Tag Archive: Michael Hastings

Jul 27 2013

Chris Hedges: Answering Questions

In Part 7, and the final segment, of a series of interviews by Paul Jay of Real News Network, journalist and author, Chris Hedges answers viewers questions including about the American public’s complicity in the crimes of empire, if there’s any hope for Bradley Manning and whether the U.S. or Israel will attack Iran.

To the question of the American public’s responsibility for the crimes committed in its name, Hedges said:

   I would say very few Americans-and the exception would be probably those in the armed forces and those who work for contractors or the diplomatic service-actually grasp the dirty work of empire. Having spent 20 years of my life on the fringes of empire and seen how empire works, Conrad was right. It’s the horror, the horror. What is it that drones and hellfire missiles do to human bodies? Those images are rigorously censored. We never see them. We don’t understand what is done in our name. Instead, we’re fed this patriotic myth of glory and service and sacrifice and honor and heroism, terms that when you’re actually there on a battlefield become hollow if not obscene.

Transcript can be read here

Jun 20 2013

In Memoriam: Michael Hastings 1980 – 2013

Investigative reporter and author, Michael Hasting died in Los Angeles, CA. His death in single vehicle car crash has shocked his friends, colleagues and those of us who admired his work. His article in Rolling Stone, The Runaway General which  profiled US Army general Stanley McChrystal, then commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in the war in Afghanistan. It was Michael’s report on the remarks by McChrystal’s staff that were overtly critical and contemptuous of White House staff and other civilian officials that ended with McChrystal being relieved of command by President Barack Obama.

Michael said in a Today Show interview with Matt Lauer, “I did not think Gen. McChrystal would be fired. In fact, I thought his position was basically untouchable, I thought it would give them a headache for maybe 72 hours.”

It put Michael on all our maps.

Amy Goodman has a look back Michael’s interviews on Democracy Now!

Here are two of the many tributes at Rolling Stone and BuzzFeed where Michael was a contributor, followed by Rachel Maddow’s tribute, who met Michael when she was working for Air America Radio.

Michael Hastings, ‘Rolling Stone’ Contributor, Dead at 33

by Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone

For Hastings, there was no romance to America’s misbegotten wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He had felt the horror of war first-hand: While covering the Iraq war for Newsweek in early 2007, his then-fianceé, an aide worker, was killed in a Baghdad car bombing. Hastings memorialized that relationship in his first book, I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story.

A contributing editor to Rolling Stone, Hastings leaves behind a remarkable legacy of reporting, including an exposé of America’s drone war, an exclusive interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at his hideout in the English countryside, an investigation into the Army’s illicit use of “psychological operations” to influence sitting Senators and a profile of Taliban captive Bowe Bergdahl, “America’s Last Prisoner of War.

Matt Farwell is a veteran of the Afghanistan war who worked as a co-reporter with Hastings on some of his recent pieces. He sent this eulogy to Rolling Stone:  “My friend Michael Hastings died last night in a car crash in Los Angeles. Writing this feels almost ghoulish: I still haven’t processed the fact that he’s gone. Today we all feel that loss: whether we’re friends of Michael’s, or family, or colleagues or readers, the world has gotten a bit smaller. As a journalist, he specialized in speaking truth to power and laying it all out there. He was irascible in his reporting and sometimes/often/always infuriating in his writing: he lit a bright lamp for those who wanted to follow his example.

Missing Michael Hastings

by Ben Smith, BuzzFeed

Michael Hastings was really only interested in writing stories someone didn’t want him to write – often his subjects; occasionally his editor. While there is no template for a great reporter, he was one for reasons that were intrinsic to who he was: ambitious, skeptical of power and conventional wisdom, and incredibly brave. And he was warm and honest in a way that left him many unlikely friends among people you’d expect to hate him. [..]

Some of that was Michael’s warmth, charm, and charisma. Some of it, I think, was the opposite: His anger and fearlessness made working with him, or against him, something more than the usual journalistic transaction. There’s a relief in dealing with someone and knowing where he stands.

