my initial reaction was the same as when I heard about Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin’s death in 2006. Whenever you mess with dangerous creatures that have a very rich record of lethality, don’t be surprised if you get stabbed through your heart. Hasting’s demise was much more spectacular. The Mercedes he was driving was at maximum speed when it hit a tree in LA and exploded with such ferocity that Hasting’s body was burned beyond recognition. My first impression was that somehow the car was hacked and Michael Hastings, the intrepid young reporter who was very talented at his work, was professionally smoked by some of the special operators who worshipped GEN Stanley McChrystal as a modern-day and real-life version of Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now. Modern technology makes such assassinations possible. It’s also possible that Mike had a moment of madness; a self-described “war junkie”, maybe living too close to the edge finally took its toll. Whatever the case may be, I was saddened by his death, as I liked his reporting very much. The death of Michael Hastings was a big loss for the world, in my humble opinion.

Comments

The Burghal Hidage Added Oct 12, 2018 - 11:47am
Good stuff Michael. I knew the general ( not GEN ) story, but you have provided some additional details I had not been aware of.
 
For all of his brilliance old Doug always was a major prima donna.  There were good cases to be made on either side of their dispute, and as you point out, the disagreements between civilian authority and military leadership are eternal. He kinda put Harry in a box, which was a big mistake. Truman was one of only a handful of twentieth century presidents who truly possessed the right temperament for the job, a sensible man who was congenial, not an egomaniac, could get along with nearly everyone. But Harry did not suffer fools gladly and did not mince words when the occasion called for it. I acknowledge too that he was a politician, which is not a positive for anyone in my book, but giving the devil his due Truman was very adept. He had good judgement. 
 
As to a hit....? No one can say for certain, right? To my thinking, when you can't tell for certain what happened? That is the signature of a successful hit. I think your opinion is justified :)
FacePalm Added Oct 12, 2018 - 12:00pm
Michael B-
VERY well-written article; had lots of factual info, a bit of great humor(loved the Truman ref), lots of empathy for many people, and a dive into pathos.
 
He was an outspoken critic of the D'OhBama admin's "war on transparency" (and journalists), and allegedly was working on a story about the See Eye Ay, perhaps targeting Brennan himself.
 
This Paul Joseph Watson article may shed some light, but everything i've been able to find so far consists mainly of speculation, absent any conclusive proof - nevertheless, i find the fact that his body was "burned beyond recognition" to be extremely suspicious.  Perhaps his murder will be solved contemporaneously with that of Marc Rich.
Eric Reports Added Oct 12, 2018 - 12:28pm
On YouTube, watch the video, how many explosions from the car.  Police said car slammed into tree, yet tree was not damaged.
John Minehan Added Oct 12, 2018 - 5:37pm
Great article. 
 
I always thought it was probably tough for the people around a Combatant Commander to keep perspective.  Might be even tougher for folks who came up in SOCOM.  
Logical Man Added Oct 12, 2018 - 6:26pm
If you doubt that politicians will kill even their own citizens for their own convenience and benefit, here's a good example: Sept 12, 2001 when the EPA said the air was safe, knowing full well how much asbestos was floating around just waiting to be breathed in and what the likely long-term effects would be. This decision will kill, slowly and painfully, about 10 times as many as the attacks of the previous day, if not more. To add insult, GWB actually suggested everyone go shopping!
 
Here's an interesting link.....
arkancide
 
 
wsucram15 Added Oct 13, 2018 - 3:05am
This was a good article MichaelB...from every angle. It really is, the author you speak of was very good and the story was something of a sensation at the time.  But you are right, you cant screw with the MIC, especially in print.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Oct 13, 2018 - 3:17am
This was a good article MichaelB.
 
Holy shit!! 
Flying Junior Added Oct 13, 2018 - 3:29am
Michael,
 
You are the WB war correspondent!
 
Shucks.  I didn't even know that Hastings had died.  The last time that I thought about any of this, I invited my schooldays chum over to get a huge laugh watching Brad Pitt portray General McChrystal on the NetFlix piece.  It wasn't really a hit piece so much as a humor piece.
 
Thanks bro!
 
I mean, fuck, I'm sorry as hell the guy died.  It made me think of James Dean.
Michael B. Added Oct 13, 2018 - 7:33am
@ TBH - Thanks, I always appreciate a compliment from a dude of your caliber. I've always admired both Dugout Doug and Give 'Em Hell Harry.
 
