NZDF Chief told to prove hearsay accusations wrong

Journalist Jon Stephenson has called on the Chief of Defence Force to “put up or shut up” and release camera footage taken during SAS raids in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant General Tim Keating fronted media yesterday after returning from Iraq and almost a week after Stephenson and Nicky Hager released Hit & Run, alleging SAS raids in Baghlan province in 2010 killed six civilians and not insurgents as officials have claimed.

No one is in Afghanistan anymore doing these operations. There is no operational security requirement. The SAS is facing serious allegations. Put up or shut up.

A key part of Keating’s rebuttal of the book is that New Zealand personnel have never been to the two villages named in the book, Naik and Khak Khuday Dad.

Keating told reporters he had seen geo-referenced footage of the raid – called Operation Burnham – that proved both what was fired upon by supporting US helicopters, and exactly where the raids occurred – not Naik and Khak Khuday Dad, which were about 2km away and in very different terrain.

While Labour, the Green Party, NZ First and United Future have all called for an inquiry, Keating said a starting point for any investigation was to “tie the alleged perpetrators to the scene of the crime”.

Stephenson urged Keating to release the footage.

“Show the whole thing. There is no reason why it can’t be shown. It is many years since the operation. No one is in Afghanistan anymore doing these operations. There is no operational security requirement. The SAS is facing serious allegations. Put up or shut up.”

So this is how it works when you have Hager and his mates walking around. ?They make something up loosely based on a pile of hearsay. ?Then those that stand accused have to prove themselves innocent of their allegations.

It worked with Dirty Politics. ?My stolen emails were used to build a narrative that may or may not be true. ?But everyone, including the main stream media, assumes it is true because…..? ?Hager put it in a book. ?It is his theory, and it is other people’s job to bowl it over.

There were no less than three enquiries into Dirty Politics. ?All of them proved Hager’s allegations wrong.

So is this Hit and Run crap, also based on hearsay and a theory concocted by Hager and his mate really going to be the next lot of wasted taxpayer money?

All political parties think so. ?They have taken a stance that what Hager has published is right unless proven otherwise.

In the face of unprecedented detail in response from Keating at the NZDF, does this put Hager’s theory to bed? ? Not at all. ? No matter that the facts don’t even match, apparently that is an even bigger reason to have taxpayer funded enquiries to see if Hager’s theory is correct or not.

I can tell you now, from personal experience, it will not be. ? The man takes hearsay and builds a story around it. ?No doubt, he’s managed to fascinate a lot of people that way. ?But until there is more than his pet theory in his book, there must not be any enquiry.

Sadly, Bill English has shown in just two months that he goes from No, to Maybe, to We’re looking into it and then Yes.

I would let it anger me, but if the media and politicians out there still haven’t figured out how to deal with Hager after all this time, they deserve every bit of drama they get.


– Nicholas Jones, NZ Herald