Ridiculous demands for urgent inquiry

Some media and some politicians are demanding an urgent, immediate inquiry into the Afghan attack the SAS were involved in. This is ridiculous.

Sound governance should not operate on the demands of the every shortening news cycle, nor on the demands of increasingly activist ‘journalists’ trying to create headlines.

The merits of the claims by Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson on their book Hit & Run should be carefully assessed, and alternate views also have to be considered.

This will take time.More time than a journalist or pundit getting a book at 5:30 pm, making a pronouncement on the 6 o’clock news, reading the book overnight and leading the morning headlines with demands for instant action from Government.

The Minister of Defence and the head of the NZ Defence Force are out of the country until Saturday. They have to be consulted.

People taking more time and care than journalists jumping to conclusions based on a one sided book need to check through the claims – and ask questions, seek other views, and assess the merits of the claims.

Even Nicky Hager says that time is needed.

Mar 22, 2017 12:57 PM
Nicky Hager
I hope that politicians will have the sense to avoid dismissing any of the allegations we’ve put forward until they have really seriously looked at them and asked questions. I believe that this issue is not going to go away quickly, that we are going to end up with it being investigated over months or years, and it would be wise for all politicians to keep an open mind when they haven’t even had a chance to read the book.

The raid occurred in Afghanistan in 2010.

Hager and Stephenson have been working on the book since 2014.

Demanding action to fit with a ridiculously short news cycle is not only nuts, it’s irresponsible.

Bill English has been criticised for not taking decisive action. That can be expected from bloggers but journalists should know better – if they weren’t so encased in there instant news bubbles.

If in a couple of weeks or a couple of months the Government decides that an inquiry is justified – and that may well turn out to be the prudent option – the same journalists who didn’t  have their instant demands met, and a few politicians and bloggers, are likely to label it a flip flop or u-turn.

I want a Prime Minister who will consider serious issues – as the Afghan incident is – and will seek good advice before making decisions.

Bill English needs to sharpen up on how he deals with media howling for instant action.

But he is correct in taking his time considering how the Government should deal with the claims in the Hager/Stephenson book.

Sometimes Prime Ministers and Governments have to react quickly and decisively to events that happen.

An incident that happened 7 years ago, and claims in a book that has taken 3 years to write, don’t justify instant political action. To the contrary.

Very serious legal issues have been raised, including suggestions of possible war crimes.

A Government not only should but has to take time seeking sound legal advice. They should also allow other evidence to be presented.

Demands for an atom bomb instant reaction are more than ridiculous, they are also stupid.

53 Comments

  1. artcroft

     /  23rd March 2017

    Trump, ISIS, Jacinda Ardern, sport and tragedies, will all conspire over the next weeks and months to push this non-story off the pages. I guess Nicky will release his next update of the issue to keep fanning the flames, with the assistance of the press, but I can’t see it leading to anything of significance.

    • Missy

       /  23rd March 2017

      It looks like today’s events in London have already pushed it off the front pages.

      • And the ‘book’ into the remainder bin.
        Why did it take until John Keys retirement for this thing to be published?

  2. NOEL

     /  23rd March 2017

    Seems pretty simple. When Helen Clark sent the first SAS mission she claimed the were expected to abide by the Rules of Engagement she approved.

  3. Blazer

     /  23rd March 2017

    inclined to agree with the sentiments of the OP.

  4. Ray

     /  23rd March 2017

    The one thing that seemed interesting to me was “they” knew that the targeted insurgents hadn’t been taken out because they turned up at the “civilian ” funerals
    So who defines who is a civilian, who is an insurgent, and who supports the bad guys, let us not forget were killers of not only soldiers but their own people.

  5. Corky

     /  23rd March 2017

    PM Billy English is feeling the heat. What do do? Pray to Catholic Saints world events conspire to take the focus away from calls for an enquiry. Ironically,the greatest example of that was the Christchurch Earthquake which took the wind out of Ex British PM David Cameron’s extraordinary speech on Muslims.

    Next, ride it out and allow people’s short concentration span to kick in

    Last go to option, and one I would favour because Its win, win and win….ring Bernie Monk and tell him we are re entering Pike River.

    Oh,one final thing…utu. Make sure Keys name is in the new years honour list.

  6. Jay3

     /  23rd March 2017

    Timing this book launch a day before Key’s valedictory speech was a petty, vindictive attempt by Hager to steal Key’s thunder and ensure he left parliament under a cloud. Hardly the actions of a “respected investigative journalist.” Hager has clearly got a vendetta against Key and it is increasingly clouding his judgement.

