Letter to the editor – Bill English dives head first into the cover-up cess-pool



Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking


from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Listener <letters@listener.co.nz>
date: 4 April 2017
subject: Letters to the editor


The editor
The Listener

On 3 April, our esteemed Prime Minister, Bill English, announced that there would be no independent commission of inquiry into allegations of civilian deaths, injuries, and deliberately destroyed homes in a SAS-led raid in Tirgiran Valley in 2010. It was also alleged that a  prisoner was handed over to Afghan security forces where torture was a well-known interrogation technique.

English’s excuse;

“After considering [that] briefing, [General Keating’s] letter to [Defence Minister] Gerry Brownlee and viewing video footage of the operation, I’ve concluded there is no basis for ordering an inquiry.”

I trust the facts as presented.”

English’s explanation for refusing an impartial inquiry defies credulity.

In effect, an instigator of an alleged crime – the NZ Defence Force – was asked to provide a reason to avoid an inquiry. The NZDF duly complied.

What did English expect, a full admission of wrong-doing by New Zealand forces in Tirgiran Valley? A written, signed confession?

Is this to be the new standard of accountability from National? That any allegations of impropriety is put to alleged offenders; they deny wrong-doing; and English accepts said denials without question?

Let us not forget that on 21 March, the NZDF responded to allegations of civilian deaths and injuries at Naik and Khak Khuday Dad with a flat-out denial;

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

“The investigation concluded that the allegations of civilian casualties were unfounded.”

Six days later, Defence Force chief, Tim Keating admitted “possible” casualties;

“Subsequent information, received after Operation Burnham indicated that civilian casualties may have been possible […] The investigation team concluded that civilian casualties may have been possible due to the malfunction of a weapon system.”

Both statements are currently viewable on the NZDF  website.

By resisting calls for an inquiry, English has implicated himself in a possible cover-up.

There is no other way to interpret his words.

.-Frank Macskasy


[address and phone number supplied]



Email addresses for newspapers for other budding letter-writers wanting to express their demand for a Commission of Inquiry. (Maximum word-length stated in brackets)

Daily Post (250 words)

Dominion Post (200 word limit)

Listener (300 word limit)

NZ Herald (200 word limit)

Otago Daily Times (150 words)

The Press (150 words)

Southland Times (250 words)

Sunday Star Times (150 word limit)

Waikato Times (200 words)





Radio NZ: ‘No basis’ for Afghan raid inquiry – PM

New Zealand Defence Force: NZDF Response To Book

New Zealand Defence Force: Speech notes for Press Conference on Operation Burnham (p6)

Previous related blogposts

Letter to the editor – Commission of Inquiry, NOW!




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  1. Not so long ago when asked on RNZ why Key left , Winston Peters stated it was over issues of ”accountability and administration ” and that ” over the coming weeks and months this will all come out”.

    I believe he just may have had an inkling.

    And if that is the case, I would suspect that English has inherited those same ‘ accountability and administration issues ‘ that Peters alluded to , and, – in emulating his past boss, has adopted the same tactic.

    That of denying , denigrating , and stonewalling.

    However ,… we now have a situation whereby not only are the SAS members who were directly involved supplying information , but also Afghanistan officials who administered the death certificates – AND the parents of the 3 year old that was killed along with other victims family’s.

    Are our SAS members liars? … Do they habitually make up tall story’s just for the sheer delight of providing shock value for the NZ public ?

    Are they just jovial pranksters who simply just wanted to pass the time and have a laugh and waste the valuable time of others?

    Did 3 year old Fatima die or didn’t she?

    And if she did ,… did she magically die by shrapnel all by herself ? – in another village completely unrelated to those raids several kilometers away ???

    Then that must surely put a whole new emphasis on the capability’s of long range flying shrapnel and its lethal effects !!!!

    And was it all for fun and games that the SAS members that say they witnessed what went on also maintained medical assistance was not given to wounded non combatants??

    Are our SAS personnel THAT irresponsible they would quite happily make their organization out to be monsters just for kicks ???

    And when the SAS returned 10 days later to that same village which is supposed to also be another village entirely according to the NZDF , – did those houses also just magically destroy themselves ???

    Has Bill English suddenly become the supreme arbiter – not just in New Zealand but globally ???

    …So much so that bodies such as the Hague can now confidently be deemed to be redundant and then disbanded ,- and that the opinions of legal entities who specialize in international humanitarian concerns and the rules of accepted engagement in warfare are now all null and void???

    We must be incredibly fortunate to be endowed with such an enlightened multi tasking and all knowing persona such as Bill English !!!

    We should be forever grateful that he in his infinite wisdom and humility has elected to stay in this relatively moribund and obscure part of the world instead of rising to the rightful place of the global elite !!!

    But the question still nags at us Bill ,…. and ,… what we would all really , really want to know is , … just WHO REALLY killed Fatima ?

    AND WHY ?

  2. That cartoon’s is ironic (if that is the best word) as a friend who has worked in the media for years told me that the book was “fake news”

    • Pineapple, your friend didn’t happen to explain how the NZDF managed to post two conflicting statement on casualties in Tirgiran Valley did s/he?

    • There are clearly quite a few who see it as fake news. Many of them, a lot by admission, have not read the book and do not intend to. They are prepared to take the word of Hager haters and truth fearers.

      Their calls for there to not be an inquiry and celebrations that there won’t be indicate a couple of things. One is a vainglorious attitude about seeing themselves as winners as a consequence of Hager losing.

      Another is the sigh of relief that there is no chance that the Government they support has the chance of being embarrassed.

