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NZDF credibility on the line

Written By: - Date published: 8:11 am, March 27th, 2017 - 80 comments
Categories: accountability, afghanistan - Tags: , , , , ,

There were several significant developments on Hit and Run and the NZDF over the weekend. The headline news is that the NZDF has accused Hager and Stephenson of being wrong on central facts, the authors have responded by restating their certainty. Both statements are up on Spinoff:

NZDF: ‘It is evident there are some major inaccuracies’

The central premise of Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson’s book, Hit and Run, is incorrect, says the Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating.

NZDF troops never operated in the two villages identified in the book as having been the scene of combat operations and civilian casualties.

Since the release of the book, the New Zealand Defence Force has spent considerable time reviewing the claims contained in it, despite the allegations of civilian casualties being the subject of a NATO investigation in 2010.

Upon review of Hit and Run, it is evident there are some major inaccuracies  —  the main one being the location and names of the villages where the authors claim civilians were killed and property was destroyed wilfully during a New Zealand-led operation.

The villages are named in the book as Naik and Khak Khuday Dad, but the NZDF can confirm that NZDF personnel have never operated in these villages.

The authors appear to have confused interviews, stories and anecdotes from locals with an operation conducted more than two kilometres to the south, known as Operation Burnham.

The villages in the Hager and Stephenson book and the settlement which was the site of Operation Burnham, called Tirgiran, are separated by mountainous and difficult terrain.

The NZDF has used the geographical references in the book and cross-referenced them with our own material.

During Operation Burnham, New Zealand was supported by coalition partners, which included air support capacity as previously reported.

The ISAF investigation determined that a gun sight malfunction on a coalition helicopter resulted in several rounds falling short, missing the intended target and instead striking two buildings.

This investigation concluded that this may have resulted in civilian casualties but no evidence of this was established.

Hit and Run does not prove civilian casualties were sustained in the village where Operation Burnham took place.

The NZDF reiterates its position that New Zealand personnel acted appropriately during this operation and were not involved in the deaths of civilians or any untoward destruction of property.

The NZDF welcomes anyone with information relevant to Operation Burnham to come forward and be assured that any allegations of offending by NZDF personnel would be taken seriously and investigated in accordance with our domestic and international legal obligations.

Hit and Run authors: ‘The NZDF response is bizarre’

Hit and Run co-authors Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson stand by the facts in their book. They say the NZDF response to the book issued on Sunday night is bizarre and a continuation of seven years of cover up. It seems, they said, to be nothing more than an attempt to squirt ink in the water.

“We are absolutely confident that an SAS raid took place on 22 August 2010 where six civilians were killed and another 15 injured. We know a dozen houses were destroyed as well. We have testimony about these events from members of the SAS, Afghan commandos and people living in the villages that were raided, Naik and Khak Khuday Dad. The SAS and villagers both talked about assaults on the same named people’s houses. It is actually impossible that the story is wrong.”

The NZDF press release is simply incorrect and implausible. To be true, it would require an identical raid by identical forces, using identical helicopters, on identical targets at the same time.

“We are shocked that the NZDF believes this is a legitimate reply to the serious and tragic revelations in the book. It looks like nothing more than people trying to evade responsibility and reinforces the need for a full and independent inquiry.”

Last time the NZDF questioned Stephenson on the facts it cost them thousands in damages. It doesn’t help the NZDF’s credibility this time round that they have changed their story, and claim to have “lost” a crucial report:

NZDF letter throws fresh spanner in works as PM Bill English considers inquiry into SAS actions

The NZ Defence Force says it does not have a copy of the key report on which it has based its denials the NZSAS killed civilians in a botched raid in Afghanistan.

And just days before the release of the book which made the claims, it also appears to have contradicted its official statement that “allegations of civilian casualties were unfounded”.

A letter from NZDF’s Chief of Star Commodore Ross Smith – responding to an Official Information Act request – has thrown a fresh spanner in the military’s works over the allegations made in the book Hit & Run.

The book claimed six civilians were killed – including two by the NZSAS – and 15 injured during a raid which NZDF claimed killed nine combatants and cost no innocent lives.

Even as NZDF maintained that no innocents were harmed, former defence ministers have shifted from saying there were no civilian casualties to saying New Zealand was not responsible for any deaths.

Smith’s letter to the Human Rights Foundation has now given a new version from NZDF with the statement: “The 2010 raid in Baghlan involved a suspected civilian casualty.”…

So to be clear, the NZDF has been denying civilian casualties that they already admitted a week before Hit and Run threw a spotlight back on the issue. That’s not a good look. Which version of the story is it that Bill English backs 100%?

