Nicky Hager must be a publishers dream.

He, like no other author, knows how to whip the media into a feeding frenzy and his latest outing, coming as it always does in the run up to an election, has again done just that.

Seeds of Distrust, which became known as Corngate, alleging genetic engineering pissed Helen Clark off in 2002.

He broke the mould with Hollow Men, which was launched a year after Don Brash lost the election in 2005 but maybe had something to do with the fact that he never got to fight another one.

Authors Nicky Hager, left, and Jon Stephenson during the launch of their book, Hit & Run, at Unity Books in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Authors Nicky Hager, left, and Jon Stephenson during the launch of their book, Hit & Run, at Unity Books in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Dirty Politics

, in the lead up to the last election, derailed it but probably did more damage to Labour than it did to National, given that for at least a week the media fed on the seedy black ops in the Beehive rather than the heavily orchestrated back drops of David Cunliffe. Even though John Key couldn't remember whether he was an office or a person at the time, the fallout from the smoking gun showed that someone had forgotten to load it.

So the latest outing from Hager and his cohort Jon Stephenson is appropriately called Hit and Run, although whether it scores the required hits and who does the running is yet to be determined.

The allegations made in the book, launched as usual just before the 6pm telly bulletins, meaning instant shock, horror analysis, and on the eve of John Key's departure from politics, are deadly serious.

But the key word here is "allegation" which seems to have been forgotten in the clamour to find a culprit.

It's long been established there was an attack on two villages in Afghanistan following our first casualty there, Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell, killed by a roadside bomb in Bamiyan in 2010.

The book makes a lot of claims about our crack SAS squad who it says led "revenge raids", killing six civilians, including a 3-year-old girl. It's accused the SAS of war crimes and it doesn't come more serious than that.

This squad is the elite of our military forces and watching them perform first hand in Afghanistan, they're tight knit, focused unit who take no chances and could never be described as trigger happy.


The book ends with official press releases of the time following an inquiry into the attacks which directly contradict each other.

The first conducted by the Afghanis and International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF. It says that several rounds fired from helicopters fell short of the intended target and struck two buildings, conceding there may have been civilian casualties.

The second is from our Defence Force saying that investigation found allegations of casualties were unfounded.

Clearly they both can't be right and Hagar's unnamed sources could now confidentially give evidence to an inquiry, which would at least give us all peace of mind.