Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

The excruciating search for truth after Hit and Run

The excruciating search for truth after Hit and Run


DUNNE SPEAKS: The excruciating search for truth after Hit and Run

The search for truth in the wake of the publication of the book, Hit and Run, has been simply excruciating.

The authors’ initial statement was absolute. Innocent citizens had been killed in Afghanistan as a result of an attack by New Zealand SAS forces. Equally emphatic was the response from the Defence Force – the attacks never happened. Then came the first modification – they never took place in either of the two locations the authors claimed. And now, there is the authors’ admission that while they had the village right, they had the wrong locations within it. Both the authors and the Defence Force have been engaging in a very painstaking dance on the head of a pin. And the public is still none the wiser as to what did or did not happen.

Along the way, there have been the reported misgivings at the time of the then Minister of Defence and the apparent comments of anonymous members of the SAS. The Chief of Defence says he has seen video footage of the incident, but at the same time says he has read only the executive summary of the report prepared into the incident, which he also says did not happen.

It is extremely confusing and more than a little Gilbertian. Despite all the disclosures since the publication of Hit and Run, the public still has no clear picture of what did or did not take place.

Over the years, the SAS has built up a highly deserved reputation, based on its skills, professionalism and integrity. It is extremely well regarded. Indeed, it is no coincidence that most recent Chiefs of Defence have come from an SAS background. As a consequence, the reputation of the New Zealand Defence Force has also been high, particularly in the areas of post conflict reconstruction and peacekeeping for which it has become renowned. Our military are not the sort of people who in the normal course of events would become involved in war crimes or militarily improper action.

All of which makes the seeming reluctance to hold some form of inquiry into what did or did not happen all the more puzzling to understand, especially given the variability of the accounts now emerging. The only thing we know for certain is that something happened, somewhere, sometime. Beyond that, the rest is speculation. It is reminiscent of Churchill’s comment on truth and rumour, “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

If the Defence Force is confident of its account of events, what does it have to fear from an inquiry? For their part, the book’s authors say they would welcome an inquiry, but they have no credible option but to say that. In the context of the wider security debate, the government has often pedalled the trite and simplistic mantra, “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” to justify wider intrusion. Well, now the boot is on the other foot, and the question can properly be asked in respect of its position on an inquiry. What does it have to hide? What does it fear?

Well, maybe, there is another aspect to this which we are all missing. What if the Defence Force’s rebuttal is correct as far as it goes, and the SAS was not involved in the attacks, and the video footage also confirms that, but also shows that another force, the Americans, were more explicitly involved than has been indicated to date? Does New Zealand want to be the source of exposing that right now, given the unpredictability of the current administration? So is that the real reason why there is such official coolness on the idea of an inquiry to clear the name of the SAS?

Yes, that is just supposition. But to paraphrase Churchill, while truth is fossicking around in the dark looking for its trousers, rumour and speculation take hold. And in today’s world of instant communication that quickly becomes the new unshakeable truth. Alternative facts some might call them. Surely all the more reason why an inquiry is needed – and pretty soon now.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Another Leader Exiting: Statement From Peter Dunne

I have concluded, based on recent polling, and other soundings I have been taking over the last few weeks, that, the volatility and uncertainty notwithstanding, there is now a mood amongst Ōhāriu voters for a change of MP, which is unlikely to alter...

“I have therefore decided that it is time for me to stand aside, so the people of Ōhāriu can elect a new electorate MP. More>>

 

Gordon Campbell: On Labour’s Campaign Launch

One of the key motifs of Ardern’s speech was her repeated use of the phrase – “Now, what?” Cleverly, that looks like being Labour’s response to National’s ‘steady as it goes’ warning against not putting the economic ‘gains’ at risk. More>>

ALSO:

Deregistered: Independent Board Decision On Family First

The Board considers that Family First has a purpose to promote its own particular views about marriage and the traditional family that cannot be determined to be for the public benefit in a way previously accepted as charitable... More>>

ALSO:

Transport Policies: Nats' New $10.5bn Roads Of National Significance

National is committing to the next generation of Roads of National Significance, National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges says. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Why Labour Isn’t Responsible For Barnaby Joyce

As a desperate Turnbull government tries to treat the Barnaby Joyce affair as a Pauline Hanson fever dream – blame it on the foreigners! We’re the victims of the dastardly New Zealand Labour Party! – our own government has chosen to further that narrative, and make itself an accomplice. More>>

ALSO:

Rail: Greens Back Tauranga – Hamilton – Auckland Service

The Green Party today announced that it will trial a passenger rail service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga starting in 2019, when it is in government. More>>

ALSO:

Housing: Voluntary Rental Warrant Of Fitness For Wellington

Wellington City Council is partnering with the University of Otago, Wellington, to launch a voluntary Rental Warrant of Fitness for minimum housing standards in Wellington, Mayor Justin Lester has announced. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election