      Mostly though their delight and then scorn poured is a sign of profound partisanship and blind ignorance. Not having an inquiry is a perversion of accountability and a smear on any claim we can have as a country which “does the right thing.”

      I hear NZ Rugby is likely to organise an All Blacks game against Samoa in June and they are to play Scotland later in the year.

      Using the Bill English way those games should not be played, we know what the results will be, there is no reason to go through all the dramas.

      And there’s the guts of it – English doesn’t know the result and he’s too scared to play. If he knew the other side had no chance he would play to flaunt his being right. And that’s what it’s got down to, not honour or what is really right, but political position. The vacuous leadership compared to real leadership is at the level of his predecessor.

      The neanderthal reaction to the Afghanistan story and its aftermath though shows that English has a flock well suited to him and they have a numero uno who will meet their low expectations.

      • He may just be following the political maxim of “don’t commission an enquiry if you don’t know the result”.

  3. If rebranding troop manoeuvres as a reconstruction team, which on paper is a noble cause, and then sending them into a war zone with out a parliamentary vote, which is not noble. I mean first of all if New Zealand sent troops to a war zone for any reason, there shouldn’t be any ambiguity about putting that to a vote. There is ambiguty and we are paying a very ugly price.

    Instead of payimg that price we celebrate the death of the Magna Carta – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Carta – which established a narrow notion of the presumption of innocence. Thats been destroyed. Now guilty has been extended over time to include a prime minister ordering the death of people in a foreign land with out approval of established order, established to prevent such tragedy i might add. John Key can decide to kill, you can argue about detail but thats a plausible definition of the word guilty in the NZ context.

    The word suspect comes up in all this but it is not debated, as it should be. There has been New Zealand citizens involved in these extra judicial murders and thats debated. Suppose the Taliban decide to retaliate in the same manner because none of them is named osama bin laden or al qaeda. This means all options are open which means if the Taliban want to cary out a nuclear attack on NZ soil they’ll do it. Im not saying that will happen but you can come up with plenty of other, eye for an eye bombing campaign. But when we bomb and kill its considered ligit. Thats amazing!

    Bill English not only knows that NZDF are killing suspects of crimes with out proper legal writ, he knows very well these events are generating terrorists. Generating terrorists can not be understated! When you murder people in a cultural society that has traditions of defence and revenge you better be fucken ready for a response. And our response must start with a clear message to the editors so they can properly signal to the nation and the world that these are rouge citizens of our nation acting in the interests of a caucus made up of a party with a small majority that represents enlightened business theorists.

    • No. Our ANZACs fought and died to try and prevent the sort of war crimes Hagar alleges. A better response would be to turn out in force on ANZAC Day and demand accountability. Accidents and misjudgments happen, but covering them up ensures that they will happen again.

  4. Well written, Frank. I’ll take the ODT and punch out 150 words or less. Bill English has ensconced himself neck-deep in this cover-up.

  5. Bill English is just a stool pigeon for the global elitists and war armament industry, and was told to butt out.


  6. Is this to be the new standard of accountability from National? That any allegations of impropriety is put to alleged offenders; they deny wrong-doing; and English accepts said denials without question?

    Well technically English DID question it, which is presumably why the NZDF were forced to provide video evidence of the operation. This video indeed could potentially go a long way (if not all the way) to “proving” there was no wrong-doing. Unfortunately, we, the people, aren’t privy to the footage to make up our own minds. Until that happens, we’re expected to simply take English’s word for it that all is above board.

    • And therein lies the problem , as Article 15 Communication (International Criminal Court ) states that it only takes ONE complainant to trigger an ICC investigation and possible court trial.

      And , – furthermore – the material in ‘Hit and Run’ then becomes documentation that is admissible evidence.

      Also – if it is deemed by the ICC that a govt has conducted a sham investigation to cover its own interests – that too can trigger a court trial.

      So for Bill English to arbitrarily decree that there was no wrong doing , -all of that potentially starts to unravel if just ONE witness comes forward and lays a complaint. That video may or may not have conclusive proof of no wrongdoing – but if the above conditions are not met by the ICC’s standards then it becomes subject to the ICC’s scrutiny – and for THEM to decide- not Bill English.

  7. A Bill English commitment “We’re not here to shy away from the hard issues”

    He has failed in keeping his comitment.

    Great work as always Frank.

  8. Talking about ‘evidence’ presented, who has more credibility, Jon Stephenson and Nicky Hager, or the NZDF?

    Make up your own minds:


    Here a list of articles in the Herald about all this and more:

    Bill English likes to walk around with blinkers on, as it is election year, and as he does not want any National or Nat friendly personalities suffer any reputational damage. Such may include former PM John Key, Minister Brownlee, former Governor General Mateparae and a number of other persons.

    As the NZDF will have and hold potential evidence, this will not be made available unless a proper investigation will be conducted, and by putting this off, it will at least be delayed, e.g. should an international court later look into this.

    That means, the election campaign will not cover this topic.

    The deeper stuff gets buried, the harder it will be to dig it up again, with useful traces. Who knows, some material may simply “vanish”. And we know that ISAF and their investigations have at times been flawed also.

    I trust that in the background we have Deborah Manning and her legal colleagues consider taking other steps, and that Nicky and Jon are now working overtime, to find and present more evidence that will nail the responsible ones.

    So a mix up with village names or a slight discrepancy in locations that may assist English and colleagues at present, we know though, that apart from Operation Burnham, no other ones took place in that region at that time, so there seems to be enough evidence already to take the NZDF to court.

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