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The NZDF will never clear its name – and neither will Bill English

Written By: - Date published: 7:03 am, April 3rd, 2017 - 154 comments
Categories: accountability, afghanistan, bill english, journalism, war - Tags: , , ,

It’s likely that some time this week Bill English will announce that there will be no inquiry into operation Burnham. That’s a pity, because it means that the NZDF will never clear its name. The odds of Hager and Stephenson being wrong on the substance of Hit and Run are low, and if they were wrong the NZDF would be in a hurry to prove it. They aren’t. Avoiding an inquiry is what you do when you have something to hide. (See this rigorously detailed piece by Selwyn Manning on Kiwipolitico for the many inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the NZDF’s various statements.)

How can the NZDF possibly “clear its name” if Hit and Run is correct? By fronting up to any mistakes that were made, by apologising and taking whatever action is possible to acknowledge and compensate the villagers. That would be the decent thing to do, and the force would be strengthened by it, not weakened.

In an excellent weekend piece Audrey Young makes many points that Bill English would do well to consider:

SAS inquiry would signal a new era of civilian scrutiny of NZDF

The Government will be missing a golden opportunity when, as is likely next week, it rules out an inquiry into the 2010 New Zealand Defence Force raid on two villages in Afghanistan.

It will be putting short-term political interests ahead of more important longer term interests, including its own.

An inquiry would almost certainly come down somewhere between potential “war crimes” as suggested by Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson in their book, Hit and Run, and that of “exemplary” behaviour by New Zealand forces as characterised by the Chief of Defence Force, Lt General Tim Keating. At the very least it would find some regrettable errors.

It is certainly in NZDF’s own interests to have an inquiry. Future NZDF operations rest on the confidence in which the New Zealand public has in them. That confidence is not unconditional and it has not been enhanced by either the accusations by the authors or Keating’s handling of them.

An inquiry which Defence welcomed and fully co-operated with could not lessen that confidence and could enhance it, if its mistakes are owned.

Public confidence in overseas deployments is not the only consideration but it is a vital one.

The public deserves to know what happened rather than be bystanders in the current public relations war over the book.

The Government and Defence believe that Hager and Stephenson’s error over the co-ordinates of the village location has completely undermined their claims.

It has not. Keating, after blasting the authors for getting the location wrong, got the right location of the raid but the name of the village wrong. Despite his insistence that two villages 2km away from the raid were Naik and Khak Khuday Dad, they were actually Beidak and Khakandy. Both the authors and Keating were wrong about something.

But actually what NZDF probably fears most is civilian scrutiny and the possibility that it could become normalised. And in that respect, the Government has ignored its own interests in denying an inquiry.

NZDF and the SAS in particular should be subject to more robust civilian and parliamentary scrutiny – perhaps even by the statutory intelligence and security committee. An inquiry into the raids would be a good start for a new era of scrutiny.

That’s a strong and important argument, and when Bill English ignores it and announces “no enquiry” he will have missed an important opportunity. Instead he will have forever tied himself to the perception of a shabby coverup.

Update: And there it is – no inquiry.



154 comments on “The NZDF will never clear its name – and neither will Bill English ”

  1. Cinny 1

    I’m expecting some serious questions to be raised in the house tomorrow.

    The outgoing PM should welcome an independent inquiry, his excuses do naught to clear up the situation. In fact all he is doing is creating a lack of trust within the voting public, a lack of trust towards the NZDF and the Government.

    It appears to me that Bill thinks he knows best and bugger the rest of them, a trait we see frequently in his peers, like Smith and Brownlee.
    The public do not like being treated like children.

    This could well be one of the issues that costs them the election.

    • Sam C 1.1

      I think most New Zealanders see Hager and Stephenson for what they really are – manipulative, self-indulgent ratbags.

      If the story was cross referenced, fact checked and it were “actually impossible” that anything Hager said was wrong, why have elements of the book been proven to be wrong at even a cursory level? And why have Hager and Stephenson gone to ground?

      [lprent: You are required to prove that last assertion. Making a false news assertion on this site isn’t something that we allow to pass when the moderators spot it.

      Banned for 3 months unless you can show that they have “gone to ground”. Bear in mind I know roughly what Stephenson is doing, and what Hager is likely to be doing and I can check exactly within a day. ]

      • dv 1.1.1

        That is a really strong argument for an independent inquiry Sam.
        If indeed Hager and Stephenson are what you say the NZDF needs the inquiry,

        • Rightly or wrongly

          Perhaps the enquiry should be into compulsory journalistic standards including a requirement for journalists to approach both sides of a story for comment befire publishing.

          What about a requirement that if publishing a story based on hearsay and unverified photos.

          And which are supllied by people belonging to a culture that is culturally and religiously opposed to us, they should not pretend that thesd same people are witnesses of high veracity.

          An enquiry into journalists – that is a great idwa.

          • Hanswurst

            “Both sides of the story” like SAS members and villagers? Oh, lookee there. They did. The idea that an official approach to the NZDF would constitute approaching another “side” is questionable at best. Stephenson and Hager found compelling evidence that something happened and published it. The idea that the facts might have been substantially altered by approaching the NZDF has been blown out of the wate rby the fact that the NZDF hasn’t provided any information that substantially challenges the account in the book.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.2

        They’ve “gone to ground” in your dreams have they?

        I suggest you read what Selwyn Manning has to say before embarrassing yourself any further. And then ask yourself why you’re so keen to deny the possibility that crimes were committed, or that the NZDF have continued their proven track record of lying, on this issue and others.

        • Sam C

          So, to be clear, are you refuting that Hager and Stephenson were wrong, OAB?

          The rest of your comment, as usual, is playing the man rather than the ball.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            To be clear, if you read the response I linked to, you’d know the answer to that question.

            You might have difficulty finding point 3, so here’s the summary.

            The SAS raid was about two kilometres from the position we gave in the book: CORRECT, BUT DOES NOT CHANGE THE STORY IN ANY SIGNIFICANT WAY

            There’s no chance you’ll read as far as point 7, so here it is:

            Lieutenant General Tim Keating told the press conference: “The ground force commander was an NZSAS Officer who controlled both the ground activities and provided clearance, after the appropriate criteria had been met, for any involvement of the aircraft. These elements were co-ordinated by an air controller in his location.” CORRECT AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION

            This statement contradicts earlier statements by the government (in 2014) where ministers suggested that if there had been any civilian deaths they were the responsibility of the US pilots, not the New Zealand SAS. It confirms what we said in the book: that the SAS commanders in charge of the raid have responsibility for deaths and injuries caused by the US attack helicopters, which they controlled and had requested to be part of the raid.

