Friday, October 18, 2019

Bullshitting the Minister

On Monday, the Hit and Run inquiry heard from NZDF's former director of special operations, who claimed that the defence Minister knew everything about the Operation Burnham raid. Today, the inquiry heard from that (former) Minister - and it turns out that he didn't know nearly as much as NZDF claimed:

Mapp – who the Minister of Defence from 2008 until late 2011 – on Friday told the inquiry he had been briefed about the report in the Beehive in September 2011.

"I now have a fragmentary memory of being told … that there was no evidence of civilian casualties but that it was possible that civilian casualties may have been caused during Operation Burnham," he said.

But he said because there had been no detailed evidence to confirm the deaths, he had never passed the information on to former Prime Minister Sir John Key's office.

"I was not left with any reason to think I had to take further action … I thought, on the basis of what I've been told, I can't take this matter any further, because there was no actual evidence," Mapp said.

Which sounds like Jim Blackwell, the former director of special operations, bullshitted the Minister, minimising the contents of the report, and then lied the inquiry about it afterwards in an effort to cover his own arse. But it also sounds like Mapp failed to exercise proper supervision of his agency, in that they (correctly) thought they could do this without getting caught.

There's a lesson in this: Ministers should never trust anything NZDF ever says to them, because they demonstrably will lie and obfuscate and exaggerate to cover their arses and get their way. That's not a basis for a healthy relationship, but what else can Ministers do when an agency has been caught doing this?