A large audience crammed the south side of the Paraparaumu library at the weekend to hear author Nicky Hager accuse successive NZ Governments of keeping the truth out of NZ war reports from Afghanistan.
Mr Hager, one of New Zealand’s best investigative journalists, was speaking at a Friends of the Library festival titled ‘Journalism — Getting the Truth Out.’ He spoke mainly about the theme of his latest best-seller, ‘Other People’s Wars : New Zealand in Afghanistan, Iraq and the war on terror.’
After publication, the book was described by Prime Minister John Key — who hadn’t read it — as a ‘work of fiction.’ And the Governor General, Jerry Mateparae, a former Chief of General Staff, said the book was ‘abhorrent.’But Nicky Hager seems to take all this criticism in his stride, expecting no less from all those involved in presenting what he describes as as ‘fairy story’ to the NZ public.
Role of G.G. in war on terror
And in an answer to a question, Mr Hager was scathing about the role of the Governor General — a former officer in the SAS and Head of the NZ Army — in the general cover-up about co-operation with the Americans in the so-called ‘war on terror.’
In fact, Mr Hager laid most of the blame for NZ’s extended role in helping US forces on collusion by military chiefs and bureaucrats to hide the truth. He said they hid the truth from New Zealanders and even from the elected Government at times.
He said this is because NZ military acknowledge that most Kiwis want New Zealand to be involved in peacekeeping, but not in a war.NZ’s part in ‘Operation Anaconda’
He gives several examples to back up his argument One of the most disturbing cases, he says, was the secret involvement of the NZ SAS in ‘Operation Anaconda,’ when they helped direct an ‘extermination ‘ operation against a large group of Uzbek guerrillas who weren’t even linked with Al Queda.
But, he says, the NZ public was told nothing of this — or of other military operations by NZ forces in the 10-year campaign in Afghanistan, the longest war New Zealand has ever been involved in.
Nicky Hager said his motive in writing his latest book was ‘to find out what was really going on.’ And luckily there were numbers of concerned Kiwis within government departments and the forces — and even the highly secretive SAS — who were prepared to help him.
He made a heart-felt plea for more open,transparent Government in New Zealand — a fitting theme for his opening session of the Friends of the Libraries’ Literary Festival.
And his talk was followed the following day by a panel discussion in the Library meeting room on ‘Getting the Truth Out.’ Again, the event was packed by an appreciative audience, who were keen to discuss all aspects of journalism, the modern media and the search of truth.