            Shall we go over some more examples of the NZDF changing its story, or perhaps you can remember what they did to the Berrymans.

            Turning potential war crimes into a political football. What a winner you are.

      • Psycho Milt 1.1.3

        Link please for your assertion that the authors claimed it was impossible for anything they said to be wrong. From memory, their “actually impossible” to be wrong statement related to the main claim of their book: that the SAS attacked these two villages and civilians were killed in the attack. You’re asserting they instead made a blanket claim of infallibility – prove it or shut up.

        • Pete George

          They have said they “stand by the facts in their book” and followed that up saying “It is actually impossible that the story is wrong.”

          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.”


          • Sam C

            Thanks Pete – beat me to it!

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            “The story” ≠ “the exact location of the villages in the story”.

            The NZDF have confirmed large parts of the story, and in doing so, have contradicted numerous previous statements they made.

            Choke on it Peter and Sam.

            • Pete George

              I don’t expect claims of the NZDF to be fully accurate. neither the claims of Hager and Stephenson.

              Why do you fully believe one side of a murky story and trash the other?

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                1. The NZDF’s unfortunate track record of lying, on this issue and others.
                2. The NZDF’s account confirms lots of details in the accounts of the SAS troops, villagers, and Afghan administration, as told to Stephenson & Hager.

                The fact that lying weasel scum like you are queuing up to throw words like “murky” around is of peripheral interest.

                • It didn’t take you long to fall back on personal abuse, did it. You don’t seem to be able to help yourself when your arguments don’t stand up to scrutiny.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    You’d have to scrutinise them to make that claim. Here they are again, scum:

                    1. The NZDF’s unfortunate track record of lying, on this issue and others.
                    2. The NZDF’s account confirms lots of details in the accounts of the SAS troops, villagers, and Afghan administration, as told to Stephenson & Hager.

          • Psycho Milt

            They have said they “stand by the facts in their book” and followed that up saying “It is actually impossible that the story is wrong.”

            In other words, no they haven’t said it’s impossible for anything they say to be wrong and Sam C is talking out his arse.

            Here’s what your linked story shows their actual claim to be:

            “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.”

            So, they’ve said it’s impossible the following is wrong:
            1. That the SAS attacked the villages Naik and Khak Khuday Dad on 22 August 2010;
            2. That the raid killed six civilians and injured 15.
            3. That the raid destroyed a dozen houses.

            I’m not aware that any of those claims have been proven wrong.

            • Pete George

              It depends on what interpretation you put on “the story”.

              “The SAS and villagers both talked about assaults on the same named people’s houses. It is actually impossible that the story is wrong.”

              Hearsay is not evidence. It is quite possible that people’s claims to journalists, and then interpreted and written about by the journalists, are not completely factual. They could be largely not factual for all most of us know.

              I’m not aware of evidence of 2. and 3. being 100% correct – are you?

              It also depends on what they mean by “They have said they “stand by the facts in their book”.

              That could imply that they don’t necessarily stand by their assertions and assumptions and hearsay?

              • I’m not aware of evidence of 2. and 3. being 100% correct – are you?

                How is that relevant? The claim is that elements of their story they claimed it impossible to be wrong are in fact wrong. Those three elements mentioned above are the relevant elements of their story – have any of them shown to be wrong? If not, Sam C is talking out his arse, and by extension, so are you.

                Whether the claims are correct or not is for an investigation to establish, not something to be decided by blog commenters or via assertions by the NZDF.

        • Pete George

          What Hager and Stephenson are really saying is that they think that it is impossible that any of their informants are wrong. That’s a fairly big call to make, given that there’s a possibility that some informants may have some connection to the opposing force, the Taliban.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            What Hager and Stephenson are saying is that the accounts SAS troops, villagers, and the Afghan administration have given them are consistent.

            Given that we know from multiple sources that SAS and Afghan commandos raided the homes of Maulawi Naimatullah and Abdullah Kalta, given their village is at Naik, and given that the accounts of what happened at Khak Khuday Dad and Naik are almost all consistent with the NZDF accounts, Nicky and I are confident that the villages the NZSAS raided were those two villages.

            Get your amygdala checked.

            • Pete George

              ‘The Afghan Administration’?

              Which SAS troops, specifically? Please back that up with details.

                • Sam C

                  That link doesn’t answer Pete’s valid question. Not in the slightest.

                • Thanks for the link. That refers to claims before all the questioning began. It states:

                  This book would not have been possible without the assistance of present and former New Zealand, Afghan and US military personnel, who spoke to the authors on the condition that their names and identities would not be revealed.

                  That doesn’t say they were informed by SAS troops, and it doesn’t say they were informed by anyone who took part in the raid.

                  There is no mention of SAS troops at all there.

                  Can you come up with anything actually relevant?

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    You asked two questions. The first about the Afghan administration. It is answered by the link. Can you come up with anything that indicates you actually read it?

                    The SAS sources have been mentioned in various news reports, including Matthew Hooton on NBR radio, and the initial press reports.

                    For example:

                    * The pair claim they have more than three dozen sources, including SAS members involved in the mission.

                    Do something about your monumental ignorance of this subject. Nah, you’ll just run your mouth some more.

                    Edit: yep, you’re back running your mouth.

                    • That’s a news summary that some unnamed person has done on Yahoo news.

                      You have changed your claim. Are you aware a ‘member’ may not be the same as a ‘troop’.

                      Where do Hager or Stephenson refer to “SAS members involved in the mission”?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      For yet another example.

                      Mr Hager said the book was based on information from unnamed sources – including SAS troops involved in the raid.

                    • That’s not a quote from Hager or Stephenson. You seem to be having trouble finding something to back up your assertion from them.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      I just found two, unless you’re running with the line that RNZ are somehow mistaken. You want to play some more stupid games about potential war crimes, be my guest, it will only advertise what a low-life you are.

            • Pete George

              I think this is the last Hager has said about the claims and counterclaims – http://pundit.co.nz/content/operation-burnham-the-cover-up-continues

              In that he says:

              However reports from SAS members and local people interviewed for the book describe multiple heavy attacks that wounded and killed civilians in different locations.

              ‘SAS members’ does not necessarily mean ‘SAS troops’ and it doesn’t claim to be informed by SAS trrops who took part in the attack.

