Was Michael Hasting’s Death an Accident or was he Murdered?

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Didn’t have to know you to know the truth of what happened, my colleague…

Today was announced that Ex-CIA head Petraeus pleaded guilty to giving classified material to lover. This is nothing new that we need to know. We knew about it through Michael Hastings investigative journalism.

Michael Hastings Tears Petraeus to Shreds on CNN

What we need to know is who killed Michael Hastings, and why President Obama didn’t demand a full investigation of the young journalist’s death. Michael Hastings died in a single-vehicle car crash on June 18, 2013. Due to Hastings ongoing investigations of CIA chief John Brennan and previous critical investigations of other well known figures, there was speculation of foul play. 

Michael’s wife, Elise Jordan, also a journalist, played a role in clearing up speculations about her husband’s death as being nothing more than a “tragic accident”

Michael Hastings (January 28, 1980 – June 18, 2013) was an American journalist, author, contributing editor to Rolling Stone and reporter for BuzzFeed. He was raised in New York, Canada, and Vermont, and attended New York University. Hastings rose to prominence with his coverage of the Iraq War for Newsweek in the 2000s. After his fiancee Andrea Parhamovich was killed when her car was ambushed in Iraq, Hastings wrote his first book, I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story (2008), a memoir about his relationship with Parhamovich and the violent insurgency that took her life.

He received the George Polk Award for “The Runaway General” (2010), a Rolling Stone profile of General Stanley McChrystal, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in the Afghanistan war. The article documented the widespread contempt for civilian government officials by the general and his staff and ultimately resulted in McChrystal’s resignation. Hastings followed up with The Operators (2012), a detailed book account of his month-long stay with McChrystal in Europe and Afghanistan.

Michael became a vocal critic of the surveillance state during the investigation of reporters by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2013, referring to the restrictions on the freedom of the press by the Obama administration as a “war” on journalism. His last story, “Why Democrats Love to Spy On Americans”, was published by BuzzFeed on June 7. Hastings died in a fiery high-speed automobile crash on June 18, 2013, in Los Angeles, California. Blue Rider Press posthumously published his only novel, The Last Magazine (2014), a year after his death.

In February 2012, Hastings reported that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had been keeping tabs on the Occupy Wall Street movement. An October 2011 DHS report named “SPECIAL COVERAGE: Occupy Wall Street” noted that “mass gatherings associated with public protest movements can have disruptive effects on transportation, commercial, and government services, especially when staged in major metropolitan areas”.

Bowe Bergdahl: America’s Last Prisoner of War

In June 2012, Hastings wrote an article about the struggles of Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban when he walked off his Army base in Afghanistan in 2009 after being disillusioned with the war. In an interview with MSNBC anchor Alex Wagner, Hastings discussed his article and said, “There are elements within the Pentagon who don’t want to make the trade for Bowe Bergdahl”. A White House official subsequently responded to these allegations by informing Hastings that “details of Sergeant Bergdahl’s capture are irrelevant”. Bowe Berghdal was traded for five Taliban prisoners in June, 2014.

President Obama’s foreign policy

In May 2013, Hastings denounced President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, and accused MSNBC contributor Perry Bacon, Jr., of being a “stenographer” for the White House.

Soon after his death, some press reports described the crash as suspicious. Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard A. Clarke said that what is known about the crash is “consistent with a car cyber attack“. He was quoted as saying “There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers—including the United States—know how to remotely seize control of a car. So if there were a cyber attack on [Hastings’] car—and I’m not saying there was, I think whoever did it would probably get away with it.”  Earlier the previous day, Hastings indicated that he believed he was being investigated by the FBI. In an email to colleagues, which was copied to and released by Hastings’ friend, Army Staff Sergeant Joe Biggs, Hastings said that he was “onto a big story”, that he needed to “go off the radar”, and that the FBI might interview them. WikiLeaks announced that Hastings had also contacted Jennifer Robinson, one of its lawyers, a few hours prior to the crash, and the LA Weekly reported that he was preparing new reports on the CIA at the time of his demise. His widow Elise Jordan said his final story was a profile of CIA Director John O. Brennan. The FBI released a statement denying that Hastings was being investigated.

The FBI file on Michael Hastings and its attachments (totaling 21 pages) were released to the public on September 24, 2013, after investigative journalist Jason Leopold and MIT doctoral candidate Ryan Shapiro filed a joint suit in July 2013 against the FBI for ignoring their FOIA requests for the file. The FBI failed to respond to the requests within the allotted 20-day period. On August 15, Leopold released a statement that read, “The Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicated that the FBI has likely located responsive records pertaining to investigative journalist Michael Hastings”. Al Jazeera, along with Shapiro, released results from a FOIA request showing that the FBI’s Washington field office had opened a file on Hastings in June 2012 to store “unclassified media articles” and “memorialize controversial reporting by Rolling Stone magazine on June 7, 2012″. The attorney who filed the FOIA lawsuit, Jeff Light, suggested that it was uncommon for the FBI to open such files on reporters.

From The New York Magazine:

At the end of his life, Michael Hastings, like many of the progressive journalists he counted among his friends, felt besieged by an overreaching government. Hastings was living in Los Angeles, and at a Beverly Hills theater in April, he took part in a panel discussion about the documentary War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State.

