Nothing To Them. Tim Keating hits back at “Hit & Run”

By   /   March 27, 2017  /   23 Comments

TDB recommends Voyager - Unlimited internet @home as fast as you can get

In the words of Jon Stephenson: “Is [NZDF Chief] Tim Keating really saying there were two raids using identical aircraft, in identical places with identical commandos, that left behind identical munitions in that one village, then [in] a village two kilometres south? Seriously?”

GREG PALAST is an American investigative journalist who won world-wide attention for his coverage of the 2000 US Presidential Election. This was, of course, the election decided not at the ballot box, but in the US Supreme Court. The history of the last seventeen years has turned on the manner in which the State of Florida managed its electoral roll.

Palast discovered that a company with strong links to the Republican Party had won a contract to purge the Florida roll of convicted felons. (Like a great many other state governments, Florida permanently strips convicted felons of the right to vote.) Concerned that the contractor’s software was likely to disenfranchise hundreds – perhaps thousands – of eligible Floridian voters, Palast contacted one of the major US television networks and offered them the story.

Initially, there was tremendous interest. Senior news executives told him they would spend a little time fact-checking his claims and then get back to him. Palast wasn’t worried. As a highly experienced investigative reporter he was confident that his story could withstand the closest scrutiny.

So he waited. And waited. And waited.

Eventually he ran out of patience and contacted the network. Where was the story? To his utter amazement, he learned that the network had decided not to run it. But why? The answer he received was a jaw-dropper. The network explained that it had confronted the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, with his allegations and been told that there was nothing to them.

That was all it took – an official denial from the brother of the Republican nominee – to spike Palast’s story.

Listening to Bill English this morning on RNZ, I couldn’t help being reminded of Palast’s ill-fated exposé. Like the American TV network, New Zealand’s prime minister had been presented with a forensically detailed piece of investigative journalism and asked to carry out an inquiry.

The internationally acclaimed war correspondent, Jon Stephenson, assisted by New Zealand’s leading investigative journalist, Nicky Hager, had patiently pulled together, and on Monday, 20 March 2017 published, Hit & Run: The New Zealand SAS in Afghanistan and the Meaning of Honour, an exhaustive account of “Operation Burnham”, a military raid carried out by the NZ Special Air Service (SAS) in the Tirgiran Valley of Northern Afghanistan in August 2010.

Stephenson and Hager contend that as a result of Operation Burnham six people were killed and 15 injured. The 21 casualties, it is alleged, were inhabitants of two villages located in the Tirgiran Valley: Khak Khuday Dad and Naik. Most of those killed or wounded are said to have sustained their injuries as a result of 30mm cannon fire directed at them and their dwellings by US Apache helicopter gunships attached to the SAS operation.

Prime Minister English’s response to the information contained in the Hager/Stephenson book was to ask the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) if it was true.

For the best part of a week the NZDF maintained “radio silence”. On the afternoon of Monday, 27 March 2017, however, the Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating, answered that the material contained in Hit & Run did not describe Operation Burnham accurately. There has been a raid in the Tirgiran Valley in August 2010, during which US Apache gunships had ridden shotgun for SAS troopers, but the action had not taken place at Khak Khuday Dad or Naik but two kilometres to the south at the village of Tirgiran.

Lt-Gen Keating’s media briefing was a lengthy and detailed affair involving a number of power-point slides and a special legal briefing from a senior NZDF lawyer, Lisa Ferris. He reiterated the NZDF’s long-standing claim that 9 Taliban insurgents had been killed in the raid and described the conduct of all the military personnel involved in Operation Burnham as “exemplary”.

What the Chief of the Defence Force did not explain, however, was how so much common information could have possibly emerged from what must have been, if his account of Operation Burnham is correct, two separate attacks.

In the words of Jon Stephenson: “Is [NZDF Chief] Tim Keating really saying there were two raids using identical aircraft, in identical places with identical commandos, that left behind identical munitions in that one village, then [in] a village two kilometres south? Seriously?”

Stephenson’s incredulity notwithstanding, Keating’s explanation proved to be more than serious enough for Prime Minister English. “The Defence Force was in one place, the allegations are made about villages a couple of kilometres away. That doesn’t look like it requires investigation.”

Nothing to them, you see? Because the man at the centre of the allegations says so. Jon Stephenson and Nicky Hager should have a chat with Greg Palast. If anyone knows how they must be feeling right now – it’s him.

***
Want to support this work? Donate today
***
Follow us on Twitter & Facebook
***

23 Comments

  1. ONCEWAS says:

    “For the best part of a week the NZDF maintained “radio silence”.”

    No @ Chris, they didn’t just maintain radio silence, they went into ‘war room’ mode, looking for an every which way out. So far, they think they have enough clouds and smoke to change the narrative into one that is
    “YOU (plebs) PROVE WHAT WE SAY IS WRONG” … rather than one of we represent you (public) and you have an inherent right to hold us accountable.

