Another book from Hager?

Will Nicky Hager launch another book this year?

He only recently revealed he would be launching what turned out to be the book he co-wrote with Jon Stephenson, Hit & Run. Stephenson presumably did most of the investigating, and it was not a long book (I think not much over a hundred pages).

Before the launch it was said that the book wasn’t targeting or would affect the election campaign like Hager’s last book, Dirty Politics.

There’s time for another book launch before September. Does Hager have another book up his sleeve?

I’m just wondering, I haven’t heard anything about another Hager book this year. He manages to keep his launch plans fairly secret.

More depth to ‘Hit & Run’ reports now

Some pundits and journalists were excitedly demanding immediate action after a quick look at Nicky Hager’s and Jon Stephenson’s ‘Hit & Run’, launched on Tuesday evening.

There are far better reports coming out now that people interested in looking at the issue in more depth are publishing their views.

More investigation from David Fisher: Exclusive interview: NZSAS says civilians were killed in fatal raid, including two by Kiwi sniper fire

What he has found out supports some of the book’s claims but disagrees with some, in particular the claim that it was a revenge raid.

But the soldier’s account also conflicted with claims in the book that the NZSAS were motivated by “revenge” over the death of O’Donnell.

He said the NZSAS soldiers would have been “angry” over the death but “revenge” had no part to play in how they did their jobs.

The soldier said: “SAS boys are a different breed. Everything is a lot more calculated.”

Rather than “revenge”, the Herald was told by the former Governor of the neighbouring province, the raid was to target insurgents who threatened the New Zealand base at Bamyan, about 50km away.

So those who claim that Hager never gets anything wrong may want to reassess that view.

Toby Manhire: Books damning claims demand inquiry

Hager and his co-author, Jon Stephenson, have stressed both these points.

The then prime minister did sign off the raid, which apparently killed six civilians and injured at least 15 more, but there is no claim that he masterminded any coverup.

“I suspect we know far more about what happened than John Key was told,” said Hager.

Some of the conclusion jumpers commenting at The Standard have missed that bit.

Hit and Run is an important book. Whether you admire or viscerally loathe its authors is immaterial to the evidence it documents.

Not all of the allegations are new, but the depth of research and detail are compelling.

Any journalism that heavily depends on unnamed sources should, of course, be subject to scrutiny, even if, as here, they are numerous and corroborated.

Critically, many of the sources would be willing to speak to an appropriate, independent investigation, says Stephenson.

For their sake, for the sake of the NZ Defence Force, whether to censure or vindicate, for the sake of the government, for the sake of respecting international law, for the sake of the dead, and in the public interest, that investigation needs to happen.

Not to do so for fear of creating difficulty for our military bosses or politicians or, even, the Americans, would be wrong.

“We’re not going to be rushed into an inquiry,” was an early response from the prime minister, and that is fair enough, but the case is now urgent and overwhelming.

I prefer time is spent doing things properly rather than jumping to the demands of journalists and activists.

Peter Dunne joins Labour, Greens and NZ First in asking for an inquiry.

Afghanistan Inquiry Now Inevitable – Dunne

UnitedFuture leader Hon Peter Dunne says an inquiry into allegations New Zealand SAS forces were involved in an incident that led to civilian deaths in Afghanistan now seems inevitable.

“In the wake of the comments in the Hagar book ‘Hit and Run’ there has been a rising fog of confusion, about what may or may not have happened.

“Recollections now seem to vary sharply, and I think it is inevitable some form of inquiry will be necessary to clarify and resolve these.

“New Zealanders are rightly proud of the reputation of our SAS and Armed Forces generally, and do not wish to see that diminished, so they deserve open reassurance that our forces have not behaved inappropriately.

“The current saga of claim and counter-claim will not provide that, therefore some form of independent inquiry is appropriate,” Mr Dunne says.

Some meaningful response from the Government seems inevitable, bit according to Legal Beagle Graeme Edgeler it should be an investigation instead. It’s worth reading his whole detailed post – A war crimes inquiry; or why Nicky Hager is wrong.