Interviewed in May on The Young Turks, a talk show on Current TV, Hastings railed against the Obama administration, which “has clearly declared war on the press”; the only recourse, he said, was for the press to respond: “We declare war on you.” On May 31, he dashed off an urgent tweet: “first they came for manning. Then Assange. Then fox. Then the ap.drake and the other whistle-blowers. Any nyt reporters too.” He attended screenings of his friend Jeremy Scahill’s film Dirty Wars, which seeks to expose “the hidden truth behind America’s expanding covert wars,” and when leaks about the NSA began appearing in The Guardian, and Edward Snowden was charged with espionage, Hastings was deeply troubled by the revelations and the Justice Department’s response. On June 7, his last post for BuzzFeed, where he was a staff writer, focused on “Why Democrats Love to Spy on Americans,” and at the time of his death, Hastings was working on a profile of CIA director John Brennan for Rolling Stone.

It was for Rolling Stone, where Hastings had a contract, that he’d written “The Runaway General,” the 2010 article that resulted in the cashiering of General Stanley McChrystal, America’s commander in Afghanistan, and made his name as a journalist. Mark Leibovich, in this summer’s inside-the-­Beltway big read, This Town, describes Hastings’s McChrystal piece as “the most consequential” journalism of 2010 and possibly Obama’s entire first term. But despite going after big game, Hastings tended to be nonchalant about possible repercussions. “Whenever I’d been reporting around groups of dudes whose job it was to kill people,” he said once, “one of them would usually mention that they were going to kill me.

By the middle of June, though, Hastings, then 33, had become openly afraid. Helicopters are a common sight in the Hollywood Hills, but he had told Jordanna Thigpen, a neighbor he’d become close to, that there were more of them in the sky than usual, and he was certain they were tracking him. On Saturday the 15th, he called Matt Farwell, his writing partner, and said Farwell might be interviewed by the FBI. Farwell was unsettled. “He was being really cagey over the phone, which was odd, very odd,” Farwell says. On the 17th, Hastings e-mailed colleagues at BuzzFeed to warn them that “the Feds are interviewing my ‘close friends and associates’ ”; he was “onto a big story” and needed to go “off the rada[r] for a bit … hope to see you all soon.”

“He was deeply agitated,” says The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur. Since Hastings didn’t want to say anything more over e-mail or the phone, Farwell, who lived in Virginia, set up a lunch for him the following Thursday with a trusted friend of Farwell’s, also in L.A., so that she could pass along whatever Hastings had to tell him on her forthcoming trip East.

The lunch never happened. At 4:20 a.m. on Tuesday, June 18, Hastings’s silver Mercedes C250 coupe, speeding south on Highland Avenue, crossed Melrose, jumped the median, hit a palm tree, and exploded. The charred body of the driver was identified by the Los Angeles coroner as John Doe 117 until fingerprints confirmed that the deceased was Michael Hastings.

Sergeant Joe Biggs, who met Hastings in 2008, when the reporter, on assignment for GQ, was embedded with his unit in Afghanistan, hadn’t spoken to his friend in three months, but Hastings had BCC’d him on the June 17 e-mail to BuzzFeed colleagues. “I tried calling him when I got that e-mail,” Biggs says, “ ’cause I felt so fucking scared, because it didn’t seem like him.” Biggs e-mailed BuzzFeed, too. “They weren’t helpful at all. I kept e-mailing back, ‘What should we do? I’m not a journalist. I don’t know how to go about this stuff.’ They never responded to me.” Biggs tried contacting other media to let them know about the ominous e-mail; the only person who got back to him was a local L.A. reporter. “If that thing didn’t get released,” Biggs told me when I first called him, two weeks after Hastings’s death, “people would keep thinking it was an accident.”

Hastings lived as he died. On the small side, with blue eyes and scruffy good looks that suggested Jude Law’s little brother, he did everything fast: chain-smoking Parliament Lights, calling and e-mailing people late at night, speaking in a jittery torrent, churning out copy. (The first, long draft of his McChrystal article was a 48-hour production.) “The dude was exhausting,” Farwell says. “He just kind of vibrated energy. He had a deep well of moral outrage and sadness that I think goes back to a lot of the hypocrisy he saw and felt.”

WikiLeaks poured on accelerant, tweeting on June 19 that “Michael Hastings death has a very serious nonpublic complication. We will have more details later.” It would turn out that Hastings had sent one of his I’m-being-investigated e-mails to WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson. An unusual public disclaimer by the FBI, stating that Hastings wasn’t under investigation by the Bureau, became fuel for further conspiracy mongering. And Richard Clarke, the former counter­terrorism czar, told the Huffington Post that “my rule has always been you don’t knock down a conspiracy theory until you can prove it . And in the case of Michael Hastings, what evidence is available publicly is consistent with a car cyber attack.” Inside Edition asked: “Was it an accident or was it murder?

Sources: Wikileaks, The New Yorker

“Getting Away with Murder”: Immunity of the US Intelligence from Criminal Prosecution

 

 

ciaWith the upcoming first anniversary of investigative journalist’s Michael Hastings untimely death last June 18th, so much circumstantial evidence surrounding his so called fatal accident points more to yet another inside government job that has become notorious for murdering those who speak the shameful truth about the US government. More than any other government entity especially since 9/11, US intelligence services have enjoyed carte blanche immunity from any actual oversight (by Congress, the president, and least of all the American people) and continue to lie and get away with murder both here in the US as well as all around the world because that is how they make their living.