Sounds like we need an inquiry doesn’t it:

The authors have called for an inquiry into the raids. That suggestion has been backed by three New Zealand human rights lawyers acting for the Afghan villagers, the Labour, Green, Māori, New Zealand First and United Future parties, academics and RSA resident BJ Clark, and a doctor who cared for the injured.

The NZDF say they are open to it – from the statement above:

The NZDF welcomes anyone with information relevant to Operation Burnham to come forward and be assured that any allegations of offending by NZDF personnel would be taken seriously and investigated in accordance with our domestic and international legal obligations.

Credit to them for that – maybe some version of their story will be proved right. So let’s get on with it, shall we?


Further Reading, David Fisher in The Herald today: Our faulty war: the report they fought to keep secret. Not directly related to Hit and Run, but about the broader context of the NZDF in Afghanistan.

80 comments on “NZDF credibility on the line ”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    I didn’t realise they’d managed to build up any credibility since 2008.

    • lprent 1.1

      John Drinnan @zigzagger2 pointed out in Twitter that the NZDF was where Kevin Taylor wound up doing PR.

      I thought that I had recognised the technique. Obstrufacate facts and go for “move along – nothing to see here”. I guess the rationale is that if worked for Key over Dirty Politics… however it did have a significant effect. Just not on his Teflon boss.

      I suspect that in this case they are hoping that it just does drown out if they drag it into the noise of the election. However i suspect that the readiness of the NZDF will be a election topic after Fishers article today.

      • veutoviper 1.1.1

        +1

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.2

        Dreams are free I suppose. They look like stereotypical imbecilic brass.

        If English keeps on buying their bullshit he’s going to get buried in it.

        • Anne 1.1.2.1

          A nice, succinct response from OAB
          Btw, the “stereotypical inbecilic brass” video is nor far from reality in my humble experience. 😀

        • Once etc 1.1.2.2

          It’s pretty frikken amazing isn’t it?
          I’m not sure they even realise they’re in a hole at the moment, but ‘stop digging’ would seem to me to be good advoice going forward.

          It kind of reminds me a bit of the criminal mind trying to talk their way out of a sticky situation – not realising the more they bullshit, the worse it gets.
          The more they bullshit, the more they forget the last piece of bullshit they told, the more the conflicting account, the more their credibility comes into question.
          It’s a bit pathetic really. Maybe it’s now human nature – sure as shit it ain’t mine – so maybe I’m the outlier. I suspect not though because we at least have a recognition of the bullshit empire – labelled by academics as the ‘post truth’ era.
          It’s a bit more ‘fektiv and fishint’ to just front up and tell the truth. It’s a fucking sight simpler, and the odds are that life will be easier for the Bullshitter In Charge (even IF they miss out on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List).
          I’m sure a properly resourced healthcare (including mental health) system might be able to teach them how to cope … going fowid, so-to-speak, ekshully.

          And as Bill English would say: ” Well!!!!!!!!!!! rhubarb, rhubarb, radish and ………. Well!!!!!, rhubarb, Rhubarb, radish and ……….Well!!!!!!!!! …….@ etc., etc., etc.,

      • Anne 1.1.3

        LJohn Drinnan @zigzagger2 pointed out in Twitter that the NZDF was where Kevin Taylor wound up doing PR.

        Ooh… Captain Panic Pants. Well, his pants will be full of panic now.

  2. Keith 2

    After years of controversy and denials why did it take until now for them to say there were two exact same operations taking place all within hearing distance of each other and in the scheme of things right next door to each other but neither were related.

    In any case the purpose of Operation Burnham was to find those responsible for killing a NZ serviceman and kill them. It was an NZ initiated operation, planned and led by the SAS borrowing US air support. The SAS were calling the shots in Operation Burnham, end of story.

    By doing what the NZ military have done in the last 24 hours is akin to throwing the US under the bus (or the Apache Helicopter) for this atrocity to save their own miserable skins. Nice to know who your friends are.

    But English is strutting about like the cat the ate the cream isn’t he? Funny if the liars of the National Party have been lied to by the liars of the military. Hager and Stephenson certainly has far more credibility than either National or the military on that one.

    • Anne 2.1

      … why did it take until now for them to say there were two exact same operations taking place all within hearing distance of each other and in the scheme of things right next door to each other but neither were related.