  7. Pete Kane

     /  23rd March 2017

    Mapp: SAS not guilty of war crimes, operation a “fiasco”.
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=201837665

  8. Zedd

     /  23rd March 2017

    IF the allegations in Hager’s book (as reported) are correct.. then it does need to be investigated. Has anyone heard of ‘the Geneva conventions’ which make it illegal/war crime to ‘murder innocents (non-combatants)’ on the battlefield OR to stage revenge attacks on them, just because they ‘look like the enemy’.

    These actions are more likely to provoke further ‘terrorist attacks’, maybe here in NZ !! 😦

    • Gezza

       /  23rd March 2017

      Publishing a book about it certainly raises the risk since the rise of ISIS.

    • Corky

       /  23rd March 2017

      ”Has anyone heard of ‘the Geneva conventions’’

      I had to have good laugh at that one, Zedd%. You remind me of the spokesman ( not person)
      from some organisation called the ‘Peace Initiative’ whom said in an interview words to the effect that it must be true because the book lists victims.

      • Zedd

         /  23rd March 2017

        you again… pls dont get too excited !

        btw ‘no % in Zedd’ 😦

        • Corky

           /  23rd March 2017

          Excited? Just stating a fact. Don’t be offended that I dont take you seriously. As Gezza says we are just taking the piss.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  23rd March 2017

            It must be true, it’s in a book. Er….

          • Zedd

             /  23rd March 2017

            @corky

            may I suggest you do something else with YOUR piss

            btw; maybe you should change you name to ‘CorEnglsh’ ? 😀

            • Corky

               /  23rd March 2017

              Don’t blame me. Gezza. said it.

            • Zedd

               /  23rd March 2017

              now whose taking the piss ? 😀 😀

            • Corky

               /  23rd March 2017

              Ask him..he won’t lie.

            • Zedd

               /  23rd March 2017

              hey corkey.. you’ve actually got to ‘grow a brain’ before you can think for yourself.. instead of jumping on the populous/tory bandwagon.. just because they wave the most cash at you ! 😦

          • Gezza

             /  23rd March 2017

            Don’t try & drag me into your blunders Corks. I only pick off the easy targets, like Al.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  23rd March 2017

              Irony again, G?

            • Gezza

               /  23rd March 2017

              … possibly … 🤔

            • Corky

               /  23rd March 2017

              Just stating a fact, no blunder. He says I have to grow a brain. That coming from someone whom you can look in one ear and watch TV through the other Then he has the cheek to say I’m jumping on the Tory bandwagon. This guy rattles like a bag of bones.

            • Gezza

               /  23rd March 2017

              Christ Corks. I shouldn’t have to tell you when I’m taking the piss.

    • Missy

       /  23rd March 2017

      Tell me Zedd, how do you identify the combatants when they are insurgents who dress as civilians, live as civilians, and lie to the media about their complicity?

      The Geneva Convention needs to be reviewed and updated in my opinion, it was written when wars involved clearly identifiable armies, when the combatants all wore uniforms to identify what ‘side’ they were on. These days few wars are between nations armies, in many of the conflicts today one side are civilians who are working as insurgents, fighting the armies of other countries, they don’t wear a uniform to clearly define their ‘side’, they can be the grocer, or the farmer, or the police officer.

      So, with your obviously vast knowledge on this, how do you tell who are the combatants when they are dressed as civilians?

  9. NOEL

     /  23rd March 2017

    Here’s an idea.
    H and S have made a number of accusations in the book.
    I’ll support a taxpayer funded inquiry only if they will put up all the proceeds of the book sale to offset the costs if their claims are unsupported.

  10. Put this into the NZSAS situation in NZ and you will see what I was talking about on the likely effects on the morale of our troops, and the need for Military Courts to deal with active service trials, not civilians far removed from the reality of combat.

    FROM THE UK.
    The Marine A case has dented the confidence of UK troops on the battlefield and the Ministry of Defence must now work to restore the trust of soldiers, one of his comrades has said.

    Sergeant Rob Driscoll, who was leading a nearby patrol when Sergeant Alexander Blackman, 42, shot a wounded Taliban insurgent, said he he did not understand why the Marine had been “so badly treated”.

    He made the comments as Blackman prepares to be sentenced on Friday for diminished responsibility manslaughter after his murder conviction for shooting the Taliban fighter in Afghanistan was quashed.

    If the new sentence is below six and a half years, he will be released immediately on the basis of the three and a half years he has already been in prison.

    Sgt Driscoll said he hoped there would be “common sense” applied to the sentencing.
    He said: “I genuinely don’t think that it ever should have happened.