"He kinda put Harry in a box, which was a big mistake."
 
Yeah, Big Mac fucked with the wrong one, didn't he? I need to read up more on both of them. William Manchester's biography of MacArthur was aptly-named American Caesar, which he pretty much was. Truman was definitely a no-nonsense character, and was essentially the polar opposite of Dick Cheney as far as Vice Presidents go. I think he's one of the more under-rated Presidents. When I was a kid, I knew several WW2 and Korean War vets who were under his command, and they never forgave Truman for giving Doug a Kiwi injection, which is Army slang for a boot going up one's ass.
Michael B. Added Oct 13, 2018 - 7:40am
@ Facepalm - WOW! Thanks, and thanks for the thorough assessment of my post! I checked your link out and momentarily blanched when I saw it was on Infowars, but it dovetailed fairly neatly into my own suspicions, and I'm usually about as interested in conspiracy theories as I am in watching homosexual soap operas, lol.
Michael B. Added Oct 13, 2018 - 8:01am
@ Eric R. - Yes, those explosions look pretty bad, but as I don't have any experience with analyzing car crashes, I can't form much of an opinion, except to say that the extremely high speed of the car would explain most of the destruction that followed, as opposed to a bomb; personally, I don't think that the people who smoked him would be so crude as to use a bomb.
Michael B. Added Oct 13, 2018 - 8:04am
@ John M. - Yes, I thought so too. Hastings was a master of his craft.
Michael B. Added Oct 13, 2018 - 8:05am
@ Logical Man - Arkancide is pretty ancient at this point, lol.
Michael B. Added Oct 13, 2018 - 8:09am
@ Jeanne - Thanks Jeanne! Actually, I prefer to write about stuff like this, but hit posts and other things that piss people off and/or challenge their comfort levels are still way too much FUN, lol. Yes, the MIC knows how to deal with all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Michael B. Added Oct 13, 2018 - 8:10am
@ Captain Gilbert - "Holy shit!!"
 
As per usual, you're harsh, yet probably still understating it, lol.
Michael B. Added Oct 13, 2018 - 8:11am
@ FJ - I'll have to watch that, lol.
Logical Man Added Oct 13, 2018 - 9:15am
Ancient, not necessarily, but even then, relevant. Shows how the buggers operate. Think about Seth Rich, who looked to be endangering one of the main Arkansas players
Michael B. Added Oct 13, 2018 - 9:20am
Some lines from The Godfather:
 
Michael: My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator.
 
Kay Adams: Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don't have men killed.
 
Michael: Oh. Who's being naive, Kay?
FacePalm Added Oct 13, 2018 - 1:24pm
MichaelB-
I checked your link out and momentarily blanched when I saw it was on Infowars...
 
Glad you gave Watson a chance; he's a brilliant weblogger, and writes well, himself - though perhaps not up to your caliber(no pun intended).
 
AJ himself is a PITA, but his guests - when he lets them speak - are often spot-on, and he has often given out info that MSM doesn't get around to for YEARS, if at all; as i'm sure you're aware, quite a bit of the Democratic Horns of the Beast dasn't say a word in opposition OR even MENTION certain things which could undermine/expose their treachery.  IMO, what they do NOT cover or mention is often far more important than what they DO.
 
AJ, FMO, is pretty damn fearless, even if at least slightly insane...but he loves America and the Truth, so i cut him some slack.  Not much, mind.
Mircea Negres Added Oct 13, 2018 - 5:37pm
Nice one, Michael! Three thumbs up and a bunch of appendages besides! I actually read the notorious Rolling Stone article and while it showed enough of a shade of civilian-military disconnect, the picture I got of former general McChrystal was pretty much on par with generals I've actually met- not very favorable, funny at times and "can I shoot this guy already?" mixed good and solid with "what the fuck is this retreaded retard doing in this post? After all, who the fuck has trusted OPSEC and (besides the all-important [to a general's vanity and further stars] PERSONALCAREERSEC to a journalist since Watergate?"
 