The very day 33-year old Michael Hastings died last year, he was busily contacting friends and associates including WikiLeaks to report that he was under an FBI investigation. He feared that his car had been tampered with, and even went so far as to ask a neighbor friend if he could borrow her car just hours before his death. Hastings also announced that he was about to release a major bombshell of a news story involving covert operations deployed by US intelligence agencies, specifically targeting current CIA Director John Brennan. The UK’s Daily Mirror published an August 15, 2013 article stating the CIA contractor Stratfor’s president claimed that Brennan was on a witch hunt” for investigative journalists, which of course is consistent with the Obama administration.

Though the FBI has consistently lied in denying it was investigating Michael Hastings, in fact it had been tracking and bugging him and his every whereabouts for well over a year prior to his death. In June 2012 Hastings’ Rolling Stone article portraying former Prisoner of War (POW) Bowe Bergdahl and his family depicted a disillusioned soldier who was guilty and sick of fighting another immoral American war he wanted no part of. So he simply walked away from his unit in Afghanistan the end of June 2009 and within 24 hours was captured by the Taliban enemy. To write the article, Hastings went both to Idaho to talk to Bowe’s parents as well as to the Afghan battlefront. Despite a gag order that military command had placed on soldiers not to speak at all about the Bergdahl case, several peers in his unit did candidly talk to the reporter.

The Bergdahl affair shares some similarity with the Pat Tillman case. The patriot left a successful NFL career to voluntarily fight in Afghanistan, then once there suffered misgivings about the war and was becoming more vocal about his anti-war views. Afraid that Bush and Cheney’s poster boy for their imperialistic war might go public, speculation abounds that Pat’s death from friendly fire was actually murder to silence him for turning against the war. To make this tragedy worse, the US government proceeded to cover up and conceal the actual cause of Tillman’s death from both his family and the American public.

Several years later when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were even more unpopular and clearly both losing causes, in its effort to avoid more bad publicity, the Obama administration did its best to once again squelch the truth behind the Bergdahl story. Prior to Hasting’s POW article, the reporter had been responsible for writing two Rolling Stone stories that resulted in the abrupt scandalous ending of one Afghanistan commander’s career in General Stanley McChrystal, and then a year later an unflattering reality check for the failed surge of the next Afghan War commander in General Petraeus, soon to be rushing off leaving his military career, war mission and losing warfront behind to become CIA Director.

As Michael Hastings was forging a very successful career in journalism, clearly he had become a painful thorn in the side of some very powerful men whose careers were damaged by the truth he revealed. On multiple occasions when Hastings interviewed military officers attached to the generals he was featuring in his articles, he heard the same comment more than once that he would be killed if they did not approve of what he wrote about them. By the time he was writing about a POW who in good conscience was ashamed to be an American refusing to participate in another immoral imperialistic war, the powerful US intelligence agencies had had enough. Already perceiving Hastings as a serious threat worthy of keeping tabs on, they launched an ongoing investigation. Then by the time the courageous young writer set his sights on investigating the very same agencies already investigating him as his next target to expose the unfavorable truth on, the US intelligence agencies most likely made the decision to silence him.

Then came the remote controlled hack job that most likely took control of Michael’s car once he was behind the wheel, speeding up and exploding into a fireball just before crashing into a tree burning his body beyond recognition with the ejected engine landing more than 30 yards from the wreckage. The message was clear. Tell the truth about the dirty lowdown US government, and you die.

Just weeks before Hastings’ demise a year ago, Obama had declared war on any journalists who dared to reveal the truth about the government’s criminal and unethical activity. AP reporters computers and phone records were confiscated and a number of journalists were under extensive covert surveillance. More journalists and whistleblowers under Obama’s reign of terror have been indicted under the Espionage Act for both refusing to disclose sources as well as exposing any governmental wrongdoing than any other prior administration in US history. Private Bradley/ Chelsea Manning saw US war atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq and for releasing evidence to WikiLeaks, the Nobel Prize nominee is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence. Just over a year ago former NSA analyst and apparent spy Edward Snowden revealed the unconstitutional practices of the National Security Agency (NSA) invasively conducting pervasive surveillance and collection of private data on all Americans as well as many other nations and their leaders. While living in Russia with temporary asylum, the US government is determined to return Snowden to America to also try him on espionage charges and put him away for life after he lets the world know about the government’s unlawful surveillance.

During the present regime, more filed Freedom of Information Act requests have been denied than under any other presidency. After getting elected on the promise of open transparency and honesty, Obama has been the least transparent, most secretive and most dishonest president in US history, making it unsafe for both whistleblowers and reporters to do the right thing in telling the truth. Many who would come forth and speak with reporters simply don’t for fear of Obama’s recrimination and punishment that may include murder and lifetime imprisonment.

The FBI, CIA, National Security Council and NSA among a half dozen other federal agencies that work undercover cloaked in absolute secrecy is the world in which they live and operate. But when it comes to murdering innocent Americans whose only crime is possessing the courage and conviction of telling the truth, these rogue intelligence agencies have grossly overstepped their legal and ethical authority and boundaries by criminal leaps and bounds. Yet they continue getting away with murder.

The CIA has regularly engaged in killing and deposing democratically elected leaders from sovereign nations around the world, committed state sponsored terrorism on every continent, triggered wars killing millions of innocent people, executed false flag events resulting in mass murder (nearly 3000 of its own people on 9/11 alone), and have regularly gotten away with assassinating US Presidents (Kennedy), journalists (Hastings and former San Jose Mercury reporter Gary Webb) and government whistleblowers whenever threatened with public exposure. Running amok for nearly seven decades now, these hired gov assassins need to be exposed, finally reigned in and ultimately held accountable for the grave harm they have perpetrated on so many individuals both here in America and around the globe.