      And from the sounds of things it was the same people involved in each operation so how they managed to achieve that super-brilliant bit of manoeuvering is beyond my comprehension. (sarc for the benefit of the rwnjs)

  3. Ad 3

    I am gobsmacked that first Mapp and now the head of the NZDF are trying to defend in precisely such a way that makes the news story continue through multiple cycles and hence make an inquiry more likely.

    Whatever happened to the surefooted Key-Eagleson combination of old that could just smirk it off with a few jokes on ZB?

    • Carolyn_nth 3.1

      I suspect NZ’s military involvement in Afghanistan is a story not going away any time soon.

      Yesterday I saw Paula Penfold, Fairfax investigative journalist, talking at the public broadcasting public consultation event in Auckland (organised by Action Station and the Coalition for Better Boradcasting). Penfold said she and her team were working on an in-depth investigation of NZ’s involvement in Afghanistan. I think the plan is to make it into a video documentary. Penfold mentioned Hager and Stephenson’s Hit and Run book as a very good piece of investigative journalism.

      • Karen 3.1.1

        Ha! I saw a tweet from her when the Hager/Stephenson book came saying that it was line with something she was working on which would come out in a few months. Hopefully not too close to the election as I think this works against the left – people get confused and go with what they know.

        The Fisher piece in this morning’s Herald is a few more nails in the coffins of NZDF top brass and, Jonothan Coleman who is trying to say it’s no longer his portfolio so won’t comment.

  4. Anne 4

    As I said on Open Mike yesterday:

    The Defence Force will be in full damage mode. Nobody does “full damage mode” like the Defence Force…

    I spent 5 years on a Defence Force base and witnessed their MOU. The senior ranks in particular are so up themselves. Elitism is rife especially in the Air-force. But the other two arms may not be much better.

    Am off to the book-store to buy the book and add my voice to the rising chorus of disapproval. That’ll teach em. 😉

  5. Cinny 5

    I don’t see the Defence Force racing out to sue the authors. But I do see a massive amount of denial.

    If English does not call for an independent inquiry I believe it will cost him the election, if he hasn’t lost it already.

  6. xanthe 6

    The defense force seems to have a win all lose all approach here, their position if the allegations are correct (as i am sure they are) is now much worse than it was a few days ago.

  7. dukeofurl 7

    Confusion marketing 101
    Your teeth ‘whiter than white’ or ‘The ring of confidence’, you choose!

  8. Ovid 8

    Here’s the relationship between Tirgiran and Niyak on Google Earth. And this view shows the locations sitting between two tributaries of the Hari River.

    I couldn’t find Khak Khuday Dad and given the Niyak/Niak spelling difference, perhaps there is a different system of transliteration from Pashtu to English being used, The closest village to Niyak I could find is Dahan-e-Samadi.

    It is hill country. Obviously helicopters would be the best way to ferry troops around, but the locations aren’t far from each other.

    • Ross 9.1

      Watching that interview it was funny when Garner said that he, too, had been misled by the NZDF on several occasions. It seems the NZDF might have an aversion to the truth.

    • mary_a 9.2

      @ Anne (9) … many thanks for the link Anne. Jon Stephenson without doubt proved his credibility in his interview with Duncan Garner. However when Bill English came on, he looked decidedly uncomfortable.

      Not sure if it was just me or not, but my interpretation of his part in the interview, English was denying an inquiry was necessary, based solely on information given him by the NZDF? Has he made up his mind already? I do stand to be corrected here, if I have misinterpreted English’s statements.

      Have to say, given that interview, English seems to have aged somewhat in the past week, since the release of Hit & Run. Be interesting to see if he lasts the distance to the election now with this hanging over his head!

  9. silvertuatara 10

    It will be interesting to see what comes out of the NZDF’s tale of “two cities”, or villages as they have alleged.

    If it is proved in time that the NZDF has of this week further lied about operations apparently occurring on the same night just over the hill, then this move would be akin on their part to a chess player castling to protect their King.

    Depending upon which account is in time accepted as being the most credible by an independent inquiry, it could mean that if Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson’s account of events are determined and accepted to be correct, then it may not only be the NZDF’s King, but several of their Queens, to keep with a strategic chess analogy, leading right down to the “Rooks”, as in the reported SAS snipers, should they be proved to have had killed unarmed civilians, that need to be investigated for “war crimes”.