That the reporter died, I didn't know. As for whether it was a hit or not, I know even less- though yeah, if you swim with sharks, better not fuck with them or your sorry ass will get bitten at some point, in some way... What I do know though, is that yours was a kick-ass piece! Oh, by the way, McArthur deserved to be fired- for Task Force Smith, if one never minds outright blindly missing the glaring and yelling signs of a bit of a "challenge" in the Korean Peninsula or the more petty "what the C-in-C thought of the 5-star panjandrum's corn cob pipe-smoking and dangerously imperious pontificatin' ways... 
Flying Junior Added Oct 13, 2018 - 5:38pm
There is another parallel between Stanley McChrystal and MacArthur.  General McChrystal had an affection for the Vietnamese people.  He wanted to stay in Viet Nam after we won the war and help to modernize and rebuild Viet Nam the way that MacArthur had helped the devastated post-war Japan.  MacArthur oversaw the post-war reconstruction in Japan for five years until 1950.  He was also beloved by the people of the Philippines and still is revered today.
 
McChrystal never got his chance to become that beneficent hero.
Michael B. Added Oct 14, 2018 - 1:07am
Mircea, my man! Once again, I have to say that I'm glad to see you back! Yes, Task Force Smith wasn't one of our more shining military moments. I've always found it interesting that Big Mac was the mack-daddy behind two of the most humiliating defeats in U.S. military history; the Philippines in 1942 and Korea in 1951, but to be fair, in both cases, he was working with what he had. Mac managed to upset the Japanese timetable so much that the original Japanese commander, General Homma, was relieved for being "too soft", and replaced by the Tiger of Malaya, General Yamashita. Mac saw to it that both of them were hanged, but to me, that was "victor's justice". In Korea, he was also caught pretty flat-footed, as the WW2 U.S. military demobilized practically overnight, and resources were scarce. All in all, Big Mac will always have my admiration; the fact that he never went into politics only confirms that, lol.
Michael B. Added Oct 14, 2018 - 1:08am
@ FJ - I have absolutely no idea of what you're referring to. Please 'splain Lucy, lol.
Flying Junior Added Oct 14, 2018 - 1:23am
OMFG  Senior moment alert.  I typed this comment in the daytime sober as a judge.
 
I meant Afghanistan!  I think it might be somewhat fictionalized.  But in the movie, Brad Pitt's Stanley McChrystal fights for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan in the hopes of a decisive victory.  He was named the top commander in Afghanistan in 2009.  It did not take him long to lose faith in any support from the president or the Pentagon.
 
He wanted to be the commander in an occupied Afghanistan and help to bring about the westernization and modernization of Afghanistan.  He would have only been twenty years old when Gerald Ford took office in 1974.  lol is right.
 
It's really fucking funny.  I was doing McChrystal's voice and my buddy was riffing on my impersonation.  The guy was tough as nails and he genuinely felt sorry for weaker men.  He jogged eight miles every morning.  He hated to put on his general's uniform and appear at diplomatic functions in France.  As they say.  He was one helluva man!
Michael B. Added Oct 14, 2018 - 1:37am
@ FJ - "OMFG  Senior moment alert.  I typed this comment in the daytime sober as a judge."
 
Forgiven and forgotten FJ! I'm pushing 50 myself, so I'm well-disposed toward cutting my fellow aging humans some slack, lol.
 
I'll have to see that movie. I've never been a Brad Pitt fan, mostly because he reminds me of my older and deceased brother.
Autumn Cote Added Oct 14, 2018 - 3:43am
Your most recent article was released 6 hours too soon.  Kindly take it down and release sometime after 9am.  As always, many thanks for your participation with Writer Beat.
Michael B. Added Oct 14, 2018 - 4:28am
@ AC - Good morning to you too, sugar! Uh-oh, I'm in trouble, as per usual! I'm usually cognizant of the rules, but I put that one out with the assumption that nobody gives a shit, lol.
Ward Tipton Added Oct 14, 2018 - 9:04am
How many bankers who live in beautiful high rise apartments and condos have made their way to the wrong side of town to high rises with no CCTV and "jumped" to their death? 
 
Heart attack guns were revealed to the public in the seventies. 
 
There have always been teams ready to ensure an accident was always waiting to happen when it was necessary or just beneficial. 
 
Was this one of them? Very likely, but who will ever know. Better yet, be glad you do not know ... lest an accident befall you as well. 
Cullen Kehoe Added Oct 14, 2018 - 7:47pm
Wikipedia makes a good case that no foul play was involved in Hastings' death. Although interesting post. 
Ward Tipton Added Oct 16, 2018 - 8:28am
Back when I was working for Internet Marketers, I had some very ... interesting ... pages up on Wikipedia. I would not trust it as a viable resource in and of itself. That being said, it would be nice to believe that government never did any such things and all of this was merely crazy, conspiratorial conjecture but ...