    INTERNET USHOOS, so if this appears twice or not at all………. yeah nah

    • Anne says:

      So far, they think they have enough clouds and smoke to change the narrative…

      Typical Crosby/Textor MO. Find some difference to the story (no matter it doesn’t actually change anything) and then try to make that the story. Eg. it was a different hill outside a different village. Translated… the hill was probably between Keating’s village and S&H’s village.

      That is, distract everyone from the real story which is… they buggered up then covered up.

  2. Nitrium Nitrium says:

    So I guess this is going to the International Court of Justice. How embarrassing.

  3. XRAY says:

    Is English thinking? Unless he knew all about this and maybe he did, he is the clean slate that can quite rightly throw Key under the bus, hold a cleansing inquiry run objectively and walk away unharmed. Maybe too many skeletons are in too many National Ministers closets to do the right thing.

    Thus far version 5.0 is anything but credible. It is a kind of hybrid of all the previous versions rolled into one. I await the version with King Kong who was seen running off from the scene clutching villagers wearing his tight fitting “I love NY T shirt”.

    To believe Keating is to believe the only other people capable of this was the US, who then are guilty of war crimes. Or just blame the Afghani’s. Or some unknown shadowy 3rd party. Wait, maybe that’s for versions 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3!

    • Nitrium Nitrium says:

      The US is the easiest scapegoat for NZ (i.e. just say they did it) since the US doesn’t acknowledge the authority of International Criminal Court and so are de facto out of its reach (i.e. they won’t co-operate with its investigators because they aren’t legally obligated to). This will probably give the “reasonable doubt” NZ needs to get off the hook.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_and_the_International_Criminal_Court

    • What a bunch of crap…the so-called general takes two weeks to tell us they never attacked the two villages…if you believe that you believe in the tooth fairy. Sooner or later some of the troops who spoke to Hager and Stevenson will find the courage to go public and the truth will win out.

      Of course some thing else might occur, Key and others may suddenly become honest…but don’t hold your breath, it didn’t happen in eight years and the new High Commissioner has recieved his reward [s] so its not likely to happen now

  4. Lois Griffiths says:

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave
    When first we practise to deceive “

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      This liar has “Key-itis” also as the valley is called the same name as the village he said was where he was involved with!!!!!

      Happily we hear the case is on the way to the international war crimes court to get at the real truth.

  5. Just who is running this country ?

    Is it the NZ Army, or the current National Government ?

    Because, as sure as hell, the tail is wagging the dog.

    • mosa says:

      “Who is running this country” ?

      The Americans with their surveillance and expectations , China and all their money and their donations and the big corporates.

      And the Dairy industry.

      That’s who.

  6. countryboy says:

    “ Thank God I pay my taxes to keep their military shit afloat.
    I’d be freaking out if I thought one of those hungry, lonely, cold, penniless homeless unlucky lay-a-bouts was getting my $-ers. Instead ! Boo Yeah Mutha Hugga Lets shoot shit up! “

    Oooo…! Even playing at being Right Wing’s scary/dangerous. I can feel the spiders squirming around in my brain, like cocaine.
    Being a Right Wing ding dong must be like being on a very, very bad drug. All the time! Everything would seem normal…. but really?
    Flying in a helicopter while it shoots 30mm bullets at kids, women, old guys and their animals must be like all the terrors of the very worst drugs while stone cold sober. What a fuckin’ trip man? Where’s peter dunne when you need him? Oh, right. There must be a bow tie symposium somewhere.
    Are not the guns, bombs, peeeow-peeeow types not just a bit fucked up? How about that fruity old Mr Keating with his ribbons, bows, bells, whistles, G strings, make up and cup cakes up his arse crack fetish then? I made that last bit up. He does look like a Real Man who likes to push cup cakes up his bum though, doesn’t he? No, Gerbils, I hear you say? Gerbils are soooo last year dahlings. Animal rights and all that.
    Who dresses like that these days anyway? It’s not cosplay is it? I suppose it is. Dress up like a branchless pine tree and mince about looking stern while knowing dead people are dead because one’s had peeeow-peeeow times. And the homeless are homeless on rich lands while improbable people are the true heroes and we have a Southland Sheep Shearer and mud wading shit kicker saying nothing to see here, or there an’ that.

    A friend once wrote to me :
    “ I was walking along on a warm sunny day. There were children playing, I saw a dog running and barking underneath willow trees as ducks floated about on a still river under the summer sun. I thought to myself… Such beauty, such an idyll, who needs drugs to feel this way? Then I remembered, I was on drugs and that was why I did.
    Keating needs to forget about the cup cakes and shove an E up there.

  7. Pat O'Dea says:

    That was then, this is now.

    From the news files of the Otago Daily Times Friday, 29 April 2011

    New Zealand’s elite Special Air Service (SAS) troops were involved in hunting down Taleban insurgents in Afghanistan responsible for the death last year of army Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell, it was reported tonight.

    Lt O’Donnell was the first New Zealand soldier killed in combat in Afghanistan and his death was widely reported in early August.