    I see Nicholas Jones has reported in the Herald this morning in his article
    No inquiry into alleged war crimes: PM
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11826084
    that, and I quote;

    “Prime Minister Bill English says there won’t be an inquiry into allegations New Zealand’s SAS was possibly involved in war crimes in Afghanistan – but won’t rule out an inquiry or investigation into other claims.

    English told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking this morning that an inquiry into any of the claims was “unlikely”, now the NZ Defence Force had told him its troops never operated in the two villages identified in the book Hit & Run.”

    It is no surprise that English went to Hoskings, who had already in his Mike’s Minute http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/on-air/mike-hosking-breakfast/video/mikes-minue-lets-put-hager-saga-to-rest/ spent two minutes and 32 seconds in his attempt to convince his audience, and what could be argued as comprising of a large portion of National’s core voters to, after 3 days of Nick Hager and John Stephenson releasing Hit and Run, for Mikes listeners to sweep the allegations in the book back under the Governments and NZDF’s carpet.

    In Hosking’s 2 1/2 minutes, not only does he get in a dig about labour, should the allegations in Hit and Run, be proven true, then he has provided his support for his audience to move on , because it happened in another country, and so long ago, suggesting the voices of the villagers, victims and there families, (should that be proved correct) are not worthy of having what could potentially be established as war crimes investigated by an independent inquiry.

    I quote some of the more relevant statements from Hoskings video clip on Newstalk ZB.

    “As we end the week where are we at with the Hager Saga, Hopefully finishing it up and putting it in it’s rightful case which comes under the broad category of done and dusted. Hager and his mate got their day in the sun this week, those of us who see it for what it is, got to work through the detail and we broadly conclude that the event in question

    a) has been covered before
    b) isn’t a war crime
    c) doesn’t need an inquiry
    d) was clearly a set of events that went badly wrong in a war zone but if we investigated every event that didn’t go to plan in a war zone wed’ve have more inquiries than we would have wars and we have far too many of those.

    And that really is the bigger picture that those who frothed and bubbled over this completely forgot this week. War is ugly, war by it’s very nature is a disaster, a series of disasters and desperate events that too many people die for all the wrong reasons.”

    ………

    With Hosking going on to say …..

    “The fact that New Zealand Troops six years ago may or may not have been part of broader raid involving American troops doesn’t stand out as anything more or less important than the 1,000’s of other missions that may or may not involve New Zealand troops in various theatres of conflict and many far flung parts of the world that we have participated in over the years.

    Those that get carried away got carried away at a singular event, in a singular conflict, in a singular country, 6 years ago. Those wanting an inquiry, want those inquiring to wander through villages in Afganistan and interviewing witnesses gathering evidence that may or may not be accurate that may or may not be able to be verified, have all that evidence cross checked and presented to God knows who to make lord knows what recommendation. It is needle and haystack stuff, with no certainty at all that anything will be found.”

    ………..
    Then after getting in a dig about labour wanting an inquiry on this matter Hosking goes on to say….

    “This looks like a very bad day for the SAS, but this is war, it is not worth a book, or an inquiry, and as we head to the weekend enough people with level heads seem to have come to that conclusion, and that is no bad thing.”

    Right then….perhaps we should just all move on…..I agree we should move on….move on and provide public support for the legal team that are representing the villagers and their families for the setting up of an independent inquiry into the allegations of the book Hit and Run.

    But just in case Mike Hosking has not convinced every single one of National’s core base that it is ok to move on, Barry Soper has chipped in this morning http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11825983 in his article Barry Soper: Leaders under pressure, referring to an “unnamed” source who apparently has more experience than most in Afganistan reporting and I quote;

    “Lawyers have now got their sticky beaks in on the act, saying they’re representing the families of those killed, and are calling for an inquiry. A source with more experience than most in Afghanistan said they should be treated with caution, given they’re dirt poor and they’ll have an eye on the money.”

    Well to Barry I say, following a failed flag referendum costing between 26 and 40 million, 300 million reportedly in having kept the NZDF in Afganistan for the past decade, and millions provided to a Saudi farmer, I am more than happy for the Crown to financially oversee a process of restorative justice through an independent inquiry, and making appropriate determinations as to the provision of compensation, be it financial or other wise…who knows…maybe NZ citizenship, and or refugee status are possible options, should the inquiry back up the contents of Jon Stephensons and Nick Hager’s Hit and Run book.

    I am hoping though, that the military sources used in Hit and Run, follow through with their honorable actions to date in bringing these issues up with Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson and continue to support the need for an inquiry into these matters by either speaking publicly, or through the the use of the Protected Disclosures Act, channelled through the Office of the Ombudsman.

