Michael Hastings died in a car crash that had all the markings of a sophisticated computer hack, a former cybersecurity adviser to President George W. Bush said this week.
Richard Clarke, a former State Department official and adviser to several United States presidents, said the crash that killed the Rolling Stone journalist appeared to be consistent with what he called a "car cyberattack." Hastings died in the early morning hours on June 18 when his 2013 Mercedes C250 sped through Los Angeles streets before striking a tree and bursting into flames.
Clarke said the crash could have been orchestrated by a computer hacker able to gain access to the car's controls.
"What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it's relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn't want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn't want the brakes on, to launch an air bag," Clarke told The Huffington Post. "You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it's not that hard."
"So if there were a cyberattack on the car — and I'm not saying there was," Clarke continued, "I think whoever did it would probably get away with it."
Though the Los Angeles Police Department officially ruled Michael Hastings' death as an accident and said no foul play was involved, the circumstances of the crash left many questions.
Just before his death Hastings was working on a big story that those close to him believed would expose the CIA. On Monday, hours before he would die, Hastings wrote an email to close friends telling them the was onto a big story but fearful, and would need to go off the radar for a while.
The circumstances surrounding the death of Michael Hastings --- including witness accounts that said the crash sounded like a bomb going off --- have fueled many conspiracy theories. The International Business Times wrote that “some of the details surrounding the story [of Hastings' death] read like a poorly-written political thriller.”