Saturday, April 1, 2017

ON HAGER AND STEPHENSON

The week has seen claim and counter-claim ... it has devolved into the classic 'he said/she said'.   One thing for sure, 'their' claim that the facts in the book had been checked and double checked has more holes in it than a Swiss cheese.   And now we have the unedifying spectacle of an 'ambulance chasing' lawyer supposedly acting for the 'villagers' in pursuit of blood money.    This is an industry in Afghanistan with all its attendant problems.

I guess what has saddened me the most is the way some commentators on this and other blogs have been quick to accept everything that Hager and Stephenson have alleged as the gospel truth and label the incident as New Zealand's My Lai.

Clearly they prefer to believe the worst.   For myself I believe the professionalism of 'our' military is such that I find it difficult to accept the essential thesis of the book that the raid, so-called, expressly targeted civilians as revenge for the killing of Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell.

That the raid itself was a 'failure' is a moot.   That happens in war.   Operation Market Garden in WW2 was a failure too (with civilians killed).   But that's not the point.   Hager and Stephenson would have it that the civilian casualties (if any) were extrajudicial killings.

The time has some for Hager's supposed SAS informants to come forward and stop hiding behind 'journalistic' skirts.   If 'they' can be shown to have first hand knowledge of the events as outlined in the book (as opposed to hearsay knowledge) then I would support a formal inquiry.   The balls in Hager's court.   Time for him to put up or shut up ... but I won't hold my breath on either.


27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agree with most of this post except the bit about conditions being met before an enquiry is launched. There is claim and counter claim, most of it spurious, all designed to muddy the already cloudy waters and manipulate the public's opinion.

The boil needs lancing and it needs to be done rapidly and with transparency.

The military are not above burying their mistakes and misleading parliament and the people as has happened previously......remember the soldier who died in a friendly fire incident and for 30 years the public, the next of kin and government were told and believed that he had died in an enemy attack...there were people of senoir rank who knew the truth but did not speak out.

Lord Egbut Nobacon

macdoctor said...

Do not confuse military obfuscation following a stuff-up and the deliberate revenge killing of civilians. The former is butt-covering and the latter is an out-and-out crime. It is the latter than Hager is alleging.

This can only be nonsense. Not that I believe that the military is not capable of such an act, but because this was clearly a joint operation with substantial oversight. It is actually not possible that New Zealand soldiers undertook a revenge raid on civilians under that scenario. They would have to have had a level of co-operation and collusion from the US that would have been absurd in its extent. Simple logic tells us that this is unreasonable nonsense.

Allan said...

Hager and his cohort are the scum of the earth. They do not deserve to be given any credence whatsoever, their assertions are drawn from false evidence and we should forget about spending any money on an inquest which will in my opinion reveal no new evidence. I believe in karma and I only hope that Hager meets with some of the brave SAS soldiers who have been in Afghanistan and other similar places, in a dark street one night and is given some summary justice for slandering those who have risked their lives for our country's security. I have nothing but contempt for the 2 Journalists and the Lawyers who have taken up the cudgel in defense of them.

Psycho Milt said...

Hilarious. Hager is "scum of the earth" for suggesting the SAS might have killed civilians, so to prove just how wrong he is you hope the SAS might kill him, a civilian. That's pretty special.

Psycho Milt said...

One thing for sure, 'their' claim that the facts in the book had been checked and double checked has more holes in it than a Swiss cheese.

Well, it has at least one hole in it that we know of. And the military's version is also looking very Swiss cheesy, as outlined here: http://www.pundit.co.nz/content/operation-burnham-the-cover-up-continues.

You know what would help with this? An official enquiry or a Police investigation. Having an actual government would be good right now, one with a leader capable of leading, perhaps. Dreams are free...

I guess what has saddened me the most is the way some commentators on this and other blogs have been quick to accept everything that Hager and Stephenson have alleged as the gospel truth and label the incident as New Zealand's My Lai.

I must have missed those comments. But Hager and Stephenson have certainly presented evidence for their claim that the NZDF carried out a raid that did nothing but kill civilians and destroy their property, left wounded civilians to die and returned later to destroy even more civilian property. That means some form of investigation is needed to establish the truth or otherwise of the claim - flat denials from the NZDF and the government are insufficient, especially given both have previous form for lying.

The Realist said...

I'd feed them both to the pigs.

The Veteran said...

PM ... you missed those comments ... physician heal thyself. Hager and Stephenson haven't presented 'evidence' ... they've made allegations based on that told them by a supposed SAS whistle-blower (whose credentials cannot be checked because Hager won't front up) and by Afghan villagers hanging out for blood money.

