Michael Hastings, who Rolling Stone magazine calls a “fearless” journalist whose “hallmark as a reported was his refusal to cozy up to power,” died in a car accident in Los Angeles early Tuesday morning. He was 33.
Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana called him "electric." He was one of those reporters who gave "the sense that there are stories burning inside them, and that there's no higher calling or greater way to live life than to be always relentlessly trying to find and tell those stories.”
Hastings leaves behind him a remarkable legacy of reporting on America’s wars. Below is a list of some of his most notable stories:
1. The Runaway General: A Profile Of General Stanley McChrystal (June, 2010)
Who could forget the Rolling Stone profile of Stanley McChrystal that changed history?
"The general prides himself on being sharper and ballsier than anyone else, but his brashness comes with a price: Although McChrystal has been in charge of the war for only a year, in that short time he has managed to piss off almost everyone with a stake in the conflict."
There is a reason that President Obama studiously avoids using the word 'victory' when he talks about Afghanistan. Winning, it would seem, is not really possible. Not even with Stanley McChrystal in charge."
2. Julian Assange: The Rolling Stone Interview (January, 2012)
Under house arrest in England, the WikiLeaks founder opens up about his battle with the "Times" his stint in solitary confinement, and the future of journalism.
"Assange sits on a tattered couch, wearing a wool sweater, dark pants and an electronic manacle around his right ankle, visible only when he crosses his legs. At 40, the WikiLeaks founder comes across more like an embattled rebel commander than a hacker or journalist. He's become better at handling the media — more willing to answer questions than he used to be, less likely to storm off during interviews — but the protracted legal battle has left him isolated, broke and vulnerable. Assange recently spoke to someone he calls a Western 'intelligence source,' and he asked the official about his fate. Will he ever be a free man again, allowed to return to his native Australia, to come and go as he pleases? 'He told me I was fucked,' Assange says."
3. Another Runaway General: Army Deploys Psy-Ops On U.S. Senators (February, 2012)
"The U.S. Army illegally ordered soldiers specializing in 'psychological operations' to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war, Rolling Stone has learned — and when an officer tried to stop the operation, he was railroaded by military investigators."
The incident offers an indication of just how desperate the U.S. command in Afghanistan is to spin American civilian leaders into supporting an increasingly unpopular war."
4. The Rise Of the Killer Drones: How America Goes to War in Secret (April, 2012)
An inside look at how killing by remote control has changed the way we fight:
"One day in late November, an unmanned aerial vehicle lifted off from Shindand Air Base in western Afghanistan, heading 75 miles toward the border with Iran. The drone's mission: to spy on Tehran's nuclear program, as well as any insurgent activities the Iranians might be supporting in Afghanistan. With an estimated price tag of $6 million, the drone was the product of more than 15 years of research and development, starting with a shadowy project called DarkStar overseen by Lockheed Martin. The first test flight for DarkStar took place in 1996, but after a crash and other mishaps, Lockheed announced that the program had been canceled. According to military experts, that was just a convenient excuse for 'going dark,' meaning that DarkStar's further development would take place under a veil of secrecy.
"For Nasser al-Awlaki, who lost his teenage grandson to a predator drone, such denials [of the drone program] are almost as shocking as the administration's deliberate decision to wage a remote-control war that would inevitably result in the deaths of innocent civilians. 'I could not believe America could do this – especially President Obama, who I liked very much,' he says. 'When he was elected, I thought he would solve all the problems of the world.'"
5. America’s Last Prisoner of War: Will America Leave a Man Behind? (June, 2012)
Three years ago, a 23-year-old soldier walked off his base in Afghanistan and into the hands of the Taliban. Now he’s a crucial pawn in negotiations to end the war. Will the Pentagon leave a man behind?
"The mother and father sit at the kitchen table in their Idaho farmhouse, watching their son on YouTube plead for his life. The Taliban captured 26-year-old Bowe Bergdahl almost three years ago, on June 30th, 2009, and since that day, his parents, Jani and Bob, have had no contact with him. Like the rest of the world, their lone glimpses of Bowe — the only American prisoner of war left in either Iraq or Afghanistan — have come through a series of propaganda videos, filmed while he's been in captivity.
"Release me, please!" Bowe screams at the camera. "I'm begging you — bring me home!"