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Wednesday, June 19, 2013 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | NEXT: Defiant Turkish Demonstrators "Finding New Ways to...
2013-06-19

Michael Hastings Dies at 33; Fearless Journalist Challenged Power & Exposed Myths of Afghan War

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The investigative journalist Michael Hastings has died at the age of 33 in a Los Angeles car crash. Reporting extensively from Iraq and Afghanistan, Hastings’ widely read stories showed the grim realities of war. His 2010 Rolling Stone article on General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, sparked a political controversy after McChrystal and his aides were quoted making disparaging remarks about top administration officials. The article exposed longstanding disagreements between civilian and military officials over the war’s direction and led to McChrystal’s firing. In a statement provided to Democracy Now!, the film director Oliver Stone said: "Michael Hastings went far in the span he had. One of our finest young investigative journalists, high stakes reporting in a sense cost him his life. We desperately need more and more young men and women such as Michael, willing to protest the intolerable war crimes and arrogance of our supremacy-seeking society." Rolling Stone issued this statement: "Hastings’ hallmark as a reporter was his refusal to cozy up to power. He leaves behind a remarkable legacy of reporting." We look back on two of of Hastings’ appearances on Democracy Now! in 2010 and 2012.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: And the journalist Michael Hastings has died at the age of 33. Hastings was killed in a car crash in Los Angeles early Tuesday morning. Reporting extensively from Iraq and Afghanistan, Hastings’ widely read stories showed the grim realities of war. His 2010 Rolling Stone article on General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, sparked a political controversy after McChrystal and his aides were quoted making disparaging remarks about top administration officials. The article exposed longstanding disagreements between civilian and military officials over the war’s direction and led to General McChrystal’s firing.

Speaking to Democracy Now! in 2012, Michael Hastings said the Afghan War, like the invasion of Iraq, was based on a false premise.

MICHAEL HASTINGS: If WMDs were the big lie of the Iraq War, the safe haven myth is the big lie of the Afghan War. And what I mean by that—and this was true in Iraq, as well—but 99 percent of the people, maybe even higher, honestly, the people we’re fighting, whether it was Sunni insurgents in Iraq or Shiite militias in Iraq or in Afghanistan, the Taliban never actually posed a threat to the United States homeland. So the question one has to ask oneself is that if everything we’re doing and everyone we’re fighting is not actually a threat to the United States—certainly not a direct threat, by any means, by any means—then why are we expending so many resources, $120 billion a year, you know, with all the lives lost, to do it? And that’s—and again, this is the big lie of counterinsurgency, which I know we’ve discussed on your show. To justify this tremendous outlay of resources, they have to say, "Oh, no, we’re killing terrorists." But everybody knows that that’s not true.

AMY GOODMAN: At the time of that interview, Michael Hastings had just come out with his book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan.

Tributes began spreading across the Internet Tuesday evening after news broke of Michael Hastings’ death. His former magazine, Rolling Stone, said, quote, "Hastings’ hallmark as reporter was his refusal to cozy up to power. He leaves behind a remarkable legacy of reporting," they wrote. In a statement provided to Democracy Now!, the film director Oliver Stone said, quote, "Michael Hastings went far in the span he had. One of our finest young investigative journalists, high stakes reporting in a sense cost him his life. We desperately need more and more young men and women such as Michael, willing to protest the intolerable war crimes and arrogance of our supremacy-seeking society," Stone wrote.

In his first interview with Democracy Now! in 2010, Michael Hastings discussed the foundation he established to honor the memory of his former fiancée, Andrea Parhamovich, who was killed by an IED in Iraq in 2007.

MICHAEL HASTINGS: It’s called the Andi Foundation. It’s a fund that helps—there’s domestic sort of scholarships we give out, but we’ve also, along with the National Democratic Institute, have an annual fellowship where we bring a young woman from a developing nation over to Washington, D.C., to learn about human rights and democracy, and so then they can go back to their own home countries and try to institute these rule-of-law programs. We brought over one woman last year from Iraq. It was really incredible. She was even able to spend Christmas with the Parhamovich family. And this year we have another candidate who came over from, I believe, Burma. So, you know, the war has been pretty tough on a lot of people. But you’ve got to just figure out a way to sort of take what happens and go forward and try to do the best you can.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Hastings, speaking to Democracy Now! in 2010. He died on Tuesday in Hollywood in a car crash at the age of 33. You can go to our website at democracynow.org to watch our archive of interviews with Michael Hastings.

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