He concludes:

There is nothing to stop the Government starting an inquiry. There will be some aspects of what has happened that will be able to inquired into without risking prejudice to a Police investigation, but, as is generally the case with coronial inquests, we will need to recognise that not every question of importance can be answered while questions of whether there will be criminal charges remain unanswered.

In New Zealand, such investigations are a matter for the Police, and decisions over whether to prosecute (in the High Court) are ultimately for the Solicitor-General or Crown Prosecutors. Alternatively, allegations against soldiers may be a matter for the Military Police, leading the possibility of trial at a Court Martial. Neither will have much experience investigating war crimes. In the circumstances, I think the Police are better placed in the case.

There are sometimes reasons to prefer a Court Martial. For example, if the result of the investigation is that there is insufficient evidence to file war crimes charges, but that charges under the Armed Forces Discipline Act for failure to comply with the rules of engagement could be laid against some involved, this could only be done at a Court Martial. However, that is not possible here. There is a time limit for such charges to be brought to Court Martial, and it has well passed. A Police investigation would likely involve assistance from Military Police, and Crown Lawyers in any event.

Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson have authored a book alleging war crimes; they’re not necessarily certain who, but the describe events that could amount to war crimes committed by New Zealanders. This has consequences.

When confronted with allegations of war crimes, New Zealand is obliged not just to find out what happened, but to investigate, and if appropriate, prosecute. But it would be wrong to pursue an inquiry that may prejudice the rights of those now under suspicion of committing war crimes. Commissions of inquiry do not investigate crimes. This is the job of the Police.

Where Police fail to investigate an alleged war crime, New Zealand has agreed, with the approval of Parliament, that the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court can step in instead. We should not let that happen.

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.

Blogs respond to ‘Hit & Run’

Blogs have been abuzz on the Hager and Stephenson book “Hit & Run”.

At Kiwiblog David Farrar plays it down saying *if* and comparing 6 civilian deaths to total civilian deaths in Afghanistan (26,000) – TLDR: Hager book summary

So far at The Standard it has been left to comments with no posts other than Nicky Hager’s book launch but that does include some politically aimed tweets including:

And:

The Daily Blog had live stream coverage of the book launch but that was apparently quite unreliable. Martyn Bradbury has since had a major rant in a post targeting John Key – you have to tell NZ if you committed a war crime:

If we as a country are going to cheer when our troops go to war to fight ‘da terrorists’ then we have to demand accountability when they kill civilians! We deserve to know the truth before John Key steps down – did he or did he not order a poorly planned strike that killed 6 civilians?

Jesus wept this disgusts and angers me so deeply – if you send troops to a foreign land you are fucking responsible for what they do!

Brothers & sisters, we fund the NZ SAS – when they pull a trigger, we help pay for that trigger – Key has made us all killers here.

The Prime Minister has blood on his hands and we must demand some answers before he steps down.

In Bombers eyes know inquiry is needed, he has already tried and convicted the whole country. He seems to have missed the fact that Key stepped down from being Prime Minister last year. Key is due to give his valedictory speech in Parliament today and then leave. I’m not sure if he will have time to consider Bradbury’s demands.

Tim Watkin at Pundit – The O’Donnell raid in Afghanistan: The seeds of the new Hager book

The 2010 raid in Afghanistan detailed in Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson’s new book, Hit and Run, was first revealed on a TV interview I produced in 2011. It’s time for some official answers

Andrew Geddis at Pundit: Killing in the name of?

Nicky Hager and John Stephenson’s book, Hit & Run, presents compelling evidence that our SAS was responsible for killing at least six Afghani civilians, wounding at least another fifteen, and handing over a man to be tortured for information. And then we were systematically lied to about what was being done in our name.

He concludes:

I say that again now. If our SAS must dissemble and lie by omission or commission to those for whom they fight, then it should not be fighting. If military leaders and their political masters are complicit in those lies, then we should follow the German example and require their resignations.

For at a time when our defence forces are asking us to give them some $20 billion from the public purse to upgrade their equipment, it is incumbent on them to prove to us that they deserve it. And the first step they must take in doing so is showing that we can trust them to tell us just what it is that they do in our name.

I thought that a law professor might have listened to the other side of the arguments before coming to strong conclusions.

To date Whale Oil has no posts on the book. Perhaps they are disappointed it isn’t about them again. Apparently Slater has been otherwise occupied and no one else has stepped up. There have been some comments on it in Whaleoil Backchat.

Response to ‘Hit and Run’

Hager and Stephenson’s book ‘Hit and Run’ has made serious accusations, and the authors have suggested that it is possible war crimes may have been committed.

Response from John Key:

He may have more to say about it in his valedictory speech in Parliament today.

New Zealand Defence Force:

Ex Defence Minister Wayne Mapp from RNZ:

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says an SAS attack on insurgents in Afghanistan was not a revenge mission over the death of a New Zealand soldier last year.

Dr Mapp has confirmed an operation took place on 22 August last year in an area where Bamyan province borders Baghlan province, just over a fortnight after the death of Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell from a roadside bomb explosion.

Lieutenant O’Donnell was the first New Zealand soldier to die in combat in Afghanistan.

SAS troops were involved in the subsequent attack on the group of insurgents – killing nine Taliban fighters.

Dr Mapp says the joint mission took place involving New Zealand Special Operations Forces, Afghan National Security Forces and other coalition elements.

However he said it was not a revenge mission, but was carried out to protect the provincial reconstruction team and improve security for local people.

The minister said it would have been irresponsible not to act, given intelligence information had indicated operations against New Zealand soldiers were likely.

There is also audio of an interview with Mapp at : SAS attack not revenge over NZ death – minister.

There hasn’t been much time for official Government or party responses given that the book was launched after 5 pm yesterday.

I can’t find anything from the Government or from Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee.

Neither can I find anything yet from Labour or from their defence spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.

No sign of anything from NZ First nor from the Greens.

I expect some careful consideration will be given by the parties.

 

Hager and Stephenson want full Afghan inquiry

 

Not surprisingly Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson want something out of their newly released book – and it’s a full inquiry into what they claim was a botched military operation in Afghanistan.

RNZ: Hit & Run authors plead for full inquiry on Afghan raid claims

Hit & Run, co-authored by investigative journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson, claims six civilians were killed and another 15 injured in raids on two villages in 2010, in what the book said was a botched operation led by New Zealand troops.

The authors alleged the soldiers, alongside US and Afghan troops, burned and blew up about a dozen houses and then did not help the wounded.

The book claimed the attacks were retaliation for the death of New Zealand soldier Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell.

The Defence Force said an investigation into claims of civilian casulaties at the time concluded the allegations were unfounded, and it stood by those findings.

But Jon Stephenson said he wanted Prime Minister Bill English to launch a full inquiry.

“He’s a decent man and I think we would appeal to him as a son, as a father, as someone who understands what it might be like to lose kids, that he will reach out and do the right thing here, because this is a wrong that’s [laid] festering for years.”

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

“We can safely say that there are grounds to suspect that there have been war crimes, but that obviously is a very serious allegation and it has to be determined by experts – which is why we’re calling for an inquiry,” Mr Hager said at the book’s launch in Wellington last night.

It is unclear how much then-Prime Minister John Key was told after the raid, and if he was misled by the military, Mr Hager said.

Both Stephenson and Hager seem to be taken a non-confrontational and relatively non-accusatory approach to  Prime Minister English and ex Prime Minister Key, which probably gives a better chance of encouraging an inquiry.

If there was to be an inquiry it is unlikely to be any outcome before the election, for both political and practical reasons.

Hager book release today

Nicky Hager’s book release starts at 5:00pm today. There is likely top be plenty of media attention and coverage.

Live tweeting:

The Daily Blog say they will live stream it: TDB will livestream the release of the new Nicky Hager book, 5pm Tuesday.

Some suggested topics are the Police, spy agencies, Panama related trusts and John Key.

News coming out of the launch now – Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson coauthored the book Hit and Run

his is the latest from Vernon Small at the launch:

“Hager says it covers a dark and secret part of NZ history. Some from the military wanted it told.

“They and their colleagues went against something NZ should stand for, that amounted to war crimes.”

“The story is about the SAS in Afghanistan.

“The book is what happened for the days after the first NZ death in Bamiyan. They prepared a raid on two isolated villages.

“A call was made to Prime Minister John Key to approve the raid, and he gave the green light, Hager said.”

It is something that’s obviously important to Hager but I think a few hoping it would be an election blockbuster may be disappointed.

More from Stuff’s live feed:

Nicky Hager’s latest book,co-authored with Jon Stephenson – Hit and Run

  • It details NZ SAS raids on villages in Afghanistan.
  • Prime Minister John Key gave the green light for a raid on two isolated villages, Hager said.
  • But the go ahead was based on flimsy intelligence, he alleges.
  • Following SAS attacks on the villages saw 6 killed and 15 injured.

Stuff Live: Author Nicky Hager unveils new political book

It’s not a book I’m likely to purchase or read.

Stuff: This is a sheet of media commentary, prepared by Hager’s team.

It’s headlined: Denials made to the media about civilian deaths (2010 – 2014)

ISAF Joint Command: “No civilians were injured or killed during this operation”

– ‘Numerous insurgents killed and weapons recovered’, news release 2010-08- CA-266, 23 August 2010, Kabul, Afghanistan.

New Zealand Defence Force: “Following the operation allegations of civilian casualties were made. These were investigated by a joint Afghan Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Interior and International Security Assistance Force assessment team, in accordance with ISAF procedures. The investigation concluded that the allegations of civilian casualties were unfounded”

– ‘NZ Defence Force operations in Bamiyan on 22 August 2010’, media release, 20 April 2011.

Defence minister Wayne Mapp: “That’s been investigated and proven to be false…. I am satisfied around that”

– Wayne Mapp asked about civilian casualties, Q+A, Television New Zealand, 24 April 2011.

It will be interesting to see if he has anything to say about

John Key: “My understanding is that after a thorough review of the CDF [Chief of Defence Force] at the weekend, he is very confident that the New Zealand Defence Force version of events is correct…. They say there were insurgents that were killed, but that was it”

– John Key on TV3 Firstline, 1 July 2014.

The New Zealand Defence Force: “The NZDF stands by its statement made on 20 April 2011 [above] and will not be making further comment.”

– New Zealand Defence Force, statement to Maori Television Service, 30 June 2014.

Defence minister Jonathan Coleman: “What I would emphasise is New Zealanders were not involved – and that’s categorical – in any civilian casualties or deaths”

– Jonathan Coleman in Stacey Kirk, ‘Categorical: ‘NZ troops did not kill civilians’, Stuff, 1 July 2014.

Defence minister Jonathan Coleman asked by reporters if coalition forces had killed civilians during the raid: “There is no evidence that they did.”

– Jonathan Coleman, New Zealand Herald, 1 July 2014.

John Key: “We don’t discuss the detail of SAS operations, but what we do say categorically is that no New Zealand soldier was involved in killing civilians”

– John Key in Ripeka Timutimu, ‘Key denies SAS involvement in civilian deaths in Afghanistan’,

Maori Television Service, 1 July 2014.

So there is a significant political aspect.

I think it will now take a while to have this properly analysed and checked against alternate claims and denials.

Interesting from Stacey Kirk:

Hager has just said he suspects himself and Stephenson actually know far more than what John Key was ever told about the raid before approving it.

He understood Key was not given the full picture, but Hager also said the buck stops with the PM.

He hopes Bill English will take a step back, as he’s not culpable for this.

Political reporter Jo Moir has just filed this:

The New Zealand Defence Force have been approached for a statement in light of Hager and Stephenson’s book launch. A spokeswoman said it was too early to comment at this stage.

Labour has also been contacted about the revelations but were still busy collecting information from the launch before anyone would comment.

As I said, it will take a while to digest and check all of the details.

Hager’s new book

Nicky Hager has announced that he will be launching another book tomorrow.

The launch is being held at Unity Books, 57 Willis Street, Wellington. It begins at 5pm Tuesday 21 March 2017, with speakers at 5.15pm.

The book is not a sequel to Dirty Politics nor related to the election. It is a completely different book but nonetheless gripping and important.

That leaves open to being about many things.

Hager was involved in the Panama Papers revelations so something related to that is an obvious possibility.

Martyn Bradbury’s loose lips let slip about ‘Dirty Politics’ just prior to it being launched.

Last December Bradbury tweeted:

There is a damning book coming out that will focus on John Key – I believe this is behind his decision to step down

But so far since Hager’s latest announcement Bradbury hasn’t revealed any more hints, so either he is being more disciplined – Hager likes his books to pack a surprise punch – or he has been left out of the loop.

All he has done is post a repeat of Hager’s announcement: BREAKING: New Nicky Hager book launch this Tuesday

Repeating someone’s pre-promotion is hardly breaking news.

That tweet prompted speculation but it’s unlikely to be a follow up to Dirty Politics, that served it’s purpose with Slater and Whale Oil practically neutered and John Key resigned.

John Key will give his valedictory speech in Parliament on Wednesday, but if the book launch is timed to pre-empt that it its probably smart marketing more than closely related.

Toby Manhire at The Spinoff does some speculating (and/or has some fun) in Nicky Hager is about to publish a new book. What’s it about? Here are the odds  but points out:

When Hager told the Spinoff about the book-in-progress – and we’re confident it’s the same one – late in 2015, however, he said, “I’ve had one of the most important projects that I could imagine in my life ticking away and going through the early processes of working towards eventually getting it together.” So if it is about Key, it goes back a bit.

At least this time the book has been launched well in advance of the election. Claims that ‘Dirty Politics’ was an attempted campaign hit job allowed some if it’s impact to be diverted and deflated.

We will find out tomorrow after 5 pm what it is about.

NOTE: I will delete any derogatory personal comments. Stick to opinions and arguments on issues and events.

Hager takes Westpac to Human Rights Review Tribunal

Recently the Privacy Commissioner upheld Nicky Hager’s complaint against Westpac for breaching his privacy – see Privacy Commissioner upholds Hager complaint against Westpac.

That is only advisory (toothless) so Hager has now filed a case against Westpac with the Human Rights Review Tribunal.


Nicky Hager files proceedings in the Human Rights Review Tribunal

Nicky Hager has filed a case against Westpac with the Human Rights Review Tribunal. This is yet another step in Mr Hager’s response to the unlawful search of his home and private information by Police.

The Privacy Commissioner recently upheld Mr Hager’s complaint against Westpac for breaching his privacy. However, the Privacy Commissioner’s decision is advisory only. To obtain binding orders, Mr Hager needs to take his case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

Mr Hager believes the attitude of Westpac has left him with no choice but to continue with his case. “He has asked Westpac to acknowledge that it breached his rights.

Despite the Privacy Commissioner’s ruling, it has not been prepared to do that,” Mr Hager’s lawyer Felix Geiringer said.

Mr Hager will be asking the Human Rights Review Tribunal for binding orders requiring that Westpac not give its customers’ bank transaction data to the Police without a production order.

There may be thousands of people in the same position as Mr Hager, but who do not know it. “He has also asked the Human Rights Review Tribunal for an order requiring Westpac to notify everyone whose privacy may have already been breached,” Mr Geiringer said.

Even if Mr Hager is successful before the Human Rights Review Tribunal, the broader issue may remain. “This issue does not just relate to Westpac. All New Zealand’s banks had the same arrangement with the Police. Many other companies have also been releasing personal information without asking for a production order.”

A claim against the Police for making the requests is still before the High Court.

Privacy Commissioner upholds Hager complaint against Westpac

Felix Geiringer (Nicky Hager’s lawyer):

Westpac “believes that every customer has authorised the disclosure of all of their information… to Police for whatever reason Police give it seems untenable that Westpac would genuinely hold this belief… it would come as a surprise to a great many of Westpac’s customers…”

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And:

The Privacy Commissioner’s decision:  Privacy Act Complaint: Nicky Hager and Westpac New Zealand (Our Ref: C/28047)