Key in denial over Afghanistan | The Jackal

1 Jul 2014

Key in denial over Afghanistan

Last night, Native Affairs had a great program on the conflict in Afghanistan and a "revenge mission" involving Afghan commandos, US troops and New Zealand SAS soldiers that reportedly killed Afghan civilians. The excellent exposé by award winning journalist Jon Stephenson was thorough and clearly showed that civilians had been wrongfully targeted.

Today, Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key has rejected claims New Zealand SAS soldiers were involved in a "revenge mission" that killed Afghan civilians.

Maori TV's Native Affairs last night aired a report that claimed New Zealand Special Air Service troops were involved in a joint operation in Afghanistan that killed six civilians, including a child, and injured 15 more.

Here's the Native Affairs program for you to decide.

Investigative reporter Jon Stephenson reported the mission was "revenge" for the death of Feilding soldier Lieutenant Timothy O'Donnell.

O'Donnell, 28, was killed when his three-vehicle patrol was attacked with explosives, rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire in northeast Bamiyan Province in August, 2010.

Key this morning rejected the mission was an act of revenge.

"There were no revenge missions in Afghanistan," he said.

"What there was, was situations where our SAS were involved in effectively prosecuting insurgents that were undertaking their own sorts of actions or fights that were going on.

Prosecuting insurgents? The people killed were clearly civilians and it's not the job of the SAS to "prosecute" anybody in Afghanistan. NZDF personnel were to form a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Afghanistan, or so the propaganda led us to believe.

The article continues to report on Key's excuses:

"Our people did go in in those situations and many of them were reasonably high-profile as you know. But my understanding is that after a thorough review of the CDF [Chief of the Defence Force] at the weekend, he is very confident that New Zealand Defence Force version of events is correct and Mr Stevenson once again is wrong."

Key was not immediately sure if he was briefed on that particular mission and said he would have to check with his office.

Jon Stephenson is wrong? That's a rather simplistic and pathetic response considering the evidence he's presented so far. It's also the same response Key used when Stephenson broke the story of SAS forces handing over suspects to Afghanistan authorities, including the Afghan secret police and the National Directorate of Security, organisations well known for torturing prisoners.

That report was a clear indication that New Zealand troops were breaching our international agreements that prohibit against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment...and like this more recent example of misconduct the Prime Minister will be hard pressed to make the public believe Stephenson's reports, or the man himself, lack credibility.

John Key needs to do more than just attack the reporter. What really needs to occur is an independent inquiry into New Zealand troops being involved in what by all accounts are revenge killings and war crimes in Afghanistan. Without that we should believe the information presented, because really Jon Stephenson has no reason to make these allegations up.