              It has been said by people with a good knowledge of the SAS that is is very unlikely SAS troops would talk to journalists about operational matters. The have strong codes of military ethics and codes of silence.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                It has been said by people with a good knowledge of the SAS that is is [sic] very unlikely SAS troops would talk to journalists about operational matters.

                Back that assertion of fact up with relevant quotes and details, the way you’ve been demanding of others.

              • McFlock

                You’re welcome to back up your own assertions about “members vs troops” etc.

                But more interestingly, supposing that someone had heard concerning accounts of dead children from a botched raid, might that not bring their “strong codes of military ethics” into conflict with their “codes of silence”?

          • Tricldrown

            Patheticly Gormless argument.
            Your saying the SAS soldiers who are whistleblowing on our DF are lying.
            Yeah right Stephenson has caught out the NZDF before I see none of them are suing.
            DF sends out a lying Drone Blind Bill English.
            Bill English’s body language says it all.

      • Johan 1.1.4

        To Sam C,
        “wrong at even a cursory level?” At what point is the book incorrect Sam, or has the hierarchy of the NZDF been found-out editing transcripts? Civilians living in the area and SAS personel are all incorrect Sam or are you merely following your typical RWNJ line of thinking?

        • Sam C

          Read Keating’s statement from last week. Then St Nicky’s confirmation that he had been wrong, but it was irrelevant in the wider context. Except it isn’t really irrelevant. But hey, I’m just a RWNJ.

          • dv

            SO an inquiry will sort it out Sam.
            The reputation of the NZDF needs the inquiry don’t you think?

            • Pete George

              What will an inquiry actually sort out?

              The attacks happened in 2010. Will villagers be willing to provide testimony as opposed to making claims to journalists?

              It will be difficult to verify evidence from the area they occurred. The Afghan Government (who the SAS were supporting) and the US military may or may not share what evidence they may still have, if they still have it.

              The attacks happened at night so visual evidence may at best be mostly unclear.

              I think the most likely outcome will be uncertainty over a number of facts. That will mean Anthony can write another post raising doubts about the reputation of the NZDF, and Hager and Stephenson will be able to claim they weren’t proven wrong (except for some details).

              In the meantime large numbers of civilians are likely to be killed in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and elsewhere in ongoing conflicts.

              What will be gained by finding out that civilians were (possibly accidentally) killed on one raid involving the SAS seven years ago?

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                No-one expects you to understand the reason why SAS troops have come forward to give Stephenson this story. No-one expects you to grasp why Wayne Mapp is calling for an enquiry.

                Just stop worrying about it.

                • Which ‘SAS troops’ exactly?

                  David Fisher wrote:

                  It wasn’t just mislabelling one area as another – the authors circled and painstakingly named houses belong to those they said were victims, apparently from interviews.

                  It has raised the question since: ‘If they got the location of the villages wrong, what else should be questioned”?


                  Everything should be questioned – what Hager and Stephenson have claimed, what their informants have claimed, and what the NZDF claims.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Good to see you’ve contradicted your assertion that nothing can be gained from an inquiry. This conversation is done.

                    • I didn’t say an inquiry would be necessary or useful. There are other ways of asking questions – something you seem to give up on when questions are asked of you to support your assertions.

                    • Sam C

                      The conversation is done because you’ve painted yourself into a corner. Again.

                      [lprent: You certainly did. You picked up a 3 month ban for being a despicable cowardly liar. https://thestandard.org.nz/the-nzdf-will-never-clear-its-name-and-neither-will-bill-english/#comment-1316399 ]

                    • mickysavage

                      I dont get it Sam. You are preoccupied about the issue of the location of the killing and wounding of civilians but not worried about the said killing and wounding of those civilians. And you are not upset that the NZDF has said repeatedly that there were no civilian casualties but now seem to be saying that there were casualties.

                      Why is that?

                • Chuck

                  OAB you are spinning your self silly…

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Chuck you are a fucking moron with zero integrity. Put up or shut up.

              • lprent

                What will be gained by finding out that civilians were (possibly accidentally) killed on one raid involving the SAS seven years ago?

                That is how you learn from mistakes. In this particular case there are three things that worry me

                1. The intel appears to have been quite flawed, and an operation was planned and executed that was obviously a complete screwup because the intel was crap.

                2. To date I haven’t seen ANY evidence that the NZDF actually reviewed and learned the lessons from their deployment in Afghanistan. There was a review of this incident from ISAF that appears to have been lost on the NZDF side. So clearly it wasn’t regarded as being anything apart from face saving toilet paper. There was a review of the whole deployment that was trash canned on some basis that hasn’t been made public in detail. By the sound of it, some of the commanders who were deployed there didn’t like it.

                3. There is a distinct whiff of cover up and avoidance by the NZDF HQ. That is a bit terrifying when you consider that it appears that the NZDF staff appear to be far more interested in covering their arses than making sure that the same fuckups won’t happen next deployment. Having officers who appear to spend their time sticking their heads up their own arse rather than learning lessons form their mistakes is the best known way to kill your own soldiers.

                Basically you are quite wrong, and appear to have a simple minded approach to this.

                Incidentially, from reading the Hager/Stephenson book and what the NZDF has been saying, I don’t have too much concern about how our soldiers acted on the ground. I have some questions about how a house got set on fire and why they returned to destroy houses later. The rest sounds well within the mission params for a night action and what looks like a mission profile screwed by poor intel.

                I have quite a lot of questions about why we had the poor intel and why the HQ staff appear to have been covering their arse rather than learning lessons from the actions.

                • “That is how you learn from mistakes.”

                  Yes. And I think it is very likely the NZDF will have learnt from mistakes related to this attack, in handling the aftermath hopefully. And SAS will learn from every operation that they take part in. Mistakes are going to be made in wars and may well have been in this case, but it’s a bit late to learn much from it now.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    It’s never too late to stop lying to Ministers about it.

                  • lprent

                    You mean that the completely inept handling by the NZDF this last couple of weeks hasn’t been something that they should learn from?

                    But think of this. Stephenson has been looking at this issue for several years. That has been quite clear from his previous public articles. Each time the NZDF PR squad lied about it. Each time that completely pissed off some soldiers and and probably others who knew what happened. Each time he got more information.

                    The problem now isn’t the operation. It is that the officers and ministers have been deliberately and carefully lying to the public for no apparent reason. That lack of reason points directly to a high degree of personal corruption across a number of high ranking fools as the most likely reason.

                    …but it’s a bit late to learn much from it now.

