Today the FBI released a heavily redacted document about journalist Michael Hasting, who died in a single-car accident this past June. At the time, the FBI denied that Hastings was under any sort of investigation.
The documents reveal that, a year before Hasting’s death, the FBI wanted to “memorialize the controversial reporting” in Hasting’s June story about Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, “America’s Last Prisoner of War.” The document claims that the piece “ignited a media frenzy, speculating about the circumstances of [redacted] capture, and whether U.S. resources and effort should continue to be expended for his recovery.”
Leopold wrote that the title of file released to him “has been withheld under a FOIA exemption that claims that the information, if disclosed, could interfere with an ongoing law-enforcement investigation.” The FBI did not reveal what that investigation might be, though Leopold Tweeted that it was related to the subject of the story, which is about an American POW who has been held in Afghanistan since 2009.
Will Dana, managing editor of Rolling Stone, told Al Jazeera’s Jason Leopold that he is “concerned” about the FBI’s desire to “memorialize” Hasting’s article.
A letter accompanying the documents stated that “[a] search of the FBI Headquarters electronic surveillance indices has been conducted, and no responsive record which indicates that Michael Hastings has ever been the target of electronic surveillance was located.”
Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman, reiterated the Bureau’s original claim to Leopold, noting that “[b]eing referenced in an FBI file does not make one the subject of an FBI investigation.”