    On a lighter note though, I have to wonder with Gerry Brownlee in Afganistan prior to the book release, as to whether any time during his stay he offered up 70 blankets, 70 muskets , 140 new pair of army boots, 4 sheep and 2 goats, in a proactive manner to quell the reported disharmony within the ranks of the SAS members of these reported allegations, should they prove to be determined as having happened.

    I am looking forward to media comments following Rodney Harrison QC, Deborah Manning and Richard McLeod submitting their requested terms of reference for an independent inquiry to the appropriate authorities.

    • katipo 10.1

      Marianne Elliott had an interesting interview on Q&A in the weekend on the subject …
      CORIN Do you think New Zealand’s reputation is genuinely at stake here?

      MARIANNE Absolutely. I think that we have an opportunity to put that right. I think that people are right when they say that these things happen in way – they do – and if you went back and looked at that UNAMA Protection of Civilians report, you would see there were there were 440 civilian casualties documented.
      CORIN But people also don’t like to think that New Zealand soldiers would be part of that, do they? I mean, there is a nationalist element to this.
      MARIANNE There is an element which surprised me when I came back from Afghanistan to discover that people in New Zealand seemed to think that we could be part of, you know, a military effort—
      CORIN Well, everything we’re told is that our SAS are highly trained, you know, honourable people. What reason have we got to not believe that?
      MARIANNE You can be a highly trained, honourable person and make an error of judgement. You can be a highly trained, honourable person and act on bad intelligence. You know, I think that the idea that you can be involved in a war like this and be utterly exempt from ever making errors of judgement or mistakes that have tragic outcomes is, you know—
      CORIN So you don’t see this as an attack on our troops?
      MARIANNE Not at all. I mean, in fact, I wrote a book that was about my experience of being involved in a situation where civilians were killed. I wrote about the very severe emotional impact that had on me and the importance of being able to work through that. Since that book was published, I have been repeatedly approached by New Zealanders who served in our military in Afghanistan who have said to me, ‘Thank you for your book. I related to your feelings. It helped me process some of them.’ And so I actually feel very strongly that our troops deserve this inquiry. It is not fair to ask the people who experienced this or who knew about it to lie. It doesn’t help them.

      http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1703/S00317/qa-actionstation-national-director-marianne-elliott.htm

      No matter what happened we need to do the right thing, and not sweep this under the carpet. NZ is better than that and we won’t be doing the victims, troops or our countries reputation any favours if we ignore it.

  10. Penny Bright 11

    PROTEST!

    “Not In Our Name!”

    WHERE:

    Defence Force New Zealand (Auckland Army Centre)

    204 Great North Rd, Arch Hill, Auckland

    WHEN: Monday 27 March 2017

    TIME: 3.30pm -5.30pm

    Whose interests are ‘OUR’ NZ SAS serving in Afghanistan?

    What did the people of Afghanistan (on the other side of the world) ever do to the people of New Zealand?

    Have we learned NOTHING from Gallipoli?

    Decent New Zealanders want an urgent inquiry into the actions of the SAS in Afghanistan on 22 August 2010, and the subsequent NZ Defence Force ‘cover up’.

    I for one, have had a total gutsful of the lies, the deceit and the ‘cover up’ that I believe goes to the highest levels of our New Zealand Government, and military.

    So – today 27 March 2017
    I’m ‘standing up to be counted’ – in protest!

    Who can come and join me?

    Penny Bright
    ‘Anti-privatisation / anti-corruption campaigner’.

  11. Anne 12

    S’all sorted folks!!

    Timothy (Defence chief cook and bottle washer, Keating) has just finished a news conference. I missed the actual presentation but caught the questions afterwards.

    He’s got it sussed. Hager and Stephenson must have been talking about some other engagement… not the one that the NZSAS soldiers were involved in. Yeah… it was the wrong place and wrong soldiers. Naughty Nicky and Jon making a silly mistake like that.

    You gotta laugh else you would cry.

    • exkiwiforces 12.1

      As I’ve said the whole things stinks to high heaven.

      If the NZDF are wrong then its bye- bye NZDF as we know it and possibly the end of the Group (1st NZSAS Group or whatever its called these days).

      If Nicky and co are wrong they are toast.

      This isn’t going to end pretty for either one ATM.

    • McFlock 12.2

      Yup. We was a couple of kilometres away, and those weren’t the civilians we killed – we might have killed some others, though…

      Glad that’s all cleared up.

