Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Key ignores possible war crimes

Its been a week since the release of Nicky Hager's Other People's Wars, and the government is still trying to pretend its fiction, just as they did with The Hollow Men. And so we have the predictable sight of John Key expressing confidence in the aid delivered through the NZ Provincial Reconstruction Team, despite a damning official report saying the programme had been a failure. Its a perfect example of faith-based politics, the belief you can change reality just by spinning and lying long enough. But the fact remains: NZDF said their own aid programme was a failure. The only reason we haven't heard it before is because they withheld the report on "security grounds" to prevent embarrassment.

Meanwhile, Key is also taking a slack attitude to other allegations in the book. In particular

He said his officials had read the book and advised him, but he said he had not been advised on whether New Zealand intelligence agents had helped the US military target terror suspects in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"In due course we'll have a look at it, but it's not a high priority."

It ought to be. Why? Because those drone strikes are war crimes, and US personnel (including civilian drone pilots and the lawyers who signed off on each strike) are facing extradition to Pakistan on murder charges over them. People who provided targeting data are co-conspirators in those crimes; if the data provided by those kiwi intelligence operatives actually led to people being killed, they're on the hook too. While Pakistan's use of the death penalty (both official and extralegal) means they could never be extradited, it would be a permanent stain on New Zealand's record to have had its soldiers participate in such crimes.

This needs to be investigated, and the results made public. Sadly, from their past behaviour and cover-ups, we can't really trust NZDF to do that.