Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: A war crimes inquiry; or why Nicky Hager is wrong

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  • simon g,

    Expect next revelation: dead girl was actually 4 years old. Woo hoo, we're off the hook!

    The follow-up questions at Keating's press conference were the first sign the tactic was working (short-term, at least): the assembled journalists kind of forgot to say "So General, no dead people then?".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1319 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to simon g,

    The follow-up questions at Keating’s press conference were the first sign the tactic was working (short-term, at least): the assembled journalists kind of forgot to say “So General, no dead people then?”.

    He quite clearly stated there were dead people. He said they were all insurgents, one killed by the SAS, the others by the helicopter under direction from the SAS ground air controller.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    OK, "no dead 3 year olds, then?". Come on, it's not hard to see the elephant, even with Keating's dust-throwing.

    (the follow-up questions were poor, just listen to them again)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1319 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    I wonder if anyone's checked whether the supposed insurgents were removed from any wanted lists after this raid, or whether they were listed as killed in any other, later raids. If NZSAS were working from good intel, they should have names...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2929 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to bob daktari,

    they may look stupid but the entire story is now 100% fixed on map locations, village names and not the actual events, you know the actual story/allegations – the spin has spun the story into the realm the public will now zone out of, if they’ve not already… which doesn’t help with maintaining pressure on a very hesitant to do anything English to launch an inquiry

    Yeah – and the usual suspects online are loudly declaring they were right all along and the authors’ error in locating the villages about 2km away from where they actually are proves the whole thing is bogus.

    Actually, it does the opposite: it places the villages exactly where the NZDF says it attacked.

    Toby Manhire’s update for The Spinoff has it all up to date, with a statement from the Afghan villagers via their NZ lawyers. The village NZDF says it targeted doesn’t exist. The villages targeted were those named in the book.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to simon g,

    "no dead 3 year olds, then?"

    start em young
    #surgeons

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    Have Hager or Stephenson given any indication as to why their coordinates were inaccurate?

    It’s a relatively minor error in a sense but they offered this information as an indication of precision in their overall argument.

    Perhaps someone just transposed a few numbers.

    Since Nov 2016 • 346 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    "Tirgiran village does not exist" but this is where the NZDF SAS thought they were, such a poor understanding of their location perhaps explains the shoot first ask questions later approach. They were expecting opposition and interpreted innocent civilian action incorrectly because of the misaprehended context.

    Since Mar 2010 • 378 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to Neil,

    Have Hager or Stephenson given any indication as to why their coordinates were inaccurate?

    The impression I get is that they knew the villages were in the northern part of the Tirgiran valley so assigned them to those two villages based on satellite pictures. However, they must've got the scale wrong, and the villages were further south and much closer together. The statement by the Afghan villagers' lawyers provides the actual names of the two villages that were incorrectly named in the book.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to william blake,

    They were expecting opposition and interpreted innocent civilian action incorrectly because of the misaprehended context.

    My impression is that the SAS got the right houses for the people they were looking for (the ones that had been shooting at NZ soldiers a few days earlier) but that the actual combatants expected that someone might come for retribution, and had disappeared off into the hills to lie low. Only non-combatants were left behind, but the SAS didn't know that. So the SAS were in the right place, just the people they were hunting weren't.

    In a situation where the SAS are expecting to be shot at (and using night vision gear which isn't nearly as good as Hollywood would have us believe,) I can totally see how they'd be inclined to see what they expect when someone heads towards them (someone who doesn't have NVG and so doesn't know they're headed towards the soldiers until the soldiers start shooting).

    At the point when the shooting starts, the difference between how innocent people trying to get away from danger and combatants trying to get away from danger behave is probably hard to distinguish in the dark using NVGs.

    Bit hard on the civilians though.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Wayne Mapp has posted on Pundit revealing that he was one of the sources for the book.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1381 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Alfie,

    Wayne Mapp has posted on Pundit revealing that he was one of the sources for the book.

    Wayne Mapp has posted on Pundit that he has been interviewed by Jon Stephenson. He does not say he was one of the sources for the book.
    (He may well be, but he has not said he is in that post)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Alfie,

    Indeed, Mapp makes no mention at all of the book Hit and Run in that post. Which under the circumstances is quite a spectacular feat.
    Nevertheless The Spinoff has reported it as an admission.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody,

    Anyone else find this comment by Bill English confusing – it seems he is abrogating his responsibility to make this decision on behalf of the electorate (public) that he represents;

    "He [Lt Gen Keating] will tell us whether he thinks there is a basis there with any new evidence or any new information,” English said. “It’s his job to look into these kinds of allegations"...