Evidence exists implicating the CIA and internal governmental agency guilt for the JFK, RFK and Martin Luther King assassinations. Prior to their murders both Kennedy’s were in the process of reeling in the wayward power of the CIA. A jury in Miami in February 1985 ruled that John Kennedy’s murder involved the CIA. A December 1999 Memphis jury found intelligence agencies within the US government responsible for MLK’s murder. America’s greatest leaders of our times have all been killed by an out of control intelligence community bent on having its way exercising at will the means to murder and get away with it, regardless of the influence and power of its high profile victims.

Moreover, we now have a US president who was literally born into the CIA. His mother worked for the CIA in Hawaii, Indonesia and India. She also married a man from Africa sent to study at the University of Hawaii by the CIA, and later married another man in Indonesia who also worked with the CIA. The president’s maternal grandparents saddled with mostly raising Barrack Hussein Obama in Hawaii also both were closely aligned with the CIA. His grandmother was employed for decades in a bank that money laundered for the CIA and his grandfather was not just a furniture factory owner but had close CIA ties himself. So we now have a “Manchurian Candidate” president who long ago was groomed to become the most powerful man in the so called “free” world. If anything, Obama’s shady roots reveal the story of how the rogue CIA answers more to the global oligarchs than the US president, who is but an oligarch created puppet himself, the front man in black face who preyed on America’s hopes and then turned around and showed his true colors by betraying the people and their Constitution that he swore an oath to protect.

The CIA used to be prior US presidents’ personal secret army at the cutting edge of their foreign policy. But in recent decades the CIA has become an autonomous force unto itself unleashed on the world without central control or oversight from either the president or Congress. It was recently discovered that for decades the CIA has been lying to the Congressional Intelligence Committee about its torture policy illegally carried out in illegal secret detainment centers located throughout Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. Long before death squads in the Middle East, Central Asia and now Africa, the CIA and Special Operations were training, financing and arming Latin American death squad commandos Reagan affectionately called his “freedom fighters” that massacred thousands of its own citizens in Central America in the 1980’s. Those same American military and State Department perpetrators have been redeployed years later in places like Iraq and Syria. Their brutal policies only continue.

Speaking of brutal policies, in the face of increasing flack for his terrorist drone operations, in his insipid, self-aggrandizing foreign policy speech at West Point last month, Obama promised to transfer US drone deployment out of the hands of the CIA to military control. That feeble gesture is but token lip service to mounting criticism directed at his personal favorite warfare that he himself relishes pulling the cherry picked trigger on, targets that include Americans. Knowing how the CIA never relishes relinquishing its power, we will have to see who is really managing the US drone policy in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Algeria, Mali, Sudan, Nigeria, the Congo and places we probably have yet to find out.

A handful of very brave American patriots who have spent long careers employed as CIA agents around the world motivated by their conscience have boldly come out of the shadows as CIA whistleblowers at incredible risk to themselves. Cold Warriors such as Ralph McGehee, John Stockwell, Phillip Agee and most recently imprisoned John Kiriakou for exposing the CIA torture practice of waterboarding have all gone public with disclosure of numerous atrocities violating every international law that the CIA has systematically been practicing since the early 1950’s. As a result, these true patriots have suffered horrendous harassment for their heroic choice to come clean with their part in revealing CIA wrongdoing over the years. Murder, assassination, coups, terrorism, propaganda, disinformation, torture and false flags are all typical CIA weapons in its arsenal. The CIA whistleblower consensus is that US intelligence agencies are all very self-serving, devoting unlimited time, energy and money to sealing the real truth at any cost from both the American government and its citizens in order to eliminate any chance of oversight and accountability.

Realizing its disconnect with Americans who are increasingly onto the destructive abuse of its power while attempting to keep up with the times, this last weekend the CIA officially launched its social media Facebook and Twitter pages in a pandering effort to reflect a more open and transparent positive image of itself to the American public. Projecting a superficial public profile cannot cover up its darkened sinister past nor its countless heinous acts of terrorism and murder regardless of the sugarcoated gloss from an internet makeover.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/getting-away-with-murder-immunity-of-the-us-intelligence-from-criminal-prosecution/5386827″ data-title=”“Getting Away with Murder”: Immunity of the US Intelligence from Criminal Prosecution”>

 

Articles by:Joachim Hagopian

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Four Myths About the Bowe Bergdahl Swap That Must Be Destroyed

Don’t believe everything you hear when it comes to the return of the highest profile American POW in a generation.

A video still shows the handover of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl (right) to U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan. AP Photo/Voice Of Jihad Website via AP video Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/four-myths-about-the-bowe-bergdahl-swap-that-must-be-destroyed-20140605#ixzz33tLrzDiJ Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

A video still shows the handover of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl (right) to U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan.
AP Photo/Voice Of Jihad Website via AP video 

 

June 5, 2014 1:55 PM ET

The return of U.S. prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Guantanamo-held Taliban of varying importance has become the most important foreign policy story in the country this week. As a result, there has been a lot of great reporting on what the swap does and doesn’t mean, how it happened, and how it could affect the war in the future.

Read Rolling Stone‘s 2012 feature on Bowe Bergdahl, written by the late Michael Hastings

Unfortunately, there has also been a lot of reporting that is either sensationalistic, simplistic or straight-up inaccurate. In trying to grapple with how the U.S. conducts matters of war, peace, and international law enforcement, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. Below are four examples of things everybody seems to know, which just happened to be either incorrect or far from certain.