                    Perhaps you should go and read about officer training. For some strange reason that might escape you in your usual thoughtless fashion, they spend a *lot* of time examining the mistakes of the past – all the way back to the greeks and romans. Officers are expected to do that kind of examination of past and current actions throughout their military life. This is to make sure that the mistakes (and fixes) are communicated throughout the force(s) so that the probability of error is reduced in the future.

                    What worries me with what I have read about this set of deployments is that it clearly hasn’t been something that they have NOT been doing.

                    Clearly if we can’t trust the NZDF HQ to do it themselves, then they need an outside stimulus from the people who pay them to do that task.

                  • Penny Bright

                    When did New Zealand ever declare WAR on Afghanistan?

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

          • Muttonbird

            But hey, I’m just a RWNJ.

            Only thing you’ve been right on so far.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.5

        why have elements of the book been proven to be wrong at even a cursory level?

        [Citation needed]

        Yes, I do realise that you’ve been banned but I’m pretty sure that other RWNJs have seen the distributed talking points that you’re basing your allegation upon and so should be able to answer it.

    • BM 1.2

      This could well be one of the issues that cost them the election.

      I really don’t think so, if anything he’s probably gained more votes by ignoring Hager.

      • left_forward 1.2.1

        Yes, of course – the ol’, three monkeys strategy – after all it seems to have worked before. The truth has always been unhelpful to the right.

        BTW, ignoring Stephenson might also be recommended… and perhaps all the other investigative journalists!

  2. Ethica 2

    This morning the police are praising themselves for having an inquiry into police coverups of sexual violence ten years ago. They say it made a huge change to their culture. It took a long time to get such an inquiry. So why isn’t the NZDF and the Government brave enough to have an inquiry in this case? What are they scared of?

    • Johan 2.1

      To Ethica,
      New Zealand has a lot of difficulties admitting to their screw-ups, whether it be the NZDF, CYFs and wrongful placement and abuse of children, Erebus disaster cover-up and final correct verdict, the Tangiwai railway disaster and the 100 year embargo by police of its findings, Pike River Coal, CTV building fuck-up…………………………………………………..
      Our gov’t needs to be able to subpoena individuals to force them to give evidence, admit wrong doings if any, seek reparations and then move on for the better.

    • Ad 2.2


      good cultural comparison between NZPolice and NZDF

  3. Incognito 3

    I’d say that “public confidence” is a ‘fickle beast’ at the best of times and generally more like an ‘old sleeping dog’. Has there been a proper poll on how concerned the general public is about the topics of the book?

    • Nothing that I’ve seen that has been published. There’s a good bet National will have tested public opinion though.

      I think that those claiming the reputation of the NZDF is on the line may be overestimating how much weight the public in general gives to Hager’s claims. Most people will know few if any details and apart from a basic perception are unlikely to think it’s a big deal, if they have thought about it before.

      Those with political interests trying to talk up doubts about the reputation of the NZDF may please the Taliban, but I doubt that many people care.

      I wonder what the Afghan Government thinks about it.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.1

        You piece of shit.

        Pretending that holding the NZDF to account is some partisan political game. What the fuck is wrong with you.

        • Mordecai

          No-one’s suggesting that. It is Hager and Stephenson who have made this political by publishing their claims in an election year (which is Hagers stock in trade of course). It is they who have made these claims, it is they who have to provide evidence. So far they have nothing but hearsay.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            …and shell casings, and photographs, and death certificates, and the NZDF slowly being forced to admit detail after detail.

            • Pete George

              Hager states:

              The illustration in the book shows objects collected by the villagers after the raid and the caption refers only to two drink bottles pictured, which the villagers thought were left by snipers. There was no suggestion that the weapon cartridges were from the SAS.


              There is no evidence that the drink bottles had anything to do with the SAS.
              People with a knowledge of how the SAS operates say that snipers would be very unlikely to leave rubbish behind.

              The shell casings could have come from anywhere – except from the SAS.

              It was easy to get the implication from the photo caption that the casings were associated with the SAS, Hager says that is wrong.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                The NZDF confirmed (after previously denying it) that the helicopters used in the raid were under SAS command, and indeed fired on people and houses.

                “The ground force commander was an NZSAS Officer who controlled both the ground activities and provided clearance, after the appropriate criteria had been met, for any involvement of the aircraft. These elements were co-ordinated by an air controller in his location.”

                Lieutenant General Tim Keating

                Yet another piece of your monumental ignorance cleared up.

            • Pete George

              The photo caption:

              Villagers found strange drink bottles at a lookout point on a ridge above the village. Islamuddin was shot as he inadvertently approached this position. This may have be have been one of the places where SAS snipers were located during the raid.

              That is nothing more than speculation and hearsay (‘inadvertently’ claim by Hager about someone who was apparently killed so cannot speak for themselves).

              No evidence that these items arranged for a photo some time later had any connection to the SAS, although that was implied.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                The evidence that Islamuddin was shot by ground troops is the nature of his wounds.

                The evidence that the SAS controlled helicopters fired on people and buildings has now been confirmed by Lieutenant General Tim Keating.

                You see, I’m not relying on the photo at all. Diversion fail 😆

                • “The evidence that Islamuddin “? It has been claimed, but what evidence?

                  There is no evidence “he inadvertently approached this position”.

                  Where is the evidence that the SAS controlled the helicopters that fired? They were US helicopters.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    See my comment at 9:52am.

                    Do I need to explain why the nature of his wounds is significant?

                    • McFlock

                      pg tips will only demand evidence that you measured their diameter yourself, and then demand confirmation that the ruler you used was correctly marked, and then when you provide certifications from the standards board that the ruler was fine he’ll argue that you should have used calipers for a precise measurement, etc etc etc.

                      Can’t argue against Cartesian Doubt.

            • Mordecai

              Shell casings from an apache helicopter that could have fired st anything. Stock photos of a child who wasn’t even there. Seriously are you so desperate that you are rendered so gullible?

              • McFlock

                well then, hager and stephenson would be easily pilloried in an official inquiry.

                Unless they’re right.

                • Mordecai

                  Why incur the cost of an enquiry in response to unproven allegations from an author with a strong political motive, published in an election year, containing already verified errors?
                  Besides, an enquiry that found against Hager would be called a whitewash by you, just as any chance of an enquiry has been written off by Rob.

                  • McFlock

                    “Verified errors”? lol

                    Because the only actual “verified errors” were using a computer mapping service that had labelled the wrong villages. Everything else is exceptionally plausible and seems consistent with the events, if not the outcomes, confirmed by NZDF.

