Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The CIA Hacking Tools Memos Released By Wikileaks and the Death of Investigative Reporter Michael Hastings

By Robert Wenzel

Michael Hastings car
In 2013, investigative journalist Michael Hastings died in a mysterious car crash.

I reported extensively at the time on the crash and the suspicions that the car's driving system had been hacked to assassinate Hastings.

Assassination by car crash, if you will.

Hastings' reporting had brought down the career of General Stanley McChrystal and indications were that he was working on a story that would be a serious problem for the Deep State.

In the new batch of documents released on Tuesday by Wikileaks concerning CIA methods and plans for hacking and spying, one document, 2014-10-23 Branch Direction Meeting notes, is relevant to the Hastings' car crash. 

Most of the reporting to date on this memo has been inaccurate. The Mirror, for example, went with this headline: CIA planned to hack cars and trucks to carry out undetectable assassinations.

On social media, many speculated that the memo proves that the CIA couldn't have killed Hastings since the memo was dated October 10, 2014 and Hastings was killed more than a year earlier in June 2013. But this conclusion and The Mirror headline misrepresent the 2014  memo.

The memo does not suggest that the CIA was still looking for a way to hack into cars, rather the memo contains a broad-based list of  "Embedded Devices" that would be considered in a meeting "to determine future goals and directions" for the devices.

Thus, the memo does not specify on the list what embedded devices are complete and which, if any, are still in development stages---just that they would all be considered for discussion as to future applications. On the list: Vehicle Systems (e.g. VSEP).

Thus, the memo indicates at the time of the Hastings car crash, the CIA might, indeed, have had vehicle system embedded device capability.

The memo further reveals that the CIA has an "Embedded Branch Division" and that the memo listed the areas of embedded devices that were to be discussed (my highlights):

Firmware Targets
Internet of Things (e.g. Weeping Angel (Extending) Engineering Notes  )
Vehicle Systems (e.g. VSEP)
Network Devices (including but not limited to SOHO routers)
Software Targets
VxWorks - not addressed by any EDB work
QNX - not addressed by any EDB work, big player in VSEP
Note it appears that some CIA embedded device vehicle work is being done away from the Embedded Branch and at QNX which probably is a reference to the commercial Unix-like real-time operating system known by the QNX acronym.

According to Wikipedia,  QNX was one of the first commercially successful microkernel operating systems and is used in a variety of devices including cars and mobile phones.

By the way, it is not clear what the acronym VSEP stands for. However, in Automotive Accident Reconstruction: Practices and Principles, curiously enough, there is a formula with an equation identified as VSEP---for vehicle separation. 

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of and Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. The Robert Wenzel podcast is on  iphone and stitcher.


  1. The Aubrey McClendon car crash was suspicious as well.

  2. Trump will not denounce thus but he should. It would give him the excuse for by the purge that he needs if he is going to get out of this alive or not in prison.

  3. Hastings death never smelled right, good to see that Wikileaks is shedding more light on this.

  4. All paid for by our tax dollars - such a bargain!

    1. Well, really Federal Reserve inflation. Raising taxes to pay for empire might be the one peaceful way to quickly end it!

  5. Sooprize Sooprize! You've got secret organizations with a CHARTER to do evil, then give them unlimited resources, and then be surprised when bad things happen?

  6. If one buys a new car and is concerned about hacking, buy a car with a manual transmission with mechanical or hydraulic* clutch control, mechanically connected steering, and a cable operated parking/emergency brake.

    *where the pedal is mechanically connected to the master cylinder that controls the hydraulic system.

    VSEP must be something they came up with. An internal acronym. A search of SAE papers resulted in papers only applicable to the Vibratory shear-enhanced process. Papers on fluid flow and filtering. IEEE search yields nothing for it. If it was a common industry term for a vehicle control system it should be in one or both of those places.

  7. VSEP possibly means Vehicle Separation in the context of separation of the driver from control.

  8. I doubt VSEP stands for vehicle separation -- that's a fairly recent feature on automobiles. As best I can tell, it stands for "Variable reluctance sensor, Switch interface, EST, Pre-driver". It's some kind of chipset/OS interface that senses engine speed and controls various engine subsystems -- mostly to improve power and efficiency.

  9. QNX micro-kernals are also used in the later generation of Cisco router and switch operating systems. These are generally for use in high end network, high performance routers and switches used by phone companies, internet service providers and large corporate enterprise internal networks. Cisco probably has more than 50% of this niche market world wide.