MYTH: This sets a dangerous precedent that the U.S. will negotiate with terrorists

In the first minutes after Bergdahl was released on May 31st, various media and political elites took up the all-too-predictable rallying cry that the U.S. doesn’t negotiate with terrorists. The claim – in this context – is absurd for at least three distinct reasons. Though the White House recently said the Taliban is on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists by executive order, the Taliban is not actually on the U.S. State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The distinction may be somewhat academic, but confusing or conflating the Taliban with Al Qaeda (as John McCain recently did on CNN) is bad analysis and bad policy. The Taliban is primarily a local political and military organization, and has demonstrated little or no interest in attacking U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.

Second, the U.S. – and many other countries – in fact do negotiate with terrorists and other unseemly figures and organizations. This prisoner swap is far from unprecedented, and as President Obama said, this is what happens at the end of a war.

Third, as the Kabul-based journalist (and Rolling Stone contributor) Matt Aikins pointed out, “It’s a war, not a hostage crisis, dummies.” In a war, it’s generally better not to give an enemy an incentive to kill your side’s captured soldiers – which would be the perverse outcome of taking a strict “don’t negotiate” stance.

MYTH: These five Taliban are the hardest of the hardcore

Just as predictable as the first myth, this one will be even more difficult to destroy. Despite the 13-year occupation of Afghanistan, the U.S. media and political establishment continues to see the country primarily through the black-and-white lens that George W. Bush so clearly laid out: “Either you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists.” One needn’t defend the Taliban to acknowledge that political and military allegiances in Afghanistan are often tenuous and shifting, and clear distinctions between friend and enemy are even more fraught in that country (especially under U.S. occupation) than in more conventional conflicts.

A post from the Afghan Analysts Network actually describes all five talibs and their relative significance in the Taliban, and casts serious doubts on the U.S. intelligence that was used to justify their detention.

“Fazl is the only one of the five to face accusations of explicit war crimes and they are, indeed, extremely serious. One would also want to say that Wasiq was deputy head of an agency which carried out torture – except that torture has always been carried out by Afghan intelligence whoever has been in charge and, indeed, this has been no bar to close cooperation with it by the U.S. and other countries since 2001. There is no or little evidence of criminal wrong-doing against the other three men.”

The same piece from AAN details how four of the five surrendered at the beginning of the U.S. invasion, “in return for promised safe passage home or had reached out to the new administration in Kabul.” In fact, virtually the entire Taliban surrendered within months of the invasion, leaving the U.S. military with a war but not an enemy.

Anand Gopal, who lived in Afghanistan for years and traveled to areas of the country few journalists go, details in remarkable clarity how that happened and then how the Taliban reconstituted itself in his new book, No Good Men Among the Living.

MYTH: Six to eight U.S. soldiers died looking for Bergdahl

Again, this talking point has incredible resonance, because it feels like the kind of thing that really could be true. But as The New York Times has noted, the facts are actually far less clear. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has commented that “I do not know of specific circumstances or details of U.S. solders dying as a result of efforts to find and rescue Sergeant Bergdahl.” And blaming Bergdahl’s disappearance for every death in Patika province during one of the most deadly periods in the war simply doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. (As an aside, part of the reason we know what we know about Bergdahl’s disappearance comes from the Wikileaks trove provided by Army leaker Chelsea Manning – further evidence of how valuable that leak was and continues to be.)

MYTH: The swap shows Obama’s willful disregard for the law and his embracing of an imperial presidency

This is a tough one, because by virtually all accounts Obama did violate the law by negotiating Bergdahl’s release without Congress’ express permission. That’s a big deal, and a legitimate criticism of the swap – as opposed to the “don’t negotiate with terrorists” line, which is opportunistic, disingenuous and terrible policy. Recent reports from the Associated Press that the Taliban threatened to kill Bergdahl if news of the swap leaked certainly bolster the administration’s claims for the need for secrecy (even if they likely wouldn’t change the legality of ignoring the law).

But the real problem with seeing the swap as an example of Imperial Obama is that there are so many better examples that highlight his expansive interpretation of executive authority. Take, for instance, the extrajudicial killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al Awlaki in 2011. Though that killing raised considerable levels of concern from human rights groups – and eventually some politicians – the controversy never rose to the level that the prison swap reached almost immediately this week.

Or take an even more troubling and recent example of Obama’s vast theories of presidential power – a Congressional hearing wherein two top lawyers couldn’t give clear examples of what powers the president would lose if Congress repealed the AUMF (the law passed immediately after 9/11 upon which virtually all military action since has rested). The administration seems to be claiming that under Article II of the Constitution, and under an incredibly broad and expansive definition of self-defense, they could continue to carry out drone strikes in Yemen and perhaps even continue to hold people in Guantanamo Bay even if the AUMF were repealed.

That’s all a way of saying: Obama using his claimed powers to free Guantanamo detainees troubles Congress greatly. Using those same powers to detain or kill people, apparently, isn’t nearly as concerning.