                    There’s a solid chance that NZDF accidentally killed civilians and the hierarchy intentionally covered it up.

                    That’s why we need a fucking inquiry. If we can spend $26mil on a flag referendum or two, we can spend more than that finding out what was done under its auspices.

                    • Mordecai

                      Stephenson has spent years on this, and they got one of the most fundamental details wrong. Then they used a stock image for the front cover that depicted an unconnected scene. Hager and Stephenson have contradicted each other about the existence or otherwise of a village named Tirgiran. It goes on and on, and there will be more.
                      But the worst is this: Hager and a Stephenson have claimed the SAS mission was motivated by revenge, a despicable claim that is not backed by any evidence whatsoever.
                      This is a book of fiction, unworthy of any further consideration, and the public have already switched off.

                    • lprent []

                      So we need a inquiry to determine where they were wrong and to clear this all up.

                      Glad you agree with eveyone else

                    • McFlock

                      Whatever, fucko. You can bitch about one map and stockphoto-gate all you want. The ICC can sort it out.

                  • lprent

                    Besides, an enquiry that found against Hager would be called a whitewash by you, just as any chance of an enquiry has been written off by Rob.

                    You shouldn’t judge everyone using the low standards you use on yourself. Most people have higher and way less blinded viewpoints.

                    The trick to convincing intelligent people is if the inquiry is perceived to be transparent by the people interested in it long enough to read the reports and to follow the evidence. Of course unlike virtually all of the idiot’s like you who haven’t read Hit and Run and then comment on it, they will actually read the source material. This is almost a defining factor between idiot trolls and humans.

                    And r0b is making a estimation of Bill’s political timidity. Probably accurate.

                  • Hanswurst

                    Why incur the cost of an enquiry in response to unproven allegations […]?

                    Because the enquiry that people are suggesting is precisely in order to prove (or otherwise) those allegations. If they were proven, then that particular enquiry would be unnecessary.

                    • Mordecai

                      So anyone can make unsubstantiated allegations about anything and you’d support an enquiry? Here’s a thought.,,let Hager put up some evidence, instead of innuendo and hearsay. When he does, then there will be grounds for an enquiry.

                    • Hanswurst []

                      let Hager put up some evidence, instead of innuendo and hearsay […]

                      He has. In fact, there’s no point in continuing a discussion on the basis of a conment which, whether due to idiocy or design, displays a complete ignorance of what “innuendo”, “hearsay” and “evidence” even mean.

                    • Mordecai

                      No, he hasn’t. And English has thrown down the gauntlet. Put up evidence, which the NZDF has a statutory obligation to investigate, or go forth and multiply.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      @Mordecai: Hanswurst is right. Your pissy little hatred of Hager blinds you to the fact that it is Wayne Mapp and SAS troops who were on the scene, among others, who have provided the evidence.

                      Hager’s role in this is more like that of an editor, responsible for turning Stephenson’s reporting of the evidence into book format.

                    • Mordecai

                      ” it is Wayne Mapp and SAS troops who were on the scene, among others, who have provided The evidence”

                      What evidence? Wayne Mapp hasn’t produced any evidence. Who are these SAS troops? Let Hager produce the evidence to the NZDF. Every day that goes by until they do is a day their silence writes them off as opportunists in disgrace.

                      [lprent: Banned for 3 months for making a deliberate lying assertion which is quite defamatory. To my knowledge, Hagar has been doing interviews and statements. I suspect that Stephenson is probably working somewhere in the world.

                      But I really don’t like arseholes who try to make up crap and try to make it faux news. They don’t get to do it often here because their commenting is interspersed with long bans so they have time to read our policy. ]

                    • Mordecai

                      Hager may well be doing interviews, but I’m talking about EVIDENCE. There is nothing defamatory in asking for evidence. I suspect you’ve taken exception to my catching you out on the other thread. Loser.

        • Johan

          Obviously morality and ethics is not part of Pete George’s thinking. Wrongful killings according to this RWNJ can easily be justified and swept under the carpet, if it happened far away, years have gone by, and if the incident benefits our enemies. Where have I heard this BS before?

  4. Keith 4

    Today the media are reflecting on the police culture that existed and the progress being made in the past decade by that organisation. But what if they had taken the unbelievably arrogant stance of the military hierarchy and just gone into denial, cover up and whitewash. And what if the government of the day supported such stupidity as well? Their reputation would be destroyed. I am guessing this is what these Generals cannot and will not see. They have forgotten who they serve. They think it is themselves.

    English is a fool if he thinks this is one of the list of growing holes in the dyke National can plug up with a diversion or wait for the media to grow bored. It has lawyers involved who will not forget, it has our international reputation on the line and eyes from overseas watching. This is not just another Saudi sheep bribe, Oravida/Sky City deal or tax haven cover up.

    I cannot help but wonder if the reluctance by National based on saving their own skin also hinges on the fact this book and these revelations have Nicky Hager’s name attached.

  5. Ant 5

    An independent enquiry could prove the accuracy of the book’s basic tenets. Memories are not that short and the voting public will be prompted in turn to afford “Dirty Politics” greater legitimacy. Together with “Hit and Run” this double blow would make serious inroads into confidence in the government. By waving “Hit and Run” away you also keep “Dirty Politics” at bay.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1


      The last thing this should be is a political football. The NZDF has already acted politically in lying so many times and apparently lying to Ministers.

      All parties, political or not, and especially the casualties and troops involved, deserve better from us.

  6. The Manning and Young essays cited are two very important follow ups to the original story and the NZDF response to it. The first dissects that response and finds some glaring discrepancies in the NZDF account of events–glaring to the point of involving sins of commission and omission on key points that form the core of the NZDF rebuttal.

    The Young piece is extraordinary because she has pointed out that civilian control and oversight of the military in NZ is woefully lacking. Since such control and oversight lies at the foundation of civil-military relations in liberal democracies, this means that the NZDF has been operating with a degree of unchecked autonomy unseen in mature democratic states. This may be due to a mix of colonial legacy (where the NZ military answered to the Queen, not the government), political elite ignorance of military affairs and public disinterest in them, but whatever the reasons it is remarkable, in a bad way, how little accountability the NZDF has to its erstwhile political supervisors and the public that pays their salaries and buys the NZDF its equipment. Wrapping itself in notions of “sacrifice” and patriotism is no substitute for the NZDF being held accountable by the public it ostensibly serves and the politicians who are charged by the electorate with overseeing it.

