Transcript Part one: Mike Hosking & co-author of Hit & Run Jon Stephenson

Transcript starts at 8:55

Mike:

So, as we’ve told you this morning, authors of the book have back tracked on a key claim of the book. It is claimed six civilians were killed, 15 more were injured in a botched village raid led by the SAS.

It is also claimed no insurgents were present in the village but now, well that’s… that story is changing in a very big way.

Co-author of the book, Jon Stephenson, is with us, Jon, good morning to you.

Jon:

Good morning Mike, how are you?

Mike:

I am well, thank you. This embarrassing?

Jon:

No, no it’s not embarrassing. It’s never embarrassing when one does one’s job as a journalist and puts information before the public that’s relevant and ah allows them to make a determination as to what happened.

Mike:

When you discovered there were insurgents in the village did your heart sink?

Jon:

No, no it didn’t. No. I’m interested in what actually happened. I’m approaching this, if it doesn’t sound too grand, from the position of an historian, not an activist.

Mike:

Although many people would see, perhaps not as much you, but certainly Hager, they would see him as an activist, and that’s why we got an enquiry and that’s why we got seven million dollars, and that’s why we’ve seen what we’ve seen which turns out now to be wrong.

Jon:

Well, I think you need to be rather cautious about saying what is wrong and what is not wrong. You’re not the enquiry, you are not privy to the information that is before the enquiry, I can tell you that we have two of the most eminent legal minds in the country Sir Terence Arnold and Sir Geoffrey Palmer, they have many of the facts – even they don’t have all the facts but they more facts than I, and they certainly have more facts than you, ah… so they will make a determination based on all the evidence.

Don’t forget that this is a claim by the insurgents that needs to be tested. I can’t see any reason why they would lie about it.

Mike:

No, exactly.

Jon:

But the villagers may have a reason, they may genuinely not have known that they were there, they may have been scared to acknowledge their presence because of the fear retaliation, or they may have been Taliban sympathisers, these are all possibilities. It’s not for me to make that determination, it’s my job to report the facts…

Mike:

Sure. Understood.

Jon:

I don’t want to trample on the mana of the enquiry.

Mike:

Well, it’s already been trampled on because the villagers have gone back home. They’ve… they’re over it.

Jon:

Well, that’s not a matter for me to comment on or speculate. I’m not the legal representative for the villagers and I’m not authorised to speak on their behalf. I’ve got a view of that, but it’s not appropriate for me to speak on their behalf.

Mike:

The… the examples you gave before as to what they may or may not have been, none of that changes the fact that what your story now, if it stands up, and as you say, there’s no reason to believe it wouldn’t, what your story now tells us is our military behaved in a way you would expect them to behave in a war zone – they were chasing people they needed to kill.

Jon:

Well again… I know you like to deal with things in Mike’s minute, but this is actually a very complex issue, the fact that there were insurgents in the village, and I’m speaking hypothetically, let us say there were insurgents hypothetically in the villages, or village, there were two villages, if there were and they’ve acknowledged they were in one of the villages, not the village where the majority of the damage was done by the ah raiding force, and if they were there, it doesn’t mean that the US helicopter gunships or the SAS and Afghan troops had carte blanche to shoot up the village.

They still had to ah use proportional force and they still had to avoid causing death or injury to civilians whenever that was possible. Again, I don’t want to comment. I have a great deal of information about that that is not in the public domain but that is not for me to speak publicly on, I am simply putting my information today before the public and standing here and defending it or ah… you know, my… my job. But I am not the enquiry. I don’t want them to interfere with my journalism but I’m certainly… I certainly don’t want to trample on their remit and try and influence them with my work. They will assess everything.

Mike:

Yeah, but the fundamental premise of the enquiry and the public money and the seven million dollars, was based on the book and the book made… made extraordinary claims that basically our military just wandered into a village and started shooting up innocent civilians and it would appear now that’s simply not the case.

To be continued…

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