Faces of the Day

The meaning of honour.

NZDF head Lt. Gen. Tim Keating has confirmed NZSAS has never been to the villages in question, and he says the two journalists got their facts wrong, confusing an event at those villages with an NZSAS operation further south.

That operation, codenamed ?Burnham?, may have caused civilian casualties said Keating after a misfire on a US Apache helicopter gunship, but those killed are not those named in Hager?s book, nor were they intentionally targeted as Hager and Stephenson alleged, nor did they die at the hands of NZ troops. Whoever killed Fatima and the five others, it wasn?t New Zealand or anything to do with this country in any way, and it didn?t happen on Operation Burnham.

?We only fired two rounds during Operation Burnham,? Keating told reporters. ?Let me repeat and make it clear, two single bullets were fired by NZSAS in the whole operation?. American and Afghan forces were also involved, and a total of ?nine insurgents? were killed, contrary to Hager?s book.

It is bitterly ironic that in staking their journalistic reputations on an accusation that NZSAS deliberately killed civilians at two villages because they were motivated by bloodlust and hit the wrong target, Hager and Stephenson themselves appear to have done the same ? falsely accusing NZSAS because they apparently relied on confused hearsay accounts and gossip. In my view Nicky Hager is running out of feet to keep shooting himself in.


There?s a place for advocacy journalism when it?s done right. But accusing New Zealand soldiers of murdering civilians is a pretty high stakes allegation that deserves some pretty high-powered research. To find out the allegations centre on villages the SAS were never sent to is the kind of error no publisher wants to find out after they have already paid for ten thousand books to be printed.

Craig Potton should stay away from politics.


Ian Wishart