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11828777

    Do we have a separation of powers problem here?

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    Do we have a separation of powers problem here?

    The Army has an obligation to investigate allegations of war crimes.

    The Police also have jurisdiction.

    There may be a problem here (perhaps predetermination?) but I don't think it's a separation of powers issue. Investigating crimes is the job of the executive.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Paul Buchanan makes a different suggestion.

    It has been suggested that the New Zealand Police conduct an investigation of the events that fateful August night. I disagree. The police have an mixed history of when it comes to reviewing the actions of uniformed staff and have a vested interest in keeping “on-side” with their military comrades-in-arms given the operational overlap that occurs between the two from time to time. Plus, they already have plenty to investigate, which given their lack of resources makes conducting a thorough investigation of actions undertaken in a foreign land, involving different cultural mores and language barriers, problematic at best.

    Instead, it seems reasonable to convene a Board of Inquiry chaired by the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS). Although not usually focused on military operations, the IGIS has authority to look into all security-related matters and is the key oversight mechanism on matters of intelligence and security. With the widely respected inspector general, Cheryl Gwyn, as chair, a panel could be convened that involves a senior military judge, a retired High Court justice and perhaps an international jurist of some reputation and experience in such matters. They should have powers of compulsion under oath and be given access to all evidentiary material as warranted (beginning with the account and sources in the book as well as the NZDF response).

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Barry Soper thinks he has a scoop in today's Herald. Under the headline, Exclusive: Another shadow cast over accuracy of Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson book he calls into question the authenticity of a photograph used in Hit and Run.

    The photo shows spent weapon cartridges, and suggests they were found at the scene and infers that's where NZ Special Air Service (SAS) snipers were located during the raid.

    But a weapons expert, asked by NZME to identify the cartridges, said they couldn't possibly have been fired by SAS troops as they are issued with weapons that fire bullets half the size of the cartridge cases.

    "I would say they're from a large-calibre cannon, from an Apache helicopter," Richard Munt from Serious Shooters in Auckland said.

    Soper claims this supports the government's reluctance to call an enquiry.

    But in reality Soper's EXCLUSIVE information is complete and utter bullshit as The Standard points out. The book clearly states that the rounds shown in the photo come from an Apache helicopter.

    Soper also incorrectly makes reference to “Tirgiran Village” which Toby Manhire says is like referring to "Otago Village".

    Whether by design or accident, The Standard spells his name as "Soaper" -- how appropriate.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1381 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    It's interesting that the link in my post above to Soaper's "EXCLUSIVE" no longer works. The story still exists here albeit in a modified form with the word exclusive missing from the title and the addition of a brief response from Nicky Hager.

    In terms of jurisdiction, I see the Metropolitan Police in the UK have launched a scoping inquiry into allegations of potential Saudi war crimes in Yemen.

    The Saudi-led coalition has been accused of killing thousands of civilians and triggering a humanitarian catastrophe in one of the region’s poorest countries.

    With US backing, of course. Of particular interest is the fact that the Met already have a "war crimes unit".

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1381 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Attachment

    Something for Chchch readers to do this Thursday evening...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7886 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Do go along. Really compelling presenter in the flesh.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody,

    Looks like an inquiry is out - so is it now a possibility for the lawyers representing the villagers to hand over what evidence they have to the Police or another authority that can investigate?

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/91163021/no-basis-for-probe-into-hager-book-allegations-says-english

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Alfie,

    the addition of a brief response from Nicky Hager

    and if you want to see how pettily mendacious the Harold's editors are being, see the full response and note what's missing at Granny's site.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    or another authority

    like the International Criminal Court, yes

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Sacha,

    like the International Criminal Court, yes

    Which is why English's decision is the dumbest he could make. NZDF being indicted in the ICC is a hundred times worse than being investigated in NZ by a Commission of Inquiry.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2929 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Can anyone name a single instance where a politician or senior military officer has been successfully prosecuted for a war crime other than after their government has lost a war/revolution?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

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