    “I just don’t understand why he has been so badly treated and I am anxious to see how he will be treated now.
    He added: “I think that it has all had a really significant impact on efficiency of our Armed Forces. There are young lads still in the Marines that will have these considerations to make and I am not sure how that will effect our operational capability.

    “The damage has already been done and I think that the MoD has a duty, society has a duty, and Parliament has a duty toward the Armed Forces and that needs to be addressed.

    “It is really important now because soldiers of today are very different to the soldiers of yesterday. Half of the people in my unit had degrees, they are thinking soldiers, they are intelligent people and the whole thought process is different to my grandfather’s era when they did it for Queen and country.

    “You undermine their trust in the system and that has an impact on efficiency. That’s the next conversation that that everyone needs to be having – we need to combat the mistrust in the system.
    “I see it in the police, I see it in the special forces and I see it in the conventional army and that undermines everything.

    “We all want Al to get out, but then we have to look at how we motivate our young men and women to go to war again.

    “Do we want these guys and girls to be on the front line thinking ‘I don’t want to take this shot because of what might happen’?” The Telegraph.

    I also have responsibility for killing two Indonesian Special Forces soldiers, one of whom was wounded, because, when I went forward to disarm them, they threw a grenade at me and fired a long burst of fire from a Madsen Machine gun. So we killed both of them immediately. They having made the choice not to surrender. War had not been declared, and we were in Borneo, subject to the laws of Malaysia. I was photographed with the remains and had to write a full report so as to avoid a charge of manslaughter. The dead Indonesians were taken back to base, formally identified and buried in accordance with Muslim burial rights. I arranged for the other Indonesian wounded to be casevaced by helicopter, and they were all treated and survived.
    I fully understand the bewilderment of the British Marines, and counsel our authorities to think hard and deep before taking the SAS matter out of the Military Justice system.

    • patupaiarehe

       /  23rd March 2017

      IMHO BJ, you are really the only individual here, who is qualified to give an opinion on what happens in a war zone. It’s all well & good, to say how terrible it is that civilians were killed, several years after the fact. I imagine that one’s perspective would be entirely different, approaching a village that one had been told was full of insurgents, who had recently killed one of your platoon…. I don’t imagine that anyone involved in the raid, was happy about the death of a toddler either.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  23rd March 2017

        Absolutely agree, patu. Well said.

        • patupaiarehe

           /  23rd March 2017

          An inquiry into the events of that day is a complete waste of money, IMHO. It won’t bring anyone back to life. From what I can gather, the forces involved in the raid acted in good faith, on bad ‘intel’…

          • Blazer

             /  23rd March 2017

            so you think an act of revenge….is in good faith…..very good:(

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  23rd March 2017

              Let’s spell it out for the loony Left. If your forces are attacked you try to find where the attackers are and neutralise them so they can’t do it again. In this case they were obviously too late or misled and didn’t discover that until too late in the counter-attack.

              That would be pretty obvious to a primary school kid, but not to the loony Left.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  23rd March 2017

              An alleged act of revenge, Blazer. In a war zone, eliminating those who are attempting to kill you, makes sense to me. Neither you, nor I were there, so let’s leave the judgements up to those who were.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  23rd March 2017

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  23rd March 2017

              It’s like following a tourist driver, patu. You long to put it out of its misery but are not allowed to.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  23rd March 2017

              You long to put it out of its misery but are not allowed to.

              Reminds me a little, of my thoughts on some of your comments, vs my respect for Pete’s rules… 😀

  11. Kabull

     /  23rd March 2017

    Its a shame – but not unexpected – that so much is being made of the death of the child. One could be convinced that an SAS soldier shot the youngster. But if I understand the background correctly, she was killed by shrapnel, not by direct fire. Its not clear whether the shrapnel was from the helicopter fire, or ground fire. Also, if she was not killed by a direct shot, how would you identify any individual who could be held personally responsible?
    Also, this hysteria over Mapp ‘knowing civilians were involved’ because he was Minister of Defence is crazy. By his own admission he did not know until he saw a TV documentary some years after the event. So his ‘knowledge’ is in no way ‘evidence’ of what occurred.

  12. Blazer

     /  23rd March 2017

    alot more deaths than 1 child.The govt will have an inquiry…yes!

    • patupaiarehe

       /  23rd March 2017

      And discover that some civilians were killed in a war zone, Blazer? I’m not saying it is right, but it happened. What do you think an inquiry will achieve?

    • Jay3

       /  24th March 2017

      Yes, interesting that Chris Trotter had his long and well-researched piece all ready to go as soon as Hager’s book was launched. David Fisher’s well-prepared articles about the issue are also appearing in the Herald on cue, and what do you know, a bunch of human rights lawyers are now making statements to RNZ. It’s like a tag team.