    • Cinny 12.3

      Far out, as if anyone would believe Keating at the moment, dang.

      Here’s a video of the presser
      14k worth of views so far !

  12. Rightly or Wrongly 13

    The info released and declassified by the NZDF appears credible and accurate.

    The ball is now in Hagar’s court to prove that his book is correct or is he barking up the wrong tree.

    *Hint: Relying on testimony from a civilian population militarily, religiously, and culturally opposed to the NZDF may be somewhat risky.

    I would ask a question:

    How would Afghan civilians or militants be able to ID whether soldiers attacking them are from the US, UK, NZ, or any of the other countries associated with the Afghan invasion?

    • DoublePlusGood 13.1

      What of the New Zealand soldiers he got evidence from, then? What incentive do they have to be lying about this, given the massive personal risk?
      Far more incentive for NZDF to be full of shit than the soldiers that gave Hager and Stevenson evidence.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 13.1.1

        I wonder how the lying brass can look those guys in the eye.

        • Anne 13.1.1.1

          Easy. The culture of the armed services is so deeply etched inside their heads, they’re incapable of distinguishing between lies and the truth. I imagine those that can don’t hang around for very long in the service.

    • The ball is now in Hagar’s court to prove that his book is correct…

      Er, no. He and Stephenson (how come right-wingers all seem to think the book has one author? It was the same at Kiwiblog) have published allegations backed by evidence. The NZDF have denied the allegations. Unfortunately for the NZDF, the content of the allegations would be war crimes if true, so NZ has an obligation to investigate them. If we don’t, the ICC can and possibly would investigate for us, which would be extremely embarrassing, especially if it turned out the NZDF was lying about Stephenson again.

      • inspider 13.2.1

        there is zero chance, even if H&S are correct, that this is a war crime. civilian deaths
        in and of themselves are not a crime. There has to be intent to target civilians in the absence of a military reason for an action.

        • Psycho Milt 13.2.1.1

          I refer you to this post, by someone who knows the law better than either of us. The chance that NZDF committed war crimes in this incident is very much non-zero.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 13.2.1.1.1

            Having read Edgeler’s post I wonder why the Police have not simply launched an investigation already – the allegations are in the public domain, John Stevenson has stated that the troops involved are prepared to give evidence.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 13.3

      Here’s a question for you: why would you give an ounce of trust to the NZDF in this circumstance after the way they treated the Berrymans?

      Are you a gullible idiot or something?

      One other question, dupe: do you believe the story they were telling last week or the one they trotted out today?

      What is it about right wingers that they think everyone else should wallow in the gutter with them?

      • AB 13.3.1

        They reflexively support established power . Can’t help themselves because they are natural authoritarians. They believe in a fixed, hierarchial social and cultural order with people like themselves occupying the top tiers.

  13. Once etc 14

    AS the hours pass, the “NZDF Cred on the Line” seems more and more relevant.

    As are others, I’m 2 or 3 degrees away from some of these people – whether SIS or NZDF. As cuzzy bro once said to me (after a career in the army – peace keeping in the Sinai, Singapore, blokey antics, and all the shit), then in intelligence and SIS (where, to my knowledge wifey is still employed) …. “blood is thicker than water”.

    Indeed it has proven to be, whether it’s been no to go near Fiji with the passport in our rather unusual name after Frank’s coop; or to do with the dishonour of ex-military personnel given various gubbamint department CEO positions. (I figured he must have been right – one is now locked up, and his successor is riding on a similar wave)

    Tim fucking Keating eh?

    let it roll.
    I’m sure he feels he’s paid his dues, and the rest of us are just plebs – not entitled to question.
    I reckon it might benefit Tim to get past History 101, and get a student loan for further study

  14. ianmac 15

    Hope that Jon wasn’t “set up” to get him deep in and committed then the witnesses disappear. Revenge for embarrassing the Defence Force with a won Court Case. Conspiracy? Surely not.

  15. ianmac 16

    It is faintly possible that the Burnham attack got the wrong village? That would mean that they are both right.

    • Anne 16.1

      Judging by the whole performance as we currently know it, I think it is quite likely they attacked the wrong village. Faulty intelligence and all that.

      • ianmac 16.1.1

        Yes Anne. If the official Army version was wrong in that they landed in the village 2 km from Burnham, then this would further compound the Army credibility, But would they ever admit such a error? Not till Hell freezes eh?

