- Date published:
7:03 am, April 4th, 2017 - 89 comments
Categories: accountability, afghanistan, bill english, military, war - Tags: andrew geddis, coverup, hit and run, International Criminal Court, nzdf
(Alas the title is not mine, take a bow Finlay MacDonald)
As widely predicted, Bill English has chosen to endorse what looks like an NZDF coverup with respect to Operation Burnham. His excuses are an insult to our intelligence:
There will be no inquiry into allegations about SAS raids after advice from the “independent” Chief of Defence Force and video footage backing that up, Prime Minister Bill English has announced.
Asked how Keating – a former commanding officer of the NZSAS – was in any way independent, English said Keating was not involved in the raids, dubbed Operation Burnham.
“The CDF is independent. He wasn’t involved in the operation. He has access to video of the actual operation itself, along with all the planning that went into it, the review afterwards by ISAF. We trust that process.
So the commander of the Defence Force is “independent” of it. Just like the All Blacks coach is “independent” of the team. And the PM is “independent” of the government. Please.
“There’s not any real contest over the facts other than the book…which has got them wrong…it looks to be in some cases a wildly inaccurate piece of journalism.”
Here English is trying to use one acknowledged error in the book (different map coordinates) as an excuse to ignore the whole thing. There are more errors and inconsistencies in the NZDF’s many versions of events (once again see Selwyn Manning’s rigorous analysis on Kiwipolitico). Furthermore the facts are supported by sources other than the book, e.g. the New York Times.
English’s excuses are also an insult to our integrity:
When asked about what happened to three-year-old Fatima who was one of the six civilians allegedly killed in the raid, Mr English says “You’d have to ask the authors of the book.”
Right from the bottom of the barrel.
For further summaries of English’s position, and also Hager’s response, see The Spinoff. Hager:
“But, most of all, Bill English has just ensured that the issue will continue to boil and fester. It is not going to go away until it is properly addressed.”
The only way of addressing the issue now is to take it out of English’s hands:
Afghan raids: Evidence of cover-up, lawyers say
A senior lawyer says there is credible evidence the New Zealand Defence Force covered up civilian deaths at the hands of the country’s elite soldiers.
Ms Manning, who previously represented Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui, said she, Mr Harrison and Mr McLeod would be representing the residents of the two raided villages.
Otago University Law Professor Andrew Geddis said if the government declined to launch the inquiry, the next step could be to head to the International Criminal Court. …
The question is why the Prime Minister listened solely to them. Shouldn’t he also have consulted Crown Law and MFAT, or indeed his own lawyer, before ruling anything out? After all, New Zealand is a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which permits investigation and prosecution of New Zealand troops and officials if our own government fails to do so. And by collaborating in NZDF’s coverup, English has effectively just made himself a party to the crime, and opened himself up to prosecution in The Hague…
I guess we’ll be hearing from the villagers’ lawyers one way or the other before too long.