Journalist Michael Hastings sent chilling email to colleagues before death

Mere hours before the fiery car crash that took his life, journalist Michael Hastings sent an email to friends and colleagues urging them to get legal counsel if they were approached by federal authorities.

“Hey [redacted] the Feds are interviewing my ‘close friends and associates,'” read the message dated June 17 at 12:56 p.m. from Hastings to editors at the website BuzzFeed, where he worked.

“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.”

Hastings added that he was onto a big story and that he would, “need to go off the radat [radar] for a bit,” according to KTLA in Los Angeles.

Fifteen hours later, in the early morning of June 18, Hastings was driving a Mercedes C250 at a high speed when he lost control in Los Angeles’ Hancock Park neighborhood, causing the car to fishtail and crash into a palm tree. The impact caused the car to burst into flames, trapping the 33-year-old inside.

Conspiracy theories surrounding Hastings’ death began to circulate almost immediately.

On Twitter and several sites across the web, speculation was rampant that the death of Hastings — whose 2010 article for Rolling Stone led to the resignation of U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then head of the U.S. operation in Afghanistan — was no accident.

Also Friday, WikiLeaks released two messages on Twitter that added fuel to the fire.

Read more here.

Obama and GOPers Worked Together to Kill Bush Torture Probe

A WikiLeaks cable shows that when Spain considered a criminal case against ex-Bush officials, the Obama White House and Republicans got really bipartisan.

In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies the that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects. A “confidential” April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department—one of the 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks—details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution.

The previous month, a Spanish human rights group called the Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners had requested that Spain’s National Court indict six former Bush officials for, as the cable describes it, “creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture.” The six were former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; David Addington, former chief of staff and legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney; William Haynes, the Pentagon’s former general counsel; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy; Jay Bybee, former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel; and John Yoo, a former official in the Office of Legal Counsel. The human rights group contended that Spain had a duty to open an investigation under the nation’s “universal jurisdiction” law, which permits its legal system to prosecute overseas human rights crimes involving Spanish citizens and residents. Five Guantanamo detainees, the group maintained, fit that criteria.

Soon after the request was made, the US embassy in Madrid began tracking the matter. On April 1, embassy officials spoke with chief prosecutor Javier Zaragoza, who indicated that he was not pleased to have been handed this case, but he believed that the complaint appeared to be well-documented and he’d have to pursue it. Around that time, the acting deputy chief of the US embassy talked to the chief of staff for Spain’s foreign minister and a senior official in the Spanish Ministry of Justice to convey, as the cable says, “that this was a very serious matter for the USG.” The two Spaniards “expressed their concern at the case but stressed the independence of the Spanish judiciary.”

Read more here.

Soldier Busted for Leaking to WikiLeaks

by: Justin Fishel

Washington D.C. — Army officials apprehended an intelligence analyst accused of releasing classified military information to the self-proclaimed “whistle-blowing” website, WikiLeaks.

The militay said Monday Specialist Bradley Manning, 22, of Potomac, Maryland is being held in pre-trial confinement in Kuwait. Manning is deployed with 2nd Brigade 10th Mountain Division, in Baghdad, Iraq.

“The Department of Defense takes the management of classified information very seriously because it affects our national security, the lives of our Soldiers, and our operations abroad,” a statement from U.S Forces-Iraq reads.

In April WikiLeaks made headlines when it released classified military footage it titled “Collateral Murder”, which showed showed Army forces shooting Iraqis from helicopters and killing two Reuters cameramen, among others. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the video amounted to the “indiscriminate slaying” of Iraqis and “another day at the office” for the U.S. Army.

Fox News later reported that Assange failed show that some of the Iraqi’s in that video were carrying weapons, including RPG’s and AK-47’s.

According the WIRED.com, Manning was exposed after telling online hacker, Adrian Lamo, that he was the one who released the video. Lamo told the FBI and the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command that he felt compelled to turn Manning in after Manning also took credit for releasing hundreds of thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables from the State Department. Lamo said Manning also boasted of using his top secret clearance to access a separate video he gave to WikiLeaks that captured the deadly 2009 Garani air strike in Afghanistan.

WikiLeaks told Fox News in April that it has that video in its possession and that it will eventually be made public.

On its website WikiLeaks published two references to diplomatic cables in January and February of 2010, but so far neither of those documents have received as much attention as the video it released.

Christopher Grey, a spokesman for Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID), says an investigation into Manning’s alleged crimes is ongoing and that his division is in contact with prosecutors in Iraq. Formal charges could be announced out at any point.