    I was involved in a Transparency International exercise two years ago where I flagged some of these issues as part of the review of the NZDF and intelligence services. The final published report saw my low scores on a number of questions about accountability etc. averaged out to “very good” and “excellent.” I knew then that either there were not enough neutral observers looking at the NZDF and intelligence community or that the exercise was just a whitewash using TI as a prop.

    I am a bit surprised that Mr. George is running such determined interference for the NZDF/National. From his comments it seems clear that he has uncritically swallowed the NZDF line. Given that he likes to opine in public forums it might be wise for him to read the two essays mentioned in the post before commenting further.

    There is an old maxim that states that “in war the military controls the narrative.” But what makes democratic civil-military relations different from authoritarian civil-military relations is in part the willingness and ability of independent media and political authorities to conduct impartial reviews of military conduct on and off the battlefield. That prevents the military from circling its wagons in order to protect its own when bad things happen by accident or design, which in turn promotes more transparency and internal notions of responsibility to the public interest within it.

    Unless an inquiry into the claims made in “Hit and Run” is launched, then we are left with only one description for the bottom line when it comes to NZDF being held responsible for its actions: it is grounded in a culture of impunity rather than accountability. And that, I hate to say, is inimical to democratic governance.

    • Muttonbird 6.1

      Often wondered about the mechanics of measuring the TI scores and how NZ has maintained a high position despite significant erosion of proper democratic function and the introduction of a sort of pragmatic democracy.

      ‘Not enough neutral observers’ and ‘whitewash’ are two concepts which make a lot of sense.

    • lprent 6.2

      Elegantly put. That is the next tier out from the need of the NZDF to improve itself. For the polity here to learn how to control the military both closely and at arms length.

    • “I am a bit surprised that Mr. George is running such determined interference for the NZDF/National. From his comments it seems clear that he has uncritically swallowed the NZDF line. ”

      Given you like to opine in public perhaps you should look a bit more before firing.

      I have by no means “uncritically swallowed the NZDF line”. Unlike some here though I also won’t uncritically swallow Hager’s and Stephenson’s lines. Do you think everything they and some here claim should go unchallenged?

      I’m on record as saying I think we should have an inquiry, but I happen to seriously question what it will achieve.

      • Muttonbird 6.3.1

        But that’s all you do. Question what calls for action will achieve.

        Recently should encouraged the Pike River families to forget their boys and give up. You advised then to let the mine be permanently sealed because you questioned what their protest action was even about let alone what it might achieve.

        Zero empathy.

        • Pete George

          That’s diverting, but I do have empathy for families of those killed in Pike River (one of whom was an ex flatmate of mine), including those families who want bodies left undisturbed in the mine. Do you have any empathy with them?

          • Muttonbird

            That’s not diverting. That’s commenting on the drive of your argument which is to do nothing when quite plainly it will; namely to provide clarity, and reassurance for the public.

            I referenced you using the same method when arguing for the Pike River families to step down after one elderly family member of the 29 victims found memories of the incident distressing.

            I don’t believe you have empathy for others and I base that on your pettifogging posts.

      • Anne 6.3.2

        Given you like to opine in public perhaps you should look a bit more before firing.

        Projection my friend… projection.

        It is you who needs to “look a bit more before firing”.

        You can start off my reading the book Hit &Run from cover to cover and follow that by reading the excellent critiques mentioned. A look at Paul Buchanan’s most recent posts at Kiwipolitico won’t go amiss.

        Having done that, you might start becoming less impressed with the ruminations of the shoulder padded, shiny buttoned military apologist, and more impressed with the excellent commentary by the aforementioned experts. What’s more you will be far better informed than you seem to be at the moment.

        • Pete George

          I’ve read every response from Hager and Stephenson, also what the NZDF has said, David Fisher and Toby Manhire have given it good media coverage, and comment from many others including here and from Buchanan. I’ve also read a lot of debates looking at many sides and aspects of the issue. So you’ve fired a fizzer too.

          • Anne

            But you haven’t read the book!

          • left_forward

            Kinda avoided the question as to whether you have read Hit & Run, didn’t you pg? Given your obsessive opining on this thread, I would have thought that that was a given.

            I’m on record as saying I think we should have an inquiry, but I happen to seriously question what it will achieve

            Where / when did you say that? How would anyone have guessed that you actually agreed with the other contributors?

          • Brigid

            “So you’ve fired a fizzer too.”

            Not so much.
            Read this:
            You can start off by reading the book Hit &Run from cover to cover.

            • Pete George

              I don’t see any point in buying it, nor in reading it. All the key information seems to have been covered by Hager, Stephenson and media.

              Hager seems to concede it isn’t enough on it’s own, that’s why he’s demanding an inquiry. If it had irrefutable evidence it would stand on it’s own, not even he and Stephenson go as far as claiming that.

              “The allegations that the defence force has avoided or answered inadequately to date are:”

              “If we are correct that bad things are being covered up, we cannot expect the people at the heart of the cover up to provide impartial information. Once again, this means that the only acceptable option is a full and independent inquiry.”

              “Most of the information needed to confirm whether or not the allegations in the book are correct is located here in New Zealand, in the SAS files. ”


              Hager wants an inquiry to get information revealed (that he doesn’t have) to prove what he calls “allegations”. His book doesn’t prove much and he seems to know it. He has tried to generate public pressure to get the evidence he wants. if it exists.

              • Brigid

                So you “don’t see any point in buying it, nor in reading it. ”
                But you declare “His book doesn’t prove much…..”

                One or other statements is false.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                …and that explains why Wayne Mapp agreed to be interviewed by John Stephenson 🙄

                What a twisted little mind Petty George has,

              • left_forward

                Perhaps a point for you to buy & read, hit & run, is that it will improve the outside chance of there being substance between your conjecture and assertions.

              • “I don’t see any point in buying it, nor in reading it.”

                Pete doesn’t see any point in reading “Hit & Run”.

                And yet, this outpouring of opinion, about the book, from Pete.

                Staggering disconnect there, No Point Pete!

              • Penny Bright

                In my view, Pete George, you have undermined your credibility by not reading for yourself ‘Hit and Run’.

              • Keith

                So since you have failed to read the book why are you even commenting on a subject you know nothing about?

                Do you just read the headlines and take in the quips from Mike Hosking as detail?

                • Not reading the book doesn’t mean I know nothing about the topic, there has been a heap said about it including the key contents published. ‘Hit & Run’ is far from comprehensive.