13 Things You Need to Know About Bowe Bergdahl

Key facts from the late Michael Hastings’ profile of the freed Taliban POW

20140602-bowe-x600-1401746635

A sign showing support for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Scott Olson/Getty Images

 

By Tim Dickinson
June 2, 2014 6:00 PM ET

The late Michael Hastings wrote the definitive magazine profile of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for Rolling Stone in June 2012. Now that America’s Last Prisoner of War has been released, in a prisoner exchange for five high-ranking Taliban officials, Hastings’ piece continues to offer crucial context – about why Bergdahl volunteered for service in the first place, about how this intense, moral young man became so horrified by America’s “good war” that he walked away from his unit’s remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan in 2009, and about the abortive negotiations that could have secured Bergdahls release years ago.

Here 13 things you need to know about the American POW who is coming finally home, in the words of Hastings’ 2012 feature.

1) Bowe grew up near Hailey, Idaho, the son of California expats and ski bums Jani and Bob Bergdahl, who lived “nearly off the grid” on 40 acres, home-schooling Bowe and his sister Sky in a demanding curriculum:

Devout Calvinists, they taught the children for six hours a day, instructing them in religious thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine. “Ethics and morality would be constant verbiage in our conversations,” his father recalls. “Bowe was definitely instilled with truth. He was very philosophical about perceiving ethics.”

2) Obsessed with Bear Grylls and Man vs. Wild, Bowe sought at age 20 to join the French Foreign Legion.

He traveled to Paris and started to learn French, but his application was rejected. “He was absolutely devastated when the French Foreign Legion didn’t take him,” Bob says.

3) Seeking adventure, instead, in American uniform, Bergdahl enlisted in the Army in 2008. His intensity alienated fellow soldiers. A friend from his unit, Jason Fry, recalled Bowe’s fierce independence and his prophetic warning:

“He wanted to be a mercenary, wanted to be a free gun,” says Fry. “He had a notion he was a survivalist, claimed he knew how to survive with nothing because he grew up in Idaho…. Before we deployed… him and I were talking about what it would be like,” Fry recalls. Bowe looked at his friend and made no bones about his plans. “If this deployment is lame,” Bowe said, “I’m just going to walk off into the mountains of Pakistan.”

4) Bergdahl’s unit in Afghanistan — part of the Obama surge — was beset by deficits of leadership, “a collapse in unit morale and an almost complete breakdown of authority.”

The unruly situation was captured by … a British documentary filmmaker [whose] footage shows a bunch of soldiers who no longer give a shit: breaking even the most basic rules of combat, like wearing baseball caps on patrol instead of helmets.

5) As his tour dragged on, the hellish reality of war — including seeing an Afghan child run over by an American truck — weighed on Bergdahl, who came to see America’s presence in Afghan as “disgusting.”

“I am sorry for everything here,” Bowe told his parents. “These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid…
“We don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks.”

6) After receiving an email from his father exhorting him to “OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE,” Bowe slipped out of his unit’s barracks on June 30th, 2009. One man versus the wilds of Afghanistan, Bergdahl was equipped with just a knife, water, a digital camera and his diary. Barely 24 hours later, he’d be taken prisoner. Bergdahl’s capture is recorded in radio intercepts later released by WikiLeaks:

“WHAT HAPPENED. IS THAT TRUE THAT THEY CAPTURED AN AMERICAN GUY?”

“YES THEY DID. HE IS ALIVE.”

7) Bergdahl could have been freed in a prisoner exchange almost immediately, but the American officer in charge did not pull the trigger on a prisoner swap:

Tribal elders from the nearby village…had been asked by the Taliban to arrange a trade with U.S. forces. The insurgents wanted 15 of their jailed fighters released, along with an unidentified sum of money, in exchange for Bowe. The officer hedged, unwilling or unable to make such a bargain, and no deal was struck.

8) There was an official cover-up — one that included White House pressure on the New York Times and AP to keep Bergdahl’s name out of the papers.

[T]he Pentagon also scrambled to shut down any public discussion of Bowe. Members of Bowe’s brigade were required to sign nondisclosure agreements [forbidding] them to discuss any “personnel recovery” efforts – an obvious reference to Bowe…. As Bowe’s sister, Sky, wrote in a private e-mail: “I am afraid our government here in D.C. would like nothing better but to sweep PFC Bergdahl under the rug and wash their hands of him.”

9) At one point during his captivity, Bergdahl escaped:

For his part, Bowe does not appear to be a willing hostage. [In] August or September [of 2011], he reportedly managed to escape. When he was recaptured, he put up such a struggle that it took five militants to overpower him. “He fought like a boxer,” [said] a Taliban fighter who had seen Bowe.

10) Negotiations to bring Bergdahl home have been in the works for years — with Obama originally imagining the prisoner swap as an election-year overture toward a durable peace with the Taliban.

President Obama [has] announced that the United States will now pursue “a negotiated peace” with the Taliban. That peace is likely to include a prisoner swap – or a “confidence-building measure,” as U.S. officials working on the negotiations call it – that could finally end the longest war in America’s history. Bowe is the one prisoner the Taliban have to trade. “It could be a huge win if Obama could bring him home,” says a senior administration official familiar with the negotiations. “Especially in an election year, if it’s handled properly.”

11) But the swap didn’t have the backing of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Pentagon chief Leon Panetta, who weren’t ready to negotiate an end to the war, preferring the bloody path of counterinsurgency operations.

…Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are very wary about making a swap for Bowe. “Panetta and Hillary don’t give a shit about getting him home,” says one senior U.S. official involved in the negotiations. “They want to be able to say they COINed their way out of Afghanistan, or whatever, so it doesn’t look like they are cutting and running.”

12) The negotiations were also impeded by Senator John McCain, who was typically level-headed in this exchange with future Secretary of State John Kerry.