  16. Cinny 17

    We really want to show you evidence, but it may endanger the lives of our soldiers, so we will keep it top secret.

    It took David Fisher 3 years to get some info…

    “It took almost three years to get the report out of NZDF after an initial request in January 2014.”

    “The military initially refused to release the information, saying it could compromise the safety of New Zealand and might also stifle NZDF officers offering frank views.”

    Oh lolololol what a surprise, like the Taliban are coming to NZ to hunt people down, i don’t think so. Such a classic excuse to cover up a situation.

    An independent inquiry would clear it all up and the only reason they would not do one, is because they have something to hide. I wonder whose story will change again tomorrow?

    • GregJ 17.1

      NZ’s Defence Forces and defence establishment are such a shambles there’s not even an Inspector-General for Defence (i.e. a body outside the NZDF Chain of Command – perhaps sitting in Justice but independent like an Ombudsman) to run even the semblance of an independent initial enquiry.

      There’s now so much contradiction and downright obfuscation that an independent enquiry is really necessary to clarify what went on.

  17. Xanthe 18

    Just watched the press conference, as much as i could stomach, he is lieing, this is classic obfustication. They simply would not do this if the alligations were false, nothing to do with the election eh nicky, well if they had fronted up it wouldnt be but it shure gonna be now.

    • RuralGuy 18.1

      I’m not so sure, I think the worm has turned.

      The seeds of doubt about the Hagar/Stevenson narrative have well and truly sprouted. They’ve got too much wrong to be credible or reliable anymore. There NZDF insider has left them high and dry and they’ve never set foot in country to investigate these claims.

      On the other hand. The CDF has returned home and immediately released sensitive information that (if correct) completely debunk H&R.

      From this point, 3 things will hold my interest;

      – will Hagar / Stevenson look to advance any defamation. Previously when NZDF have defamed Stevenson, he (rightfully) took action to clear his name. A precedence has been set, if he does not take the action then I smell a rat.

      – CDF has hung his balls and credibility on the line, Hagar and Stevenson need to follow suit. It’s put up or shut up time.

      – There’s need to be an inquiry. Moreover, then needs to be a winner and a loser. Either the CDF falls on his sword, or Hagar has just dished up another moment of truth.

      Either way, English has played this like a pro and has won this round convincingly by playing “wait and see” whilst the major players got organised. Labour and Greens have backed themselves into a corner by being far too strong to condemn our servicemen and back a couple of journalists who are starting to look like they have credibility and honesty issues.

      • Psycho Milt 18.1.1

        Where’s the bit in which Labour and the Greens “strongly condemned our servicemen?” Links or it didn’t happen.

        As for English, he comes across as someone who’s hoping it will all go away if he obfuscates long enough – not the kind of leadership we should actively seek out as voters.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 18.1.1.1

          Where’s the bit in which Labour and the Greens “strongly condemned our servicemen?”

          RuralGuy is just lying.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 18.1.2

        They’ve got too much wrong…

        Or, the NZDF, which has a track record of lying, has lied, again. Which of their versions do you believe?

  18. Ric 19

    It’s time for for pressure on the defense force to start releasing their evidence.
    This would include
    1. All the SAS operation plans and documents for the 22 August 2010 raid
    2. The SAS post-activity reports (which, we were told, refer to civilian deaths)
    3. The SAS Battle Damage Assessment from the 22 August 2010 operation recording who was killed and who killed them.
    as requested by Nicky and Jon in their article at
    http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2017/03/27/breaking-16-questions-nzdf-must-answer-over-war-crime-allegations/

    • inspider 19.1

      no, natural justice means the onus is on H&S to provide real proof of the theory they are proposing. They have admitted they don’t know for sure what went on (that’s why they have been calling for an enquiry to fill in their gaps), and now they have been told the whole narrative they have built up about the operation is wrong. The head of NZDF has basically put his career on the line on that.

      They have claimed catagorically to know the names and exact locations of people killed by NZers. It’s not NZDF’s role to prove them right. They chose not to put these claims to NZDF before publishing. Well now they need to back up with some pretty convincing evidence, of a higher standard than that required to convince the permanently aghast John Campbell. Time for H&S to front up with more than coincidence and anonymous sources.

      • Anne 19.1.1

        Read the book inspider?

        • inspider 19.1.1.1

          I have been but I haven’t finished it. My theory is they have two halves of two separate stories that seem to fit together a bit like jigsaw pieces. These pieces almost exactly match, and they’ve told that tale, but on close examination something does not quite fit.