You said the raid "did nothing but kill civilians and destroy their property". Pray tell since when were the Talaban anything but roving bands of civilian soldiers dressed in civilian clothes and blending seamlessly into village life. Can I suggest you get real and learn that in an insurgent conflict where one side wears civilian clothes and there is no front line there will inevitably be civilian causalities. That doesn't constitute war crimes.

I repeat. Let the so called whistle-blower front up and if his credentials check out as having first hand knowledge of the raid then by all means there should be an Inquiry. But Hager won't let this happen because it's not in his interest to do so.

The Government is right in not dancing to Hager's tune.

Psycho Milt said...

Hager and Stephenson haven't presented 'evidence' ... they've made allegations based on that told them by a supposed SAS whistle-blower ... and by Afghan villagers...

Witness statements are evidence. That's the case not only in journalism but in the criminal justice system.

...in an insurgent conflict where one side wears civilian clothes and there is no front line there will inevitably be civilian causalities. That doesn't constitute war crimes.

Well, it depends, doesn't it - killing civilians and destroying their property aren't necessarily war crimes, but may well be. That's why an investigation needs to happen. Also, what about leaving civilians wounded in your attack to die? If true, these allegations are an account of war crimes. Get an investigation going before the ICC takes Bill English at his word and starts its own investigation.

You said the raid "did nothing but kill civilians and destroy their property".

I did not. I said Hager and Stephenson claim this and have presented evidence to support that claim. That doesn't mean the claim is true, it means the claim isn't an empty one and needs investigating. I personally have no idea whether the raid did what the authors claim or not, but as a citizen and taxpayer I have a right to know and the government has a responsibility to inform me.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Wrong again, Legbut.

All an inquiry will achieve will be to encourage other ne'erdowells to publish unsubstantiated and scurrilous accusations about people they don't like.

Ghost Of Greenwood said...

I'm sick of this pencilneck geek Hager showing up almost every election year since 2002 with another book of full of unsubstantiated rumour, innuendo and hearsay that the media feels is necessary to jerk themselves into a fervour over. He couldn't even get the village and the chronology right, what a complete tool.

. . . and what sort of bloke calls himself "Nicky" for fuck sake?

Chris said...

The time has some for Hager's supposed SAS informants to come forward and stop hiding behind 'journalistic' skirts.

I totally agree with this statement as these people, if they are real SAS personel, are sullying the reputatiuon of every SAS person, either serving or retired, and hence they are all being tared with the same brush.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy said...

Aaah Egbut, the soldier who was killed by accident is another story for another time. The only correlation is that someone saw fit to open that can of worms for probably the same purpose - self aggrandisement and on the part of one family member, demands for compensation.

Hager and Stephenson have the same credibility as those of our era who claim to have been exposed to Agent Orange after all herbicide spraying ceased in our AO in June 1968. In spite of firm evidence to the contrary 'it is impossible that they are wrong'.

The Veteran said...

PM ... sorry to rain on your parade. An unsworn statement by an anonymous person has no standing at all in our justice system. It may have standing with Hager who runs with his own standard of journalist ethics but then again, I put him in the same basket as all conspiracy theorists ... cock up over conspiracy and I'll take cock up every day.

Psycho Milt said...

Yet again, this is why an official investigation is necessary. Journalists don't take sworn statements. Woodward and Bernstein didn't get sworn statements from or publicly identify Deep Throat, but his statements were evidence in support of claims that Nixon had committed crimes, and an investigation based on that evidence was well justified.

The Veteran said...

PM ... I stand by my point ... the allegations (and that's what they are ... not evidence) have no standing until the whistle-blower fronts so that his credentials can be assessed. Hager has his own agenda and part of that is making money. It helps book sales to suggest that any civilian casualties were extra-judicial killings by the SAS gone rogue sanctioned personally by John Key. It also helps his political agenda.

Stand firm Mr English ... stand firm. Don't play Hager's game.let

Anonymous said...

Veteran..if you look carefully you will see most of the comments here are as speculative and emotive as the book they claim is speculative and emotive.

Supporting a public enquiry does not mean I am supporting the books claims. It is in the public domain now and any attempt to derail or thwart an inquiry is seen as an attempt to muddy the waters and hide the truth. Those commentators who bang on about our "brave boys" should have nothing to fear from the can of worms being opened to public scrutiny.

Lord Egbut

The Veteran said...

Egbut ... I agree ... sort of. But in order for any inquiry to go ahead I want to be satisfied as to the credentials of what has been touted by Hager as the main player ... the so called SAS whistle-blower. If he was a player, a participant in the raid, then I would support an inquiry. But if he isn't ... if it's all hearsay, then you are marching to the drum of Hager, conspiracy theorist extraordinaire.

