In the height of a number of scandals for the Obama administration, a journalist whose coverage gave the president a reason to fire the leader of coalition forces in Afghanistan has died.
Michael Hastings, 33, wrote “The Runaway General” article for Rolling Stone magazine in June 2010 in which Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his aides said disparaging things about Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Hastings’ body was burned beyond recognition in the single-car crash at 4:25 a.m. in the 600 block of North Highland Ave. in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles, which is a residential area with lanes on either side of a grassy median.
“It sounded like a bomb went off in the middle of the night,” another witness told the TV station. “The house shook, my windows were rattling.” Another witness noted that the engine flew far from the car.
Police said he was driving a brand-new Mercedes.
Obama and McChrystal tangled in 2009 when the general went public with the need for more troops, saying in a leaked report to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, “We are going to win.” The White House, meanwhile, had been encouraging the commander to just worry about degrading the Taliban instead of defeating them.
“Even though he had voted for Obama, McChrystal and his new commander in chief failed from the outset to connect. The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the president met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as the Tank. According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked ‘uncomfortable and intimidated’ by the roomful of military brass,” Hastings wrote in the Rolling Stone piece. “Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn’t go much better. ‘It was a 10-minute photo op,’ says an adviser to McChrystal. ‘Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his fucking war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.’”
Just one day after Hastings’ article appeared online, before the issue even hit the newsstands, Obama called McChrystal to his office to accept his resignation. The four-star general then announced his retirement from the Army.
A subsequent Pentagon inquiry found no proof of wrongdoing by McChrystal and his aides and found no witnesses to corroborate key parts of Hastings’ article.
Hastings’ last story, for BuzzFeed, was “Why Democrats Love to Spy on Americans.”