    Until now, actions after his death had been kept secret.
    TVNZ’s One News said the Government had confirmed that SAS troops stationed in Kabul were involved in hunting down the Taleban insurgents and 12 were believed to have died during the counter-attack.
    They mobilised from their base in Kabul two weeks after Lt O’Donnell was killed and, with American assistance, launched a counter-attack in Baghlan Province.

    Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said New Zealand was taking an active interest in the region and New Zealand forces “were involved”.
    “We have our special forces to be able to undertake military operations – that is part of their overall remit,” he said.
    “It is in the remit of the special forces to be able to undertake operations at the direction of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) and Nato, and in this case, particularly, to protect our people.”

    Lt O’Donnell died on patrol in north-east Bamyan Province and it was believed insurgents who attacked the convoy had come in from neighbouring Baghlan Province, the report said

    The report said there had been claims civilians died in the counter-attack but Dr Mapp said they had proved to be false.

    https://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/sas-hunted-down-nz-soldiers-killers-report

    “Hunted Down”? Sounds like a revenge raid to me.

    The report cited by the ODT in 2011, much closer to events, clearly states that the “counter attack” took place in neighbouring Baglan Province, not Bamyan Province, which NZDF Chief, Tim Keating now maintains.

    “They mobilised from their base in Kabul two weeks after Lt O’Donnell was killed and, with American assistance, launched a counter-attack in Baghlan Province.”

    “Lt O’Donnell died on patrol in north-east Bamyan Province and it was believed insurgents who attacked the convoy had come in from neighbouring Baghlan Province, the report said”

    • Pete says:

      Not casting any questions or views about what happened in Afghanistan.

      Who used “hunted down”? Did that description come from anyone involved or a reporter? Did the initial use of that description then become picked up and used to characterise what happened?

      It is an emotive description, used for a purpose and not necessarily accurate.

      Maybe it is fair to use the term as “the other side”, the anti-Hager brigade seemingly intent on covering up, minimising and maybe bullshitting, is saying whatever it wants and can. Probably with the mentality of “all’s fair in war.”

      The intent of the ill-fated military excursions and the motivation behind them are likely to be the most difficult to prove or state things about with confidence and the backing of evidence.

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      Well pointed out Pat O’Dea, 100%

  8. Mike in Auckland says:

    “For the best part of a week the NZDF maintained “radio silence”. On the afternoon of Monday, 27 March 2017, however, the Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating, answered that the material contained in Hit & Run did not describe Operation Burnham accurately. There has been a raid in the Tirgiran Valley in August 2010, during which US Apache gunships had ridden shotgun for SAS troopers, but the action had not taken place at Khak Khuday Dad or Naik but two kilometres to the south at the village of Tirgiran.”

    Does anyone notice any similarity to the handling of the ‘Dirty Politics’ allegations?

    Yes, then three years ago, there were some earlier comments, but they were all first denials, then only reluctant admissions that bits of what the book contained may be true, but in the end, because some details were disputed, the whole book was then suddenly rubbished.

    So they operate again, now besides of the government also its NZDF. They have managed to find some “discrepancy”, and therefore, whether it actually is one or not, the book is according to them now totally wrong. I wonder where Mr Keating got his report(s) from, has he done some fact checking, or has there been something muddle up somewhere along the lines?

    And what he says contradicts former Defence Minister Mapp also now, astonishing.

    But as it cannot be, what is inconvenient and therefore MUST not be, it simply never happened.

    Fake News or Alternative Facts are well here and alive in NZ Aotearoa, aka NZ Inc. now.

    • Anne says:

      They have managed to find some “discrepancy”, and therefore, whether it actually is one or not, the book is according to them now totally wrong.

      Except it wasn’t a “discrepancy”. It was a deliberate and calculated obfuscation on the part of General Tim Keating.

      Go to the Spin Off site and you will find Jon Stephenson’s response. Tirgiran is the name of the region/valley where the villages are situated. A bit like a rural township consisting of little clumps of houses(villages) scattered across the terrain.

      I note that John Key’s former spin doctor, Kevin Taylor is now PR officer for the NZDF – spin doctoring is clearly his forté…

  9. Mike in Auckland says:

    It must be the revenge by the NZDF – for having lost a court case started by Jon Stephenson, which he won.

  10. Priss says:

    The thing about liars is that is that more lying to back up the first lie. And when the lying starts to unravel, more lies have to be told, or backtrack with “alternative facts”.

    I heard Keating on RNZ. I do not trust the man one iota. I could tell he was not telling the truth, his lips were moving.

  11. David Stone says:

    Much of what happens in wars, especially with no distinct army ,no defined battleground , and no clear or even discernible final objective is probably like this. And most of it has to be lied about as if a democratic public had a clear picture of what is being done in their name wars like this would be impossible for democracies to conduct. Or even start.
    I admire your constant lucid presentations Chris, and the effort you must constantly put into research. Sorry I am not always able to think of a smart comment in time to stop myself from posting it. Fortunately you can come to the rescue.
    Cheers D J S

  12. bert says:

    Seriously! Then why this…

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11825881

    YOU DESTROYED EVIDENCE, you are corrupt to the core!