Steven Robert Esh (he later changed his name to Steve Kangas) was born on 11th May 1961. His parents were conservative Christians and he attended private religious academies in South Carolina.
After graduating from high school in 1979, Kangas joined the US Army. He was later transferred to military intelligence and spent a year in Monterey (Defense Language Institute) learning Russian. He also spent time at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas before being sent to do secret work in Central America.
In 1984 Kangas moved to Germany where he was involved in electronic eavesdropping on Soviet military units in Eastern Europe, analyzing the transcripts and reporting back to NATO. It was at this time he began to question his conservative political beliefs.
Kangas left military intelligence in 1986 and became a student at the University of California in Santa Cruz. This experience moved him further to the left: "There, kindly professors pointed out to me the illogic of defending life by taking it, destroying the planet for a buck, and shutting down schools to build more prisons. I am now thoroughly brainwashed to believe that kindness and human decency are positive traits to be emulated and encouraged."
Kangas ran the Liberalism Resurgent website. This included several articles on the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. One of his online essays, The Origins of the Overclass, attempted to show "why the richest 1 percent have exploded ahead since 1975, with the help of the New Right, Corporate America and, surprisingly, the CIA." In the essay, he argues that Richard Mellon Scaife ran "Forum World Features, a foreign news service used as a front to disseminate CIA propaganda around the world."
Scaife was very unhappy with the attack made on him and employed a private detective, Rex Armistead, to carry out an investigation into Kangas.
It is believed that Kangas was working on a book about CIA covert activities when on 8th February 1999, he was found dead in the bathroom of the offices of Richard Mellon Scaife, the owner of the Pittsburgh Tribune. He had been shot in the head. Officially he had committed suicide but some people believe he was murdered. In an article in Salon Magazine, (19th March 1999) Andrew Leonard asked: "Why did the police report say the gun wound was to the left of his head, while the autopsy reported a wound on the roof of his mouth? Why had the hard drive on his computer been erased shortly after his death? Why had Scaife assigned his No. 1 private detective, Rex Armistead, to look into Kangas' past?"