In a way, Michael was born too late: He wrote with the sort of commitment of the generation of reporters shaped by the government’s lies about Vietnam, not by the triumphalism of the 1990s or the reflexive patriotism of the years after 9/11. He was surer than most of us that power is, presumptively, not to be trusted. Writers of his courage and talent are so rare, and he was taken way too soon. There are few like him. We will miss him terribly.

I wrote an article recently about Pres. Obama’s defense of his secretive drone war that featured Michael’s appearance on the Up with Steve Kornacki panel. I re-watched those videos last night admiring how forceful and accurate Michael was in his criticism.

Michael, you will be so missed.

May 27 2013

Obama’s Neoconservative World

While much of the media was praising President Barack Obama’s speech on counter-terrorism and closing the military detention center at Guantanamo, others were hearing a reconfirmation of the neoconservative the war on terror, especially an expansion of the drone program and targeted assassinations:

But Obama’s speech appeared to expand those who are targeted in drone strikes and other undisclosed “lethal actions” in apparent anticipation of an overhaul of the 2001 congressional resolution authorizing the use of force against al Qaida and allied groups that supported the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

In every previous speech, interview and congressional testimony, Obama and his top aides have said that drone strikes are restricted to killing confirmed “senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces” plotting imminent violent attacks against the United States.

But Obama dropped that wording Thursday, making no reference at all to senior operational leaders. While saying that the United States is at war with al Qaida and its associated forces, he used a variety of descriptions of potential targets, from “those who want to kill us” and “terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat” to “all potential terrorist targets.”

According to the above article from McClatchy, in a fact sheet that was distributed by the White House, targeted killings would continue outside “areas of active hostilities,” and could be used against “a senior operational leader of a terrorist organization or the forces that organization is using or intends to use to conduct terrorist attacks.” If the president’s intent was to quell the criticism of  charges by some legal scholars and civil and human rights groups, he fell more than a little flat, he outright failed.

During a panel discussion on MSNBC’s Up with Steve Kornacki, Buzz Feed corespondent Michael Hastings harshly shredded Pres. Obama speech sating that the president has bought into the Bush administration’s neoconservative world view:

“If you compare this speech to the speech he gave in Cairo, in 2009 or his Nobel Prize speech, you see almost a total rejection of the civil rights tradition that President Obama supposedly came out of… and just an embrace of total militarism,” Hastings said.

“That speech to me was essentially agreeing with President Bush and Vice President Cheney that we’re in this neo-conservative paradigm, that we’re at war with a jihadist threat that actually is not a nuisance but the most important threat we’re facing today,” Hastings continued.

The discussion continued on the ramifications of drone strikes on national security and US image with host Steve Kotnacki, Michael Hastings, Omar Farahstaff attorney in the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative; Perry Bacon, Jr., msnbc contributor; and Kiron Skinner, professor, Carnegie Mellon University.

In response to the president’s speech, the Miami Herald Editorial Board took him to task over the abuse of the power of his office and the need for congress to rein in the president during wartime:

The president attempted to strike a balance between the need to use force against persistent threats and the obligation to overhaul the structures put in place to respond to 9/11 – from the use of drones to the creation of the prison at Guantánamo Bay.

It’s about time. In the 12 years since the attack on the Twin Towers, presidential authority has expanded dramatically in response to the threat, but that does not mean it should be that way forever. It offends the constitutional foundation of American democracy for any chief executive to wield permanent, unchecked authority to order drone strikes anywhere in the world beyond our borders against anyone deemed a suitable target – including Americans – and past time to impose effective limits on such power. [..]

But the speech left many questions unanswered. The 16-page policy guideline the president approved prior to the speech remains classified. And despite all the talk about transparency, the administration is still withholding from Congress legal opinions governing targeted killings.

Despite the build up from the White House fed talking points to the news media, the president’s speech did little to reassure the public that he shifting away from perpetual war with no boarders.