McCain, who endured almost six years of captivity as a prisoner of war, threw a fit at the prospect of releasing five Taliban detainees.
“They’re the five biggest murderers in world history!” McCain fumed.
Kerry, who supported the transfer, thought that was going a bit far. “John,” he said, “the five biggest murderers in the world?”
McCain was furious at the rebuke. “They killed Americans!” he responded. “I suppose Senator Kerry is OK with that?”

13) The bureaucratic clusterfuck in Washington had even led Bergdahl’s heartbroken father to seek his own negotiations with Bowe’s captors — explaining Bob Bergdahl’s beard and controversial command of conversational Arabic and Pashto.

Bob has considered going over to Pakistan – he’s grown a bushy beard, and he has sent his own YouTube video, directed at the Taliban, asking for his son’s release. “I’ll talk to them,” he says. “I’ll bring him home myself.”

Will Justice Be Served in the A-Team Killings?  [To be continued]

 

 

Prisoner Exchange With the Taliban: The Release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

 

Why Was the FBI Investigating Michael Hastings’ Reporting on Bowe Bergdahl?

michaelhastings

Michael Hastings

By Alice Speri

June 3, 2014 | 4:40 pm

 

Three years into the disappearance of Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan, Michael Hastings — the journalist whose reporting cost General Stanley McChrystal his job — wrote a Rolling Stone story on the missing soldier, a piece which the magazine called “the definitive first account of Bowe Bergdahl.”

Hastings, who died in a car accident in Los Angeles in June 2013, had unparalleled access for that story.

Last POW in Afghanistan has been freed. Read more here.

He spoke to Bergdahl’s parents, who had by that time stopped talking to the press, following “subtle pressure” from the army, and he quoted from emails the young soldier had sent to them, documenting his growing disillusion with the war and the US military.

Hastings also spoke to several unnamed men in Bergdahl’s unit — soldiers who, we now know, had to sign a strict nondisclosure agreement forbidding them from discussing the soldier’s disappearance and search with anyone — let alone one of the top investigative journalists in the country.

‘Michael and Matt both worked really, really hard on that story, and I know for a fact that they did it in a way that completely angered the US military and the US government.’

But most controversially, Hastings’ piece revealed what has been the subject of much debate and vitriol over the last few days: That a disillusioned Bergdahl had actually abandoned his post and “walked away.”

At the time of the story’s publication, the media had all but forgotten about Bergdahl — who was released on Saturday after five years in the hands of the Taliban, in exchange for five Guantanamo prisoners. And, with the exception of some initial chatter, Hastings’ piece, which paints a deeply unflattering picture of Bergdahl’s unit and its leadership, hardly had the impact of some of his other investigations.

But someone did pay attention to it: the FBI.

That, at least, is what was revealed in a heavily redacted document released by the agency following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request — filed on the day of Hastings’ death — by investigative journalist Jason Leopold and Ryan Shapiro, an MIT doctoral student whom the Justice Department once called the “most prolific” requester of FOIA documents.

‘Superhero’ suing feds over Nelson Mandela’s 1962 arrest records. Read more here.

The document, partially un-redacted after Leopold and Shapiro engaged in a lengthy legal battle with the FBI for failing to fulfill its FOIA obligations, singles out Hastings’ Rolling Stone piece — “America’s Last Prisoner of War” — as “controversial reporting.” It names Hastings and Matthew Farwell, a former soldier in Afghanistan and a contributing reporter to Hastings’ piece.

‘If this deployment is lame, I’m just going to walk off into the mountains of Pakistan.’

The document also included an Associated Press report based on the Rolling Stone piece, and what it identifies as a “blog entry” penned by Gary Farwell, Matthew’s father — which actually appears to be a comment entry on the Idaho Statesman’s website.

“The article reveals private email excerpts, from [redacted] to his parents. The excerpts include quotes about being ‘ashamed to even be American,’ and threats that, ‘If this deployment is lame, I’m just going to walk off into the mountains of Pakistan,’” the FBI file reads. “The Rolling Stone article ignited a media frenzy, speculating about the circumstances of [redacted] capture, and whether US resources and effort should continue to be expended for his recovery.”

‘I’m happy the FBI is reading Rolling Stone on the job.’

The FBI file — as well as a Department of Justice document released in response to Leopold and Shapiro’s lawsuit — suggests that Hastings and Farwell’s reporting got swept up into an “international terrorist investigation” into Bergdahl’s disappearance.

A spokesperson for the FBI told VICE News that the agency does not normally comment on pending investigations and that it lets FOIA documents “speak for themselves.” The investigation was still pending as of last month, Leopold said.

According to the files — and a rare public statement by the FBI following Hastings’ death — Hastings was never directly under investigation by the agency, despite having pissed off a lot of people in very high places.

White House defends prisoner swap to free American POW. Read more here.

But it is not exactly clear why Hastings and Farwell’s “controversial” reporting made it into a criminal investigation that was already active before they even wrote the Rolling Stone story.

‘The FBI says Hastings was not a target of their investigation but his reporting was. How do you investigate someone’s reporting without investigating them?’

“Michael and Matt both worked really, really hard on that story, and I know for a fact that they did it in a way that completely angered the US military and the US government, and while other reporters were steering away from it, they were totally on it,” Leopold told VICE News. “The FBI was investigating this, whether they were investigating Michael or investigating the story, and there was a lot of fear around it, because they characterized the story as ‘controversial’ — whatever that means.”