          And I think that is what we found today. They have a fundamental fact wrong because they either didn’t want to know, were hoping to draw out the missing info, or just weren’t capable of noticing the lack of fit, and their whole theory is collapsing. But they are not going to admit it because they are so deeply invested in this whole narrative. However, as someone famous once said – “if the glove don’t fit, you cannot convict.”

          • Anne 19.1.1.1.1

            They have a fundamental fact wrong because they either didn’t want to know, were hoping to draw out the missing info,

            I agree. The defence brass need to go back and check their own report. You know the one they wouldn’t publicly release but David Fisher managed to get a copy of it and it appeared in today’s Herald. It came to the same conclusions as Hager and Stephenson. Funny that.

            You can check the link for yourself. Google NZ Herald.

      • Ric 19.1.2

        The authors have spent 2 years gathering evidence and writing their book. For obvious reasons they protect their sources. They have made this available to the public to critique. Why is stopping the defense force doing the same ?

        Natural justice would be best served by a full, independent and public inquiry headed by a judge. There’s been many accusations made by many people. A fully independent inquiry would go a long way towards answering any made unfairly.

        Inspider would you support bringing some of the villagers to NZ to be interviewed ?
        Jon has their phone no and the money for their airfares could be raised in minutes. They have already demonstrated that they are prepared to talk about “the names and exact locations of people killed “.

        Given the allegations of unnecessary death and injury, homes destroyed, human rights, the public’s right to know about the actions of our soldiers and more, a full inquiry would be a very good idea.

    • Ross 19.2

      The NZDF could also release details of the injured and what (if any) medical attention they were provided with by the NZDF. A highly professional outfit surely wouldn’t injure civilians and then just walk away leaving the injured to fend for themselves…

      • Anne 19.2.1

        A highly professional outfit surely wouldn’t injure civilians and then just walk away leaving the injured to fend for themselves…

        Well, they apparently did presumably because they appear to have convinced themselves that the civilians they injured or killed were insurgents.

        • Cinny 19.2.1.1

          Yesah, let’s label those killed as insurgents and change the village name, that’s how we can get away with it.

  19. Philj 20

    Is NZ at War, in Afghanistan? I presume NZDF could only be charged for War crimes if we are at war. I feel safer now! Lol

  20. Richard McGrath 21

    Such a front-foot refutation by the NZDF puts the credibility of Hager and Stephenson on the line also. Will be interesting to see how this plays out. Could potentially turn a bit pear shaped for our beloved investigative journalists.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 21.1

      Hager & Stephenson have a track record of accuracy, unlike the NZDF, which, like you, has a track record of telling lies.

    • Karen 21.2

      Look at the response fro Stephenson to the ‘wrong village’ claim. The NZDF have a history of lying – I know who I believe. Whatever you believe, there needs to be a high level independent inquiry.

      http://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/28-03-2017/hit-run-author-jon-stephenson-responds-to-wrong-village-riposte-from-nz-defence-force/#.WNkEEMvnIUA.twitter

      • One Anonymous Bloke 21.2.1

        It’s worth reading Graeme Edgeler’s opinion, linked at 13.2.1.1 by Psycho Milt.

        Edgeler makes a strong case that what is required is a Police investigation, for various reasons including the fact that an inquiry might prejudice any trial for crimes committed.

        • lprent 21.2.1.1

          It depends on what you are trying to achieve. Generally courts-martial are the best option for dealing with military infractions especially in foreign countries. It gets rather hard to see how the police can investigate. However given even what has been written in Hit and Run, it’d be damn hard to bring charges against any troops for their actions. Much of the first mission appears to be the result of piss-poor intelligence, the consequent terms of engagement, lack of integration between forces, and the usual confusion of night actions.

          But I’m somewhat more concerned about what it reveals about how our troops are operating / being used. That is a systematic issue that an inquiry should look at. Especially since it appears that the Army hasn’t been doing those kinds of reviews themselves.

    • lprent 21.3

      It is highly unlikely (and sounds like some rather pathetic wishful ‘thinking’).

      While you can argue with the interpretations of both journos (and I have), I haven’t actually found either to have ever been substantially deficient on facts in anything that I have read.

      As far as I am concerned, that means that the burden of responsibility for proving their claims will lie with the NZDF. Losing crucial review reports is hardly a good start.

      • Sacha 21.3.1

        NZDF have a history of lying to politicians spanning several governments now. Suppressing that broader Afghan campaign review report Fisher covered does not reflect well on them either.

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