A point of information ... didn't happen in our day but my understanding is that now any operational deployment has a NZDF lawyer embedded with it to ensure that any proposed operation is in accordance with the established RoE. Happened when my s-i-l took HMNZS Te Mana up to Gulf in 2008. Be very surprised if this wasn't the case here (same time frame).

Anonymous said...

Veteran.....Why is it important to present evidence in piecemeal packets? My main concern is that the operation existed and used SAS personnel. Being used as stormtroopers is not the SAS's line of work. That they were used like this worries me.

If a four man SAS patrol went on a mission in Vietnam loaded with 1200 rounds and returned with 1200 rounds mission successful....arrive back with 1499 rounds..compromised.

Lord Egbut

Anonymous said...

Make that 1199 rounds........

The Veteran said...

Not asking for evidence to be presented in piecemeal packets. What I want is to be satisfied as to the credentials of the whistleblower as someone who was an active participant as opposed to someone gabbing off hearsay.

The SAS have many roles ... both overt and covert. The PRT was not mandated to carry out this sort of operation. That leaves the SAS.

Your use of the word 'stormtrooper' with all its connotations is unfortunate.

Anonymous said...

Better get Stormtrooper out of the way first.. Coined in WW1 for the highly trained German light infantry that led the 1918 offensive, equivalent is the British light infantry who were known as storming infantry particularly when taking part in the "Forlorn hopes", in the US it is the Marines.

It is all academic now as PM has seen a clip of a video and decided all is above board. Little has come out of this as far the better man and his comment that it will fester for years echo's mine....and it will.

The use of high value assets in a night attack against low value targets that pose no threat is NOT a good use of the SAS. This begs the question, what were the motives?

ALL Afghan compounds are armed and have been armed for the last 1000 years, the Lee Enfield has given way to the AK47....using the discovery of weapons to prove insurgency is utter bullshit and of course they are going to shoot back when unknowns come out of the dark.

But as I said it is academic until someone or someone's money talks.

Lord Egbut

The Veteran said...

Egbut ... well, at least you didn't say Nazi stormtrooper but!!!!!!! So Little backs Hager with his allegation that any civilian causalities were extra-judicial killings without any evidence save that of an anonymous whistle-blower who won't front and some supposed Afghan 'relatives' in pursuit of blood money. One might have though that with his other 'allegations' now being tested in Court Mr Little might be a little more circumspect in his utterances.

The PM has made the right call in not dancing to Hager's tune. It can be reversed should the whistle-blower front ... but I doubt that

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Legbut strikes again!

"ALL Afghan compounds are armed and have been armed for the last 1000 years"

Been there and seen them all, have you?

So when is a dark skinned bearded man, dressed in civilian clothes, waving an AK47 not an insurgent?

When Legbut, after extreme vetting, says so.

Jobson Growth said...

Adolt, define insurgent.

It would appear to me that you would have labelled The Maquis, The Forest Brothers, Valkenburg, Żydowski Związek Wojskowy, The Viet Minh, DELASEM, et al as insurgents.

If The Veteran took to the hills with his Owen gun and his Austen after a uStates Led invasion of NZ, no doubt, to you, even he would be an "insurgent".

Psycho Milt said...

So when is a dark skinned bearded man, dressed in civilian clothes, waving an AK47 not an insurgent?

When he's an Afghan villager wondering who's shooting at his village in the middle of the night.

Psycho Milt said...

So Little backs Hager with his allegation that any civilian causalities were extra-judicial killings...

Wrong. Hager and Stephenson (the book has two authors, right-wingers should try and get over their obsession with Nicky Hager) claim an investigation is required to establish whether these were extra-judicial killings or not. Little agrees, English says no need for an investigation because the top brass assure him it was all above board. One of these men is an idiot, and it ain't Little. It's going to fester alright, on the obvious basis that the refusal to investigate suggests the outcome of the investigation wouldn't be pleasant for the NZDF. Also, English is risking the ICC stepping in - now there would be a great look for the NZ government, and by extension us, the citizenry.

The Veteran said...

PM ... clearly we agree to disagree. That is our right. My take and your take on the refusal to investigate is poles apart. You can't investigate something when the person making the allegations refuses to step forward.

If calling the PM an idiot helps you to get your rocks off sobeit. IMHO Little is playing to the anti-military prejudice that exists in sections of his Party and the Greens ... witness their pledge to cull $20b from the CEP.

Mr Little ... failed lawyer, Union hack, rejected by his caucus peers, failed electorate candidate thrice and on the cusp of having a conviction entered against him ... a c.v. designed to inspire confidence in his judgement NOT.