                  I’n sure not everyone commenting on it has read the whole book, plus everything else that has been published about it since 2010.

                  Hager and Stephenson down’t know anywhere all there is to know about it and admit that – that’s why they are trying to get an inquiry.

                  I bet not everyone commenting here has read the entire book. That doesn’t stop them (nor should it) from commenting, it would be ridiculous if it did.

                  I’m also fairly sure that people commenting on things here have read the entire policy, or the entire bill, or the entire legislation related to the topic being discussed on.

                  I’m sure people here joining the wee mass attack on me haven’t read everything I’ve written on the topic, but that hasn’t stopped them acting like arrogant know-it-alls – who resort to personal attack.

                  • McFlock

                    Except you’re making claims about what evidence has and has not been presented:

                    There is no evidence “he inadvertently approached this position”.

                    And asking for specifics that, for all you know, are in the book:

                    Which SAS troops, specifically? Please back that up with details.

                    If you want to parse their work to that level of detail (identifying specific individuals or grounds for their anonymity), then yeah, you should read the fucking book first, jerkoff.

                    • All the experts who have read the book haven’t been able to substantiate either of those points. If all that’s left is a lame “you haven’t read the book” then I presume those points can’t be substantiated from the book.

                      I’ve quoted from what is in the book, and what Hager has said in press releases and posts that I have read.

                    • When you’re arguing about the contents of a book, the fact that you haven’t read the book is anything but “lame,” it is instead “highly relevant.”

                    • McFlock

                      How do you know you’ve quoted from what was in the book? How do you know that everything relevant to your bullshit was in the book? Oh, “experts”? Let me guess: NZDF “experts”?

                      You can say what you want about Hager, but Stephenson is an expert in this area. He’s been on the ground in various dangerous places for years if not decades. He’s seen and documented shit that would make you puke at the thought. And you’re not the first establishment shill who’s said his word can’t be trusted, and you won’t be the last to be shown up when his reporting turns out to be verified and independently confirmed beyond dispute.

                    • Not when I’m pointing out that people who have implied they may have read the book can’t substantiate basic aspects of it.

                    • McFlock

                      That’s your interest in whether the NZDF is covering up possible war crimes, is it?

                      You’re quite the hero of truth and accountability /sarc

      • DoublePlusGood 6.3.3

        This post from you is inconsistent with your swag of comments above.

        • Draco T Bastard

          pg tips is consistently inconsistent and he’s got moving goal posts down to a fine art.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.3.4

        Unlike some here though I also won’t uncritically swallow Hager’s and Stephenson’s lines.

        If they just uncritically swallowed the lines then they wouldn’t be calling for an inquiry but for heads to roll.

        An inquiry would be the biggest challenge to what Hager and Stephenson said.

        I’m on record as saying I think we should have an inquiry, but I happen to seriously question what it will achieve.

        It will achieve many things:

        1. It will hold the military to account
        2. It will highlight what went wrong and what went right and thus suggest better processes
        3. It will hold the government to account which is supposed to be in control of the military.

        You questioning what it will achieve is simply you trying to justify not having one because you’re seemingly fearful of the outcome of such an inquiry – just like every other RWNJ.

    • Penny Bright 6.4

      Paul – in my view – a key question that needs to be asked, is who initiated the NZ SAS taking on a combat role in Afghanistan?

      The NZ Defence Force – or NZ Government?

      • Good question Penny. I think that the NZSAS always was tasked with three roles: train the CRU, provide force protection to VIPs and the PRT when needed, and to conduct long range patrols to collect intelligence and attack targets when required. The spin on “non-combat” was a joint MoD/NZDF effort, which they could always say was the victim of mission creep due to extenuating circumstances.

  7. ianmac 7

    A funny satire with gems of truth. Has it been aired here yet?
    “The elephant in Room 903
    by Steven Price

    “Prime Minister, there is a report that an elephant has escaped from the zoo and is sitting in your office,” said the Prime Minister’s first advisor.
    “That’s terrible!” said the Prime Minister. “Voters will not like it at all.”

    “We have denied it, of course”, said the second advisor.

    “That’s a relief,” said the Prime Minister. “So there is no elephant?”……

  8. Penny Bright 8

    The International LAW covering Operation Burnham, and subsequent actions by ‘OUR’ NZ SAS:

    The 4th Geneva Convention – Article 33.

    (Thanks to Paul Buchanan for the ‘heads up’ on this point.)


    ARTICLE 33 [ Link ]

    No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.

    Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.

    Pillage is prohibited.

    Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.

    So, surely what needs to happen, is for a full, thorough and independent Inquiry to first establish the FACTS, the next step would be possible ‘war crimes’ prosecutions, if the FACTS proved that any of the above-mentioned components of Article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention were arguably violated?

  9. joe90 9


    There will not be an inquiry into allegations an SAS raid in Afghanistan led to civilian deaths.

    Prime Minister Bill English revealed that decision at his regular post-Cabinet press conference this afternoon, saying there was no basis for an inquiry.

    More to come.


    • Cinny 9.1

      Unreals, so angry. Who runs this country? The bloody NZDF, they are the ones who advised the outgoing PM not to have themselves investigated.

      No balls Bill, what a freaking coward.

    • Well, presumably the victims’ lawyers will now ask the ICC to investigate it, because the NZ government has refused, and Bill might end up wishing he’d just set up his own investigation while he had the chance.

    • Something tells me that this is not the end of the matter. A state’s refusal to investigate allegations of serious crimes committed by its own forces is the first step in pushing the inquiry up to the ICC. And given who the lawyers are representing the surviving villagers, the government would do well to reflect on the last time a NZ government tangled with them on a matter of ethics and principle where the official narrative was found to be specious when not dishonest : the Zaoui affair. Woe the Crown lawyer who will have to defend the NZDF case in The Hague.

      • Anne 9.3.1

        Was my immediate reaction too. These ultra conservative authoritarian types in National and the upper echelons of the Defence Force just can’t see beyond the end of their noses. More fool them.

        And spot on adam @10. It’s a totally political decision, and they will ultimately live to rue the day.

  10. adam 10

    These seems to me to be the “bugger the soldiers” approach.

    It’s like the interests of our fighting men and women has been thrown under the bus to score political points.

    No clearing of names, no truth, just swept under the carpet to undermine the confidence and elan of our fight force.

    Well done Bill – who cares about truth in a post-truth world.

