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Friday, June 21, 2013

The sad, odd death of Michael Hastings

The journalist Michael Hastings, a strong critic of rogue behavior by the state, died in a car crash in LA on June 18.

Everyone agrees his car hit a tree, but from there opinions diverge. Some see it as a clear case of drunk driving and/or reckless driving. Others have noted how convenient Hastings' death was for people in power and suggested it was no accident. The Los Angeles Times reports that more information on the accident is coming soon: "The crash is under investigation and there will be an official accident report after a toxicology test is completed in the coming weeks."

The Rancid Honeytrap has a typically brilliant, and also fair-minded (not always his strong suit) examination here of conspiracy theories about Hasting's death. Excerpt:

Just for the record, I am not advancing a theory here. I noticed a lot of people who I don’t consider knee-jerk conspiracists were made particularly uncomfortable by Hastings death, especially when details of the accident emerged. Predictably, there was the customarily strong push to belittle these suspicions with talk of tinfoil hats and conspiracy theories and nutjobs.

Though I don’t generally embrace most conspiracy theories, I also don’t find knee-jerk anti-conspiracism any more thoughtful or satisfying if it isn’t predicated on something weightier than the assumed essential decency of the state and its agents, or presumed knowingness about how conspiracies work or don’t. This has always struck me as a form of exceptionalism that ignores both our own domestic history and this country’s foreign policy now and in the past.

I thought the post was evenhanded, but Gawker has tried to squash it.  Borromeo, a commenter on the post, remarks, "Did the FBI not kill someone they were interrogating? Yes they did. Did the story not fall apart piece by piece? Yes. Did anyone in the news media actually follow up on the story to get to the bottom of it? No. Has anyone held the FBI accountable? No." (See this if you can't figure out what Borromeo is talking about.)

Somewhat related perhaps. (Hat tip, John Merritt.)

Michael Johnson weighs in with a typically fine post. (Worth a separate blog post that will go up soon.)

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