Hager: NZDF rebuttal “doesn’t change anything”

After NZ Defence Force chief Tim Keating strongly contested claims made by Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson in ‘Hit & Run’ Hager says this doesn’t change anything.

1 News: NZDF Afghanistan raid rebutal ‘doesn’t change anything’, Nicky Hager says

Mr Hager this evening hit out at the press conference, saying the NZDF is simply desperate to avoid a formal inquiry.

“If they were right and I don’t think they are that the location of this destruction was 2km from where we were told it was, this doesn’t change anything,” he said.

“I think what is going on here, inside of the Defence Force they are very keen to avoid an inquiry.”

But it has changed things considerably, switching Hager and Stephenson from attack to defence as they try to counter Keating’s claims.

They will be well aware that their reputations are on the line – as is Keating’s.

RNZ: Hit & Run authors dispute NZDF account

It is impossible the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) carried out a simultaneous raid on a separate Afghan village the night that civilians in two nearby villages were killed, the authors of Hit & Run say.

The NZDF has not claimed simultaneous raids, they say the SAS were never at the villages that Hager and Stephenson claimed were attacked by them.

One puzzle – if a simultaneous  raid could not have been carried out how could two villages have been attacked as they claim?

Hit & Run co-author Jon Stephenson told Checkpoint with John Campbell both the Defence Force and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) agreed there was only one raid that night.

“It’s virtually impossible that there were two identical operations in the same area.”

He stuck to the book’s claim that the single raid that occurred was carried out in Khak Khuday Dad and Naik.

“Lots of things were found [in the two villages] that are consistent with our story, including cannon rounds from Apache helicopters,” Mr Stephenson said.

“We know that the Chinooks left big indentations in the wheat fields that were seen and measured by the villagers.”

That’s what the villagers are claiming. Villages where insurgents came from (Stephenson says they had left the villages to avoid being attacked).

The book’s other co-author, Nicky Hager, said General Keating’s claims were a bluff by the Defence Force, which Mr Hager said was doing everything it could to avoid a formal inquiry.

“If Tim Keating is confident that they have done nothing wrong, they should have a full inquiry.”

“Releasing selective information is not the way you get to the bottom of a story … and they should be welcoming this if they think they’ve got nothing to hide.

“But I believe they are desperately trying to avoid it [an inquiry] because they know the book is true.”

Keating said he would welcome an inquiry, although he thought there would be legal difficulties with that.  He said he would try and have video coverage of the attack released.

Hager is implying that if there is no ‘full inquiry’ the NZDF must be trying to hide something.

But if an inquiry is held and it finds no proof that the SAS attacked to two other villages as alleged, or that the SAS killed civilians contrary to terms of engagement, then Hager may still claim only selective information has been released.

It isn’t up to Keating to order an inquiry. Prime Minister Bill English sounds reluctant to have an inquiry at this stage.

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16 Comments

  1. Missy

     /  28th March 2017

    So, if Hager and Stephenson are so confident they are right, why don’t they release recordings of the interviews they conducted? Why are they hiding behind anonymous sources?

    General Keating and the NZDF have rebutted with what evidence they are able (by law) to release, why are Hager and Stephenson claiming that it is up to NZDF to prove their side of the story – surely the burden of proof is now back on them, especially as the NZDF say they got the most fundamental fact (location) incorrect.

    ” “If they were right and I don’t think they are that the location of this destruction was 2km from where we were told it was, this doesn’t change anything,” he said. ”

    So, Hager is saying that even if the NZDF are right they are still wrong, how does that work?

    Reply
  2. Bill Brown

     /  28th March 2017

    “Lots of things we found” – in an investigative story since when have “things” been convincing????
    There are sadly in war, civilian casualties, but this book has to date fallen way short of the mark.

    Reply
  3. NZ Herald: Camera footage from helicopter shows SAS raid claims are wrong, says Defence chief

    Camera footage from a helicopter used during SAS raids in Afghanistan has been cited by the Chief of Defence Force in a vigorous defence of New Zealand actions.

    Lieutenant General Tim Keating has fronted media and said he would not be opposed to an inquiry, although he questioned the legal grounds for one.

    Keating also suggested he will seek footage taken from helicopters supporting the SAS, saying it could be released to people with appropriate security classification.

    “That camera footage, one, provides irrefutable evidence of what was being engaged by the coalition aircraft. And, two, it is geo-referenced so it gives the location of where those engagements occurred. I have seen it.”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11826200

    Also:

    Hager and Stephenson tonight stood by their claims and suggested Keating was doing everything in his power to avoid an inquiry, which has been called for by Labour, the Green Party, NZ First and United Future.

    Calls for an inquiry were called for by parties before the NZDF rebuttals. They may or may not review their stances.

    Reply
    • Kevin

       /  28th March 2017

      “Hager and Stephenson tonight stood by their claims and suggested Keating was doing everything in his power to avoid an inquiry, which has been called for by Labour, the Green Party, NZ First and United Future.”

      So welcoming an inquiry plus being willing to seek out and release video of the alleged incident is doing everything in your power to avoid an inquiry?

      Melt, melt, melt.

