The NZ Herald articles by Barry Soper about Nicky Hager’s Hit and Run that disappeared

Talk about Hager having power… whatever happened, this is what he managed to get removed from the NZ Herald web site


 

An examination of the cartridges shows they couldn’t have possibly come from the SAS, if they’d fire them they at the very least would have dislocated their muscular shoulders.

Barry Soper

Barry Soper is Newstalk ZB’s Political Editor

Barry Soper: More dents in Hit & Run?

Friday, 31 March 2017By Barry Soper

It’s been a week of claim and counter claim over whether civilians were killed during an SAS raid in Afghanistan in 2010, to allegedly avenge the death of our first casualty there, Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell.

Put all you think about Nicky Hager to one side, and for many that’s hard to do. It’s true he’s become something of an election year explosive device which generally has everyone running around chasing their tails, which of course includes the media.

Hager and his war correspondent cobber Jon Stephenson have taken on the might of the military in this country and they’re a lean, mean machine with all sort of resources at their disposal. When you take on that battle you’ve got to make sure you’re on solid ground but unfortunately some of it’s turned to liquefaction.

The authors’ claim about where the attacked villages were located in the remote Tirgiran Valley were a few kilometres out gave the Defence Chief an in, suggesting the whole yarn wasn’t worth the book it was published in.

That’s of course a glib response. There was only one attack in the valley on the night the and book’s account of it is virtually the same as the military’s.

But any chink in the book’s armour unfortunately weakens their argument.

There’s another one too, a photograph taken where an allegedly innocent, recently graduated school teacher was shot as he fled the carnage. It shows spent cartridges, suggesting they came from SAS snipers.

Well an examination of the cartridges shows they couldn’t have possibly come from the SAS, if they’d fire them they at the very least would have dislocated their muscular shoulders.

Weapons expert Richard Munt from Auckland, without knowing the background of the photo, says they probably came from Apache helicopters.

Guess what was accompanying the SAS on their raids? Yep helicopter gunships, under our control, but flown by Americans.

Perhaps that gives weight to the theory put forward by Mr Responsible, the country’s most experienced Cabinet Minister Peter Dunne who knows how the machinery of Government works.

With every politician outside of the Beehive now calling for an inquiry, including Dunne, he says his coalition cobbers’ reluctance to call one could have something to do with the fact that the Americans inflicted the damage, killing the civilians.

Does New Zealand want to be the source of exposing that right now, given the unpredictability of the current administration in Washington? Dunne asks.

Certainly the defensive Don would not be happy.


 

As I was capturing the above for posterity, I noticed another article by Barry Soper on the same topic had been pulled. Here it is.

 


Another shadow has been cast over the accuracy of Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson’s book Hit & Run.

It concerns a photograph in the book where the authors say a recently graduated teacher, who they name as simply Islamuddin, was shot.

He died from bullet wounds rather than shrapnel from helicopter weapons that allegedly killed most of the six civilians.

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.

“They’re not from a shoulder-fired firearm, they would be almost impossible to fire without injury to the shooter. They are large, they’re an anti tank weapon.”

Mr Munt’s claims may give some weight to the argument of Government support partner Peter Dunne over his colleagues’ reluctance to call an inquiry into whether civilians were killed.

“What if the Defence Force’s rebuttal is correct as far as it goes, and the SAS was not involved in the attacks, and the video footage also confirms that, but shows that another force, the Americans, were more explicitly involved than has been indicated to date.

“Does New Zealand want to be the source of exposing that right now, given the unpredictability of the current administration?” Dunne asks.

Jon Stephenson did not return calls for comment last night.

Earlier this week, both the NZDF and the authors of Hit & Run were told by villagers said to have been on the receiving end of the deadly attack that they got the location and names of the villages wrong.

Hit & Run claimed the SAS carried out a raid in August 2010 on the villages of Naik and Khak Khuday Dad, which killed six civilians and injured 15.

The NZDF said the NZSAS had never operated in those villages but instead carried out a raid on nearby Tirgiran Village 2km away.

– Newstalk ZB

Read more by Barry Soper


 

I can guess that the NZ Herald may have been intimidated into the removal of these articles. Just that alone puts them squarely into the Public Interest category and I’m republishing them here for that reason.

From my perspective, Barry Soper followed the truth where it led him but this was against the NZME editorial policy which wants to be supportive of Hager and his poodle and their attack on the NZSAS, NZDF and the New Zealand Government.

That the NZME/NZ Herald/Newstalk ZB organisation cannot allow dissenting stories from its staff is a clear indicator of the journalistic health of that organisation.

This article was written before Hager made a press release as to what he wrote to the NZ Herald. I’ll follow that up in one of the next posts. The main point was to capture the articles as they existed before they were deleted from public view.

Later that afternoon, Barry Tweeted

Go Barry, you good thing.  You’ve done nothing wrong.

 


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