Another error from Hit and Run, but it is impossible Hager was wrong

Nick Hager has told us that is “impossible” that he and Jon Stephenson could be wrong over the content and story that is Hit and Run.

Of course we have seen them locate the villages in the wrong place, some two kilometres out. This is apparently just a small error.

Then we have been told that the villages they named exist, and the Tirgiran village doesn’t exist.

Here is their rebuttal of the NZDF claims:

The defence force claimed that the SAS raid occurred in a village called Tirgiran, not the villages of Naik and Khak Khuday Dad named in the book. This is not true. The locals know the names of their own villages and they are called Naik and Khak Khuday Dad. The raid occurred there.

And;

After the NZDF press conference, Nicky Hager said that the authors stood by the whole story and that at most the NZDF denials might mean that the events in the book occurred two kilometres from where we thought they were, ie. a slightly different location in the isolated mountain valley.

We have checked the NZDF maps shown at the press conference and it appears the location of the raid and the villages is indeed slightly different to what our local sources told us. But the villages at that location are definitely called Naik and Khak Khuday Dad, and all the rest of the story in the book is unchanged. Likewise the photos in the book of the villages attacked in the raid are correct, as are the photos of the victims and destroyed houses.

The Defence Force leapt on this and tried to sow doubt about the rest of the book. Keating said the “central premise” of the book was incorrect; that there were “major inaccuracies – the main one being the location”. But the location is a minor detail, difficult to establish in mountains with no roads or detailed maps (there are no known maps of the valley that include the locations and names of the villages along it).

Further, Hager has claimed, as have the lawyers purported to represent the villagers, that no such village as Tirgiran exists. Radio New Zealand reported this as gospel:

A raid involving New Zealand SAS soldiers in Afghanistan could not have taken place in Tirgiran Village as the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) claimed, because there is no such village, say lawyers.

In response to allegations, in the new book Hit & Run, that an SAS operation resulted in civilian deaths, the Defence Force questioned the claims, saying the authors got the names of the targeted villages wrong.

It produced a map asserting the 2010 raid actually took place in a village called Tirgiran.

But New Zealand lawyers acting for villagers say information from locals shows the two villages named in the book, Naik and Khak Khuday Dad, were the areas targeted in the raid, as shown by the Defence Force map.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, lawyer Richard McLeod said Tirgiran was the name of the valley area, not a village.

Mr McLeod said they had been told there were many settlements or villages in the Tirgiran Valley, including their clients’ villages.

For the NZDF to claim that an operation occurred in ‘Tirgiran Village’ is akin to claiming that an operation took place in ‘Otago city’, ‘Waikato town’ or ‘Waitakere village‘.

“It is plainly wrong to conflate an area into a village as the NZDF has done in this case.”

Unfortunately for both Nicky Hager and Richard McLeod there are some detailed maps of Baghlan province. Rather more detailed than they would like to admit to.

The detailed maps shows two villages called Tirgiran, but no villages known as Naik and Khak Khuday Dad.

Even the map legend identifies “villages”, and the map shows that Tirgiran is in fact marked as a village.

So, contrary to claims made by Hager and the lawyers there is a village (two in fact) show on maps that they said didn’t exist, that show Tirgiran. They are marked as villages and not as a name for the valley.

This is yet another pesky fact that is tearing down Hager’s and Stephenson’s story little by little.

And here is a another pesky fact, Jon Stephenson himself identified these villages in his self referencing Maori Television documentary as Tirgiran village…contrary to his claims now. The claim about the village, with Jon Stephenson himself saying “Tirgiran village” is at 3:19 into the video. He also says the village has no cell phone coverage and is more than six hours walk to the nearest road. Which begs the question as to how he managed to contact the local doctor?

He also says Tirgiran at 4:54. At the 8:17 mark Jon Stephenson tells us that Tirgiran is a sprawling village, despite him never going there…clearly still using Tirgiran as the name of the village. Not a single piece of footage in the entire video is from that village or even the region. Tirgiran is also mentioned at 11:49. At 12:50 he asks his informants if they’d like to send a message to John Key stating he had prior knowledge about the “Tirgiran raids”. At 13:13 he states that “Tirgiran has not been forgotten”…except perhaps now because it doesn’t suit their narrative.

So, in summary, Nicky Hager has stated that it was “impossible for them to be wrong, and yet they have been proven to be wrong about the location of the villages, and now comprehensively shown to have mislead with their statements about there being no maps, and no village called Tirgiran.

What I want to know is why no media have done what I have done, and watched Jon Stephenson’s documentary and outlined the many, many times he called the village Tirgiran, and why Nicky Hager claims there are no detailed maps when I have found one that actually shows villages named Tirgiran, in Baghlan province.

Hit and Run is now without doubt destroyed as a valid and accurate book that could be relied upon to demand anything, much less an expensive inquiry.

The media are as complicit in this as Nicky Hager and they should really be apologising to the NZSAS, the NZDF and to New Zealand for this shabby re-hash of a hit job from two bitter socialists intent on doing what the enemy could not do, destroy our soldiers.

 

– Maori TV, Pundit, Radio NZ

 


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