The FBI released a heavily redacted document on former Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings, Monday, which revealed the law-enforcement agency is continuing to investigate what it characterized as “controversial reporting” by the journalist, who (was killed by an explosion which also blew the engine out of his mercedes-benz – not al-jazeera’s words) in Los Angeles in June.
The FBI turned over the three-page document to Al Jazeera and Ryan Shapiro, a doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specializes in FOIA research, in response to a joint-Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against the agency.
One of the excerpts in the FBI document is completely redacted and marked “S” (for “secret”) and “Per Army,” under an exemption aimed at protecting national security. Additional redactions were used to protect techniques and procedures for law-enforcement investigations and prosecutions.
In a declaration released with the records, Denny Argall, the FBI’S public liaison officer, wrote that after the agency searched for responsive records it located one “cross reference” file pertaining to a pending criminal investigation. The FBI would not comment further about the nature of the probe.
The papers revealed that the FBI still considers Hastings’ work highly sensitive; even the title of the case file has been withheld under a FOIA exemption that claims that the information, if disclosed, could interfere with an ongoing law-enforcement investigation.
The documents revealed that on June 11, 2012, the FBI’s Washington field office opened a file and submitted “unclassified media articles” to it in order “to memorialize controversial reporting by Rolling Stone magazine on June 7, 2012.”
The articles in question included a lengthy investigative report published under Hastings’ byline in Rolling Stone on June 7, 2012 — “America’s Last Prisoner of War” — about 27-year-old U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl’s deployment to the war in Afghanistan and his capture by the Taliban in June 2009. Bergdahl is believed to still be in the custody of the Taliban.
Three days after Hastings died, the FBI issued a rare public statement denying Hastings was under investigation. “At no time was Michael Hastings under investigation by the FBI,” bureau spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said on June 21.
The spokeswoman’s comments followed an email Hastings sent colleagues a day before he died that read: “The Feds are interviewing my close friends and associates.” But Hasting’s email was referring to the “NSA,” according to the subject line — not to his earlier reporting.
Still, the FBI appeared to have taken great interest in the article Hastings wrote about Bergdahl, whose name is redacted in the document the agency turned over to Al Jazeera and Shapiro.
– reposted from al jazeera