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Barry Soper: Hit and Run? Nicky Hager's book was more Hit and Miss

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Friday, 21 June 2019, 9:09AM
Authors Nicky Hager, left, and Jon Stephenson during the launch of their book, Hit & Run.
Authors Nicky Hager, left, and Jon Stephenson during the launch of their book, Hit & Run.

If there's one thing activist author Nicky Hager does well, it's book launches.

The publishers must love him.

Before the launch he works the media into a frenzy, telling them how his latest tome's going to blow the lid off politics, destroy careers and possible bring down the government.

The media hoard packs into Unity Books on Wellington's Willis Street, there's literally standing room only.

The television cameras are focused to get the latest revelation to air.

The launches are expertly timed for the nightly television news who by the time they go to air have scant knowledge of the contents, but there are always a few tasty morsels to deliver on what's to come between the covers of the latest masterpiece.

That was the case with Dirty Politics, the black ops men in the smoke-filled rooms dreaming up the next conspiracy reaching the highest levels, right to the Prime Minister's office.

Being required to comment on the book the next morning, it was read well into the night.

There was quite a lot of smoke but the gun was sadly missing.

The latest effort Hit and Run, about unarmed civilians being killed by our SAS in Afghanistan villages, is an appropriate title as it's turned out, although Hit and Miss would have been more apt.

The book launch and the aftermath was such a hit that our Well-being Government decided immediately to spend seven million bucks on getting to the bottom of the claims, appointing two knights of the realm, former Labour prime minister Geoffrey Palmer and former High Court judge Terence Arnold to lead the inquisition.

Well a significant part of the story, critical to getting to the bottom of what happened, the unarmed villagers, want nothing to do with it, they have little trust in our authorities, we're told.

Within 48 hours, Hager's co-author Jon Stephenson, told us that there were in fact insurgents in the villages after all.

So the villagers weren't as innocent as we were led to believe - but why then did the authors go to the publisher with only half the story?

The excuse from Stephenson is a lame one. Hager it seems, wanted the book published two years ago.

He was of the view that it needed to proceed then.

Stephenson says it was a judgment call that they now have to live with.

It's a call unfortunately that we all have to live with.

Credit to Stephenson for finally telling the whole story - but it's a pity it wasn't told from the start, it could have saved the taxpayer the money now being spent on the inquiry.

He tells us he only started talking the insurgent leaders after the book was published and the reason for holding off until now was that he wanted to talk to as many as possible.

Stephenson says he got to half a dozen of them but still maintains it's a question for the inquiry to find out whether civilians were killed.

He maintains at least two were shot, one of them happened to be running off clutching an AK47.

Unfortunately and sadly civilians die in combat zones.

Having travelled with the SAS in Afghanistan one thing became apparent - they were meticulous, careful and they most certainly were not trigger happy but above all they were caring.

 

ON AIR: Kerre McIvor Mornings

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