The New York Daily News says that the Web has gone wild with conspiracy theories after the death of reporter Michael Hastings. Wikileaks offered some heavy breathing. None of the theories are more than conjecture, note Salon and New York magazine.
But reasonable questions deserve timely answers.
The most intriguing revelation, from his editor (and confirmed by Wikileaks), was that Hastings believed he was under federal investigation. The FBI responded in a statement: “At no time was journalist Michael Hastings ever under investigation by the FBI.”
That parseable formulation leaves open the question of whether Hastings was under
investigation by another federal law enforcement agency, perhaps supported by the FBI.
I asked the National Security Agency for comment. Spokesperson Vanee Vines responded quickly and to the point:
“The National Security Agency is not a law enforcement agency. NSA is focused on foreign signals intelligence and information assurance. You may want to contact the FBI, which recently issued a statement about that issue.”
Of course, even if Hasting had been under some kind of federal investigation at the time of his death, that fact would not imply foul play.
His recent mental state was of concern to friends who described him as “a nervous wreck.” A witness to the crash described a high-speed, one-car accident. Toxicologists will need weeks to determine if drugs or alcohol were a factor.
To be sure, Hastings had enemies. He scorched the Department of Justice for wiretapping AP’s national security reporters. His last Buzzfeed piece was tough on Democrats who defend the secrecy system. But having enemies alone does not make for a suspicious death.
Needless to say, the best antidote to conspiracy theorizing is transparency.
Hastings on the DOJ investigation of AP: