UPDATED: No inquiry needed over Hit & Run allegations, PM says

Bill English

PM Bill English rules out an inquiry into Hit and Run.

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Should the govt investigate the Hager/Stephenson war crime claims?

Yes
36%
No
64%
Total votes: 154

UPDATED: Hit and Run co-author Nicky Hager tells NBR he’s surprised and disappointed the Prime Minister has ruled out an inquiry into the allegations made in the book.  

“Both John Stephenson and I said, when the book came out, we were glad that it wasn’t coming out when John Key was Prime Minister, as he was involved in the issues … it would have become a political battle.”

Mr Hager says he’d hoped Mr English would have taken “a different line… because he was neutral.”

Asked what he thinks about the Prime Minister calling the book a “wildly inaccurate piece of journalism,” Mr Hagar shrugs it off.

“Every reasonable person knows that apart from one essentially irrelevant little map error, which is similar to the one Defence made themselves about where the location was, nothing else in the book was found to be wrong.”

He says he and Mr Stephenson had talked to some of the book’s sources about the possibility of coming forward if there was an independent inquiry and there was some kind of protection.

“I would not recommend it to them now, but I think it’s perfectly possible in the future when the country inevitably has to face up to it.”

Mr Hager says the issue is not going to go away and he’s “almost certain that it is going to fester away.”

EARLIER: Prime Minister Bill English has ruled out an official inquiry into the allegations made in Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson's book Hit & Run.

In his post-cabinet press conference this afternoon, Mr English says he came to the decision an inquiry wasn't needed after a briefing with New Zealand Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating.

Hit & Run alleges possible war crimes were committed by New Zealand troops in Afghanistan in 2010 and called for an inquiry into the SAS raids.

Late last week Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee received a detailed letter from Mr Keating stating he had reviewed all the documentation available about the operation, Mr English says.

This included material generated before, during, and after the operation, the rules of engagement and an executive summary of the 2010 investigation by the International Security Assistance Force, the Afghan Ministry of the Interior and the Afghan Ministry of Defence.

Mr Keating told the minister the material clearly shows the defence personnel involved in the operation took deliberate and careful steps to ensure that it was conducted according to the law of armed conflict, Mr English says. 

The review also shows the operation was overseen by a defence force legal officer and that "personnel took all feasible precautions to minimise potential civilian casualties and the destruction of property". 

Mr English says he was also given a detailed briefing by Lieutenant General Keating and other senior officers. 

"After considering Lieutenant General Tim Keating's briefing, his letter to Mr Brownlee and viewing video footage of the operation, I have concluded there is no basis for ordering an inquiry," Mr English says.

On the book, Mr English says the allegations are "wide-ranging and fundamentally flawed' and he calls it a "wildly inaccurate" piece of journalism.

Earlier today he told RNZ's Morning Report that the defence force has already rebutted some “pretty basic” claims that were made in the book, such as the locations of the raids.

And the day after the book was made public and he had talked to officials, Mr English said there “does not appear to be anything new in these allegations and a lot of them are couched pretty conditionally, even by the authors themselves.”

 

 

 


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I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

*said with a straight face*

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It will go before the courts. It will be interesting to see if the International Court of Justice gets involved, now that the Government has demonstrated that it will not investigate itself.

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Must have party-polled in that direction. Still...probably not going to go away.

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Might be technically challenged but the army is not squeeky clean on this

The problem has not been helped by John Key bringing the SAS and army's activities into the open for Nationals political gain a few years back. Now everything is in the open when the pure nature of militiary action ( particularly in respect to the SAS ) should be top secret to protect their identities and military strategies.

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The Nature of complex military actions means they can never be pure and predictable. Although I have little time for former Admiral Phipps as a RNZN rear Admiral or later NZDF, CDS as he was more than usually, a pure political appointment, with little high rank support, and took the RNZN in the wrong direction as a specialised anti sub force based around the short range totally unsuitable Type 12 frigates, Phipps and Deputy PM of the National 1960s Cabinet, Jack Marshall, worked heroically to restrict the role of NZ SAS and other forces withing the confines of military law and restrict our involvement in Vietnam. Phipps however was completely unrealistic in believing that nuclear submarines could be stopped without nuclear weapons and to engage an odd Soviet double hulled Foxtrot or Juliet ( a diesel Juliet is actually used in the recent film K-19 tp depict a Soviet boomer , by the director of the film on the locating of Osma Bin Laden ,'Zero NIne' even a nuclear cruise missile Echo required a full range of missile, strike aircraft and heavywweight depth charges to hit them fast while on or near the surface.
Given these complexities and the complete lack of knowledge or experience within the NZ media, academic, legal or political work an inquiry even by a judge would be a disaster. The decision of the highly esteemed and experienced NZ High Court Judge Lowell Goddard to take an appointment to head an inquiry into historic sexual scandals and alleged crime , showed that these magnificent judge had not a clue of the reality of say the public school, university and services world that had shaped the inner circle of Margaret Thatchers Cabinet, innr circle and associates and friends. No NZ judge could be relied on to have any real appreciation of the complex operational environment NZ land forces operate in in the Near and Middle East. I have always recommended returning to basing our over defence efforts of the RNZN and RNZAF but actually concentating on developing sophisticated air and sea forces to 0the main long airstrips in NZ and exercise sea control over the Southern Ocean. 10 large light frigate/ OPVs of the Holland class of 3700 tons with ac rew of 90 and 4 new P-8 Poseidons are much more suitable for this than just an unarmed fleet of OPVs and al large tanker support ship , easily taken in any auxilary attack.

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I understand and accept the democratic mandate that the Prime Ministet has to represent the people of the nation. What mandate does Mr Hager reference to support his representation of "the public"? Perhaps Mr Hager could refrain from assuming the role of the public voice, or is this delusion indicative of his unusally adept general tendency towards innacurate assumption of fact? Not to mention his seditous assault upon anonymous public servants of courage and good character.

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Well said.

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At least he uses his name.

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Inaccurate?

I take it you never read the source materials behind Dirty Politics yourself, then. They're readily available on the internet, and he certainly wasn't inaccurate.

And what's the need to jump to conclusions about the same on this present case? Should he not conduct investigative journalism when various unhappy people come forward to tell their story?

This is just more cheap ad hominem you're engaging in here.

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Thank heavens for that sideshow gone. Hager can now hand it over to Deborah Manning who can show herself up for the true ambulance chasing opportunistic fame whore that she really is. This will come to nothing but hopefully a large bill for Hager for wasting everyone's time with his inaccuracy, bias and incompetence.

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The video shows a US helicopter firing at the village, and thus outside the scope of a NZ inquiry.

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NZ-led mission. NZDF ordered and directed the fire, no?

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Martin: no, it was a US led mission. Jon Stephenson acknowledged that back in 2014. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/07/05/nzaf-j05.html

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This level of operation could only be led, planned and supported by US officers , intelligence, firepower and while supporting the NZDF and acting on some NZ insight depends on almost automatic acceptance, and unquestioning adherence and understanding of US military doctrine. Any inquiry in NZ to this legitimate support of the Advanced West threatens this and New Zealand's place in the advanced west.

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And BTW - how do you know what the footage shows?

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At long last Bill English has shown some backbone. Albeit, it is wrapped in the cloak of indecision.

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If i write a book i expect an inquiry as to wether what i wrote was true,because frankly i being the Author don;t know if it's true.

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Now is the time for the NZDF sources to step forward but suspect they can't because whistleblowing is difficult if not impossible while continuing in military service. Does anyone know if whistleblowers in NZ military are protected or not?

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In a post Dirty Politics world...how protected is "protected", really?

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Mr Hagers main argument ( Others Peoples Wars) was a NZDF based on a better equipped Army was more useful that our only really useful weapon platform and surveillance system the P3 Orion. However the peacemaking peacekeeping strategy has clearly failed in Afghanistan and Iraq and to work at all requires the sort of ferocious fighting, suppression and random killing demonstrated by USMC at Faluja and even in this incident. It is very difficult to see how the sort of peacekeeping approved in by Hager and Pilger , Serbia. Solomons and East Timor is any less morally freighted than the Bush Blair intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its the same failed 1930s Oxbridge 1930s League of Nations thinking that if Congress and Parliament pass legislation outlawing war the Taliban and ISIS will melt down their rifles in return for an Opium growing quota. I suggest the English National party order 4 P8 Poseidon as planned by RNZAF staff before years end.

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