The Soap Box: Claim and counter-claim in Hit & Run saga

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Fri, 31 Mar 2017, 2:02PM
Defence Force chief Tim Keating gives a press conference on Hit & Run's allegations (Getty Images)
Defence Force chief Tim Keating gives a press conference on Hit & Run's allegations (Getty Images)

The Soap Box: Claim and counter-claim in Hit & Run saga

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Fri, 31 Mar 2017, 2:02PM

It's been a week of claim and counter claim over whether civilians were killed during an SAS raid in Afghanistan in 2010 to allegedly avenge the death of our first casualty there, Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell.

Putting your opinion about Nicky Hager to one side (which for many is hard to do). It's true he's become something of an election year explosive device, which generally has everyone running around chasing their tails, including the media.

Hager and Jon Stephenson have taken on the might of the military - a lean, mean machine with all sort of resources at their disposal. When you take on that battle you've got to make sure you're on solid ground.

But unfortunately some of it's turned to liquefaction.

The authors' claim about where the attacked villages were located in the remote Tirgiran Valley were a few kilometres out, and gave the Defence Chief an in. He suggesting the whole yarn wasn't worth the book it was published in. That's a glib response, of course: there was only one attack in the valley on the night the and book's account of it is virtually the same as the military's.

But any chink in the book's armour unfortunately weakens their argument.

There's another one too: a photograph taken where an allegedly innocent, recently-graduated school teacher was shot as he fled the carnage. It shows spent cartridges, suggesting they came from SAS snipers.

An examination of the cartridges shows they couldn't have possibly come from the SAS. They're so large, that if they'd fire them, they at the very least would have dislocated their muscular shoulders.

Weapons expert Richard Munt from Auckland, without knowing the background of the photo, says they probably came from Apache helicopters. And guess what was accompanying the SAS on their raids? Helicopter gunships - under our control, but flown by Americans.

Perhaps that gives weight to the theory put forward by Mr Responsible, the country's most experienced Cabinet Minister Peter Dunne who knows how the machinery of government works.

With every politician outside of the Beehive now calling for an inquiry, including Dunne, he says his coalition cobbers' reluctance to call one could have something to do with the fact that the Americans inflicted the damage, killing the civilians.

Does New Zealand want to be the source of exposing that right now, given the unpredictability of the current administration in Washington? Dunne asks.

Certainly the defensive Don would not be happy.