Mainstream media wakes up to some questionable aspects of
Some time this month, New Zealanders may see the outcome of an officials’ review of
As the day of decision draws closer, mainstream media are beginning to wake up to the seriousness of the issue, and to ask some questions that have already been traversed on Pundit, here, here and here.
Freelance journalist Jon Stephenson broke the ice this past weekend with a Sunday Star Times expose headlined “Kiwi Troops in War Crimes Row”. He has revealed some detail about the treatment of SAS prisoners that has not been provided in any of the official information that has been grudgingly released to date. His story will stand or fall on the veracity of this detail.
On the basis of interviews with un-named SAS members of the unit’s first tour of duty in
Stephenson has also provided the approximate date of a meeting of special force commanders from
He says that none of his SAS sources saw inside the Khandahar detention centre – where it is now known that prisoners were often slapped or beaten, some were tortured, and some were killed. These SAS members knew the brutal reputation of the centre, but say they were in no position to witness it.
However, Stephenson also reports the opinion of an American human rights lawyer, Michael Ratner, described as a teacher at Yale and
The difficulty Ratner faces is our inability to be able to determine what actually happened to the SAS prisoners. Without proper identification, they are not traceable. It was the same difficulty that the
The NZ Defence Force did not provide the SAS with any resource to process their prisoners and record their identification. Surely a fingerprint was not beyond the realms of possibility? That is just one of the questions our defence chiefs still need to be asked.
To date, the response to Stephenson’s story has been pretty limp. The Greens say the Government should not consider sending the SAS back to
A spokesman for Prime Minister John Key has highlighted comments by Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae that the SAS has tightened its rules on handling prisoners since its first tour in
The Americans may have cleaned up their detention centres with the change of guard at the White House, but that does not address the problem that will face
Under rules agreed between the Karzai government of
Since the beginning of 2006,
Other nations participating in the UN ISAF have such agreements, and some have provisions that enable them to inspect detention facilities and check out the treatment and condition of detainees taken by their troops.
A month ago, I asked Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully if we had completed a new agreement with
Meantime, it is worth remembering that McCully's predecessor Phil Goff commenced the negotiations in 2006 with Dr Abdullah Abdullah, then foreign minister of
More than anything else, it is worth remembering how much, and how often, the facts have been fudged or hidden under the un-necessarily thick veil of secrecy that has been drawn over the actions of
Thankfully, there is no such thing as a private war – but