“Then the question became, why was the FBI looking at this, what were they looking at?” Leopold added. “The FBI says Hastings was not a target of their investigation but his reporting was. How do you investigate someone’s reporting without investigating them?”

Farwell declined to discuss the details of the file, but told VICE News, “I’m happy the FBI is reading Rolling Stone on the job.”

He had not known that his name, and his father’s, showed up in the FBI’s files until Leopold pointed it out to him. Leopold told VICE News: “When I showed Matt these files he was like, oh my god, this is basically outlining my conversations.”

Farwell said: “When it first came out it was just Michael, and Jason was like, ‘Hey dude, this has your dad in it.’ And I was like, ‘Oh shit, they’re talking about me in these redactions, that’s weird.’ Anyway, I signed a privacy waiver and sent it out to Jason.”

Entire paragraphs in the FBI documents remain redacted — leaving many questions about the scope of the investigation into the journalists’ work. But the un-redacted sections about Farwell characterize him as a 10th Mountain infantryman, who helped broker a meeting between Hastings and — presumably — some of the sources for the Rolling Stone story.

Now that Bergdahl is free, the lid on Pandora’s box has been lifted.

In his comment on the Idaho Statesman‘s site, also picked up in the FBI file, Farwell Senior comes to Bergdahl’s defense after the Rolling Stone article sparked backlash against the soldier, of a similar sort that we are seeing today. He also credits his son for brokering Hastings’ meeting with the Bergdahls.

“I’m going to excuse that young kid for his choice of words, but I’m not going to excuse the leadership of his outfit, nor the misguided policies of our government in Afghanistan and elsewhere which have put our young people in harms way without a clear vision of what they are doing,” Farwell, himself a retired Air Force officer, wrote then. “It’s my hope this Rolling Stone article helps the Bergdahl’s get their son back and helps expose some misguided policies and conduct far above the pay grade of this young disillusioned soldier.”

Now that Bergdahl is free, the lid on Pandora’s box has been lifted.

‘Even before Bergdahl’s release, “the dam was getting ready to burst.”’

“For five years, soldiers have been forced to stay silent about the disappearance and search for Bergdahl. Now we can talk about what really happened,” Nathan Bradley Bethea, who served in Bergdahl’s battalion, wrote in the Daily Beast on Monday. “I served in the same battalion in Afghanistan and participated in the attempts to retrieve him throughout the summer of 2009. After we redeployed, every member of my brigade combat team received an order that we were not allowed to discuss what happened to Bergdahl for fear of endangering him. He is safe, and now it is time to speak the truth.”

“Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down,” Bethea stated.

Soldiers forced to silence for years have now taken their accounts — and anger — about the missing soldier’s ordeal to social media and the press. Republican strategists eager to turn Bergdahl into the next Benghazi have also jumped on the opportunity to offer critics of the young “deserter” up for interviews, as the New York Times noted today.

‘As for the circumstances of his capture, when he is able to provide them, we’ll learn the facts.’

In the last few days, Bergdahl has been blamed with the deaths of “every American soldier killed in Paktika Province in the four-month period that followed his disappearance,” according to the Times — charges that the Pentagon dismissed as unsubstantiated. Today it was reported that the army will launch an inquiry into the circumstances of Bergdahl’s disappearance and his personal conduct.

“The questions about this particular soldier’s conduct are separate from our effort to recover ANY U.S. service member in enemy captivity,” General Martin E. Dempsey said in a Facebook post today. “As for the circumstances of his capture, when he is able to provide them, we’ll learn the facts. Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty. Our Army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred.”

The Gitmo prisoner exchange puts deals above grim justice. Read more.

A US Army investigation into Bergdahl’s own conduct might appease or inflame his critics. But even before Bergdahl’s release, “the dam was getting ready to burst,” Farwell said.

“That was one of the weirdest things about the case, that everyone in the whole brigade was required to sign a pretty strict nondisclosure agreement that was enforced at a pretty high level, so basically if any of the people from that unit talked about Bowe, they thought they could be losing their careers,” Farwell said. “It was a blanket statement, ‘you will not talk about anything about this.’”

And while there is no suggestion — in the un-redacted bits of the FBI file on Hastings — that the agency was after any soldier who had taken his frustrations to the press, the fact that the FBI was looking into the reporters’ sources and methods raises at least the question.

Now, everyone wants to talk about it. But Hastings’ ever “controversial” reporting got to it first.

 

Michael Hastings Was Investigating Brennan’s Crackdown on Investigative Journalists Before His Death

Source: San Diego 6 News.

This week Elise Jordan, wife of famed journalist Michael Hastings, who recently died under suspicious circumstances, corroborated this reporter’s sources that CIA Director, John Brennan was Hastings next exposé project (CNN clip).

Last month a source provided San Diego 6 News with an alarming email hacked from super secret CIA contractor Stratfor’s President Fred Burton. The email (link here) was posted on WikiLeaks and alleged that then Obama counter-terrorism Czar Brennan, was in charge of the government’s continued crackdown or witch-hunt on investigative journalists.

After providing the Stratfor email to the CIA for comment, the spymaster’s spokesperson responded in lightning speed. Two emails were received; one acknowledging Hastings was working on a CIA story and the other said, “Without commenting on information disseminated by WikiLeaks, any suggestion that Director Brennan has ever attempted to infringe on constitutionally-protected press freedoms is offensive and baseless.”

Source: San Diego 6 News. Read full article. (link)