    I’m guessing I can now say you won’t have an inquiry because the head of the defense forces came around, then gave you a blow job, and that settled the issue. Because as it stands that is the truth for me.

    The brass blows our PM’s dick, to keep him from looking into their shit handling, of a shitty war.

  11. Greg 11

    Is there any chance the icc could take an Intrest bill Englishness denialism it is one thing in a small banana state like New Zealand but facts put before a international court where the right wing nut jobs can not pebble there distorted view of the world is another.i can only take the natz total denilism as zinduction of hager and steptsion and the fear the natz have that war crimes have been comited something that is inconvenient to a natz

  12. Penny Bright 12

    So the NZ Defence Force get to ‘investigate’ themselves?

    VERY ‘independent’.


    Seems that ‘OUR’ NZ Defence Force is fiercely independent of ‘OUR’ NZ Government?

    Where’s the ‘civilian control’ of our NZ Defence Force?

    Seems they are a law unto themselves?

    What sort of ‘democracy’ is this corrupt, polluted tax haven, otherwise known as New Zealand?

    One door closes – another door opens ……

  13. Tony Veitch (not the partner-bashing 3rd rate broadcaster 13

    English is a gutless prick – but this mustn’t be the end of it all – we owe the innocent villagers in Afghanistan more than this brush-off.

    We need to encourage the three lawyers to take this to the ICC. Perhaps even set up a crowd-funding web site – I’d be more than happy to contribute – more, I’d feel honour bound to contribute!

    • Anne 13.1

      …more, I’d feel honour bound to contribute!

      Me too!

    • Carolyn_nth 13.2

      English’s primary concern is to discredit Hager. Any considerations of damage to civilians and/or their property comes way behind that.

      • Anne 13.2.1

        Bill English: vitriolic, vindictive, venomous, venal, vengeful.

        Did I leave one out?

        And to think I never described John Key in such harsh terms. 👿

      • Chuck 13.2.2

        English does not need to discredit Hager…Hager does that by himself.

  14. exkiwiforces 14

    This is what I said on 30th March 2017 at 12:50am

    “I personally don’t think there will be independent inquiry as there is too many fingers in the pie regardless who’s in government, but I could be wrong.”

    And i’m not holding my breath either after this year election when the Labour coalition gets elected are as they will have important things to worry about and it will be a case of pollies look after pollies because “there is too many fingers in the pie”.

    Today I’ve seen some excellent comments from Mr Buchanan, Lrpent , Mcflock ,Anne Cinny and Psycho Milt just to name a few. BTW that’s does not include Mr George they were some of the worst comments I’ve seen on this subject since it started. Someone please buy this clown a shovel or a ditch digger.

    As Adam said “It’s like the interests of our fighting men and women has been thrown under the bus to score political points”. Too bloody right Adam, the poor sods have been thrown under the bus.

    But where do we go from here that’s the next question?

    PS, I might be offline for a while and no the goon’s haven’t come after me. Just got health issues from work to due to deal with.

    • Anne 14.1

      But where do we go from here that’s the next question?

      Off to the International Court of Justice in The Hague I imagine.

      There will be no finding before the election and the greasy boys and girls may well be returned to power partly on the strength of it, but the huge amount of international attention once the Hague Court releases its findings should see them all off with a thumping kick in the backside from which they will hopefully not recover for many years.

  15. McFlock 15

    cheers EKF, hope you get them sorted soon.

    As for ‘where to from here’, I think this is a festering sore rather than a king-hit. This is hardly the first time that NZDF has killed someone with an apparent screwup and insisted it was all ok and tried to avoid scrutiny. Something is wrong in the way NZDF management (and I use the term intentionally) deals with its problems, and it’s one of these things that will need to be kept alive over months if not years.

    If the main claims in the book are correct, we need to minimise the chances of such a foul-up happening again.

  16. mary_a 16

    Very disappointing when the PM of the day is relying on his “independent” source of advice, the chief of the NZDF Tim Keating to call the shots. Do we live in a military dictatorship now, where the defence force says what goes? Keating’s comments and lies over the past week have been very conflicting, including stating an inquiry should be held. Now according to Bill English Keating’s advice is to not go down the inquiry road. So where does all this leave the issue?

    Not looking good for the Kiwis serving in the NZ defence forces at the moment, or their predecessors.

    Bill English is gutless. He needs to be taken to task for his incompetent decision here.

    Looks like the next move could well be the ICC at The Hague, seeing the NZ government will not investigate. Will the names at the top of the list of accused look something like this :

    John Key
    Wayne Mapp
    Jerry Mataparae
    along with a few others ….

    • Penny Bright 16.1

      NZ Herald’s Chief Political Editor Audrey Young – ‘takes no prisoners’!


      “Bil English says he has all the information he needs to make up his mind.

      By Audrey Young

      The Prime Minister says no inquiry into the SAS raid in Afghanistan is needed because he trusts the process and he trusts the Chief of Defence Force.

      Granted he has no reason to personally mistrust the Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating, but he has every reason to mistrust the process.

      There’s that old saying that justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.

      When those who are accused decide if there is a case to answer, justice is nowhere to be seen.

      GO Audrey!

      Is our ‘clean, green’ New Zealand, now some sort of
      half-assed military dictatorship / ‘banana republic’ – without the bananas?


      Whatever happened to the good, old-fashioned Kiwi ‘fair go’ / ‘always two sides to the story’ thing?

      What about the villagers in Afghanistan who lost family members – and are being represented by prominent NZ Human Rights lawyers?

      Did PM Bill English talk to them?


      Did PM Bill English talk to the authors of ‘Hit and Run’ and give them a fair hearing?


      In my considered opinion, Bill English as NZ Prime Minister, is as gutless as he is useless, in terms of standing up to ‘OUR -independent of the NZ Government’ / pro-USA / effectively out-of-control NZ Defence Force.


      Sorry PM Bill English, but in my view, you are NOT ‘fit for duty’, and you need to GO.

      • ianmac 16.1.1

        ” Justice not seen to be done as English accepts Defence Force advice on possible probe- Audrey Young”
        Notice that that column is very hard to find in the Herald today. Relegated?

  17. McFlock 17

    The other problem with current NZDF mandarins providing advice on what happened in events 8 years ago is whether they have skeletons in their own closet: what was Keating doing in 2010? If he was demonstrably well out of it, what about the people who collated the reports for him? Where now are the those mid-level commanders who relied on the crap intelligence?

    An inquiry would guarantee independence as much as practicably possible.

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