      Reply
  4. Griff

     /  28th March 2017

    If the defense force proves Hager is misinformed it is because they are covering up.

    Conspiracy Theorists Respond to Evidence They’re Conspiracy Theorists With More Conspiracy Theories

    Reply
  5. David

     /  28th March 2017

    The media are way too invested in Hagar and desperate for this to be a huge story. Unfortunately this is to be at the expense of the reputations of soldiers who put their lives in danger on a reconstruction mission.
    I admit my dislike of Hagar and his theft of peoples private communications and his far left conspiracy theories but I forlornly hope the media will hold his feet to the fire… and also call out that horrid Manning woman.

    Reply
    • Anonymous Coward

       /  28th March 2017

      This is “HAGAR”

      This is “HAGER”

      Spot the difference?

      Reply
  6. Kevin

     /  28th March 2017

    “But if an inquiry is held and it finds no proof that the SAS attacked to two other villages as alleged, or that the SAS killed civilians contrary to terms of engagement, then Hager may still claim only selective information has been released.”

    Like I said before. An inquiry will be a win/win for Hager as he gets to keep the book in the limelight and if the inquiry doesn’t go his way he can claim the inquiry was biased and part of the conspiracy.

    Hager is looking more and more like the wicked witch of the west every day. Melt, melt, melt.

    Reply
  7. Jeeves

     /  28th March 2017

    Forlornly ??

    Reply
  8. NOEL

     /  28th March 2017

    I’ve seen the video and if you have been vetted you can see it too.
    Ahhhh proclamation for the general public why didn’t he say Ive seen the video but you can’t.

    Reply
  9. Hager has not made any evidence available that rebuts the Defence Force evidence presented. He has made allegations yet is not prepared to name any witnesses. He has virtually admitted he has not been to Afghanistan and not interviewed on the ground the members of the villages he alleges were hit by NZSAS. Defence have stated their ground forces fired two bullets during Operation Burnham leading to the elimination of one terrorist.
    At the same time, we see an orchestrated litany of supporting statements from the usual suspects. I could write a book that alleges a conspiracy by Hager and those around him with marxist socialist leanings to attack the Defence Forces as part of dissemination of the Hager Doctrine and “back it up” by statements from unnamed sources who have become disaffected with the Hager Doctrine, and I could claim the same merit as Hager has for his book. He has shot himself in the foot, and should be called out for what he is.

    Reply
  10. Kevin

     /  28th March 2017

    LPrent adds his 2 cents:

    https://thestandard.org.nz/nzdf-credibility-on-the-line/#comment-1314786
    “lprent 19.1.2.1.3
    28 March 2017 at 11:46 am
    From my reading of the book there is next to no documentary evidence to support them.

    Interestingly enough, I was thinking exactly the same thing about the NZDF claims from the last couple of days.

    Hit and Run has made some claims based largely on eyewitness accounts. The NZDF appears to be making claims based on mythical and apparently unavailable evidence.”

    Um, yes. So apparently the camera footage is all mythical.

    Reply
  11. Alan Wilkinson

     /  28th March 2017

    Can Hager tell us how many of his sources were based on insurgents or their supporters?

    Almost certain not. So he has no assurance about anything he has claimed via third hand information.

    An honest person admits his own weaknesses but a dishonest one never does.

    Reply
  12. Missy

     /  28th March 2017

    I have just listened to Hager being interviewed by Jack Tame on Monday evening.

    I have no words… well I do, but they are very unladylike.

    Essentially what I got out of it is that Hager is saying that NZDF should release classified information – some of which doesn’t belong to them and they have no right to declassify – in order to show what really happened, which he claims that will prove he is right, and if they don’t offer it up then that also proves he is right – even if he is wrong.

    Hager also said that if there is an official inquiry he will not offer up his own sources, he claims that he will only provide them if they are willing to appear before the inquiry. I guess that gives an out for any of Hager’s sources who are lying and the SAS will never have the opportunity to face those that are accusing them – a basic tenet of our justice system

    If anyone believes that the villagers are 100% telling the truth they need to look at what happened in the UK with IHAT and the number of ‘witnesses’ that were found to be lying, unreliable, or encouraged by lawyers to lie. Regardless of whether insurgents were in the village or not the villagers will say they weren’t. These witnesses, as well as the alleged SAS soldiers, who spoke to Hager need to appear before any official inquiry if it happens in order for their credibility to be independently assessed. If Hager wants the NZDF to provide all of their evidence then he must too.

    How does he expect anyone with any level of intelligence to trust him if he is unwilling to even provide his sources to the inquiry he is calling for? The fact that he is unwilling to provide his sources to an inquiry whilst demanding the NZDF release classified material makes me very suspicious of his motive and the integrity of his investigation, and I think after last week’s bluster he is trying very hard to salvage some credibility, but he is failing in that especially if he refuses to hand over his sources to an inquiry that he wants.

    Reply
    • Missy

       /  29th March 2017

      Morning PDT, you are up early. Guess you are a Hager fan – don’t worry I won’t hold that against you, people can’t help being misguided.

      Reply
  1. Hager: NZDF rebuttal “doesn’